Jackson’s Dandy Dozen Myrtle Beach Golf Holes

Five years ago, MBN.com unveiled a series highlighting the Monsters of Myrtle Beach golf, four designers who were involved in designing approximately one-third of all the courses along South Carolina’s Grand Strand and its neighbors just across the North Carolina border.

We’re revisiting that package in a new way, breaking down the 12 best holes here from Willard Byrd, Gene Hamm, Tom Jackson and Dan Maples.

In this edition, we’re highlighting Jackson, the water-heavy architect who was often brought in to team up with other designers and let the marketplace of ideas develop something special. Here are 12 of our favorite holes from his local projects.

River Club, No. 1
As far as openers go, Jackson’s at River Club certainly gives you a taste of a fantastic round to follow. The 354-yard Par 4 isn’t overly difficult, but it does give you no choice but to feel things out a hair. The slight bend around water is accompanied by a tiny green buried just beyond the last bit of wet stuff.

River Hills, No. 2
OK, we’re the first to admit that Jackson might have lost his mind a bit throwing this hole so close the start of the round. But we also respect it because it leaves you no choice but to tune in. The 497-yard Par 5 doglegs to the right and provides no cheat code. The biggest shot of the hole has to be the second – no ifs, ands or buts. (River Hills 2nd hole pictured right)

River Oaks, Otter, No. 2
A relatively short hole to help you find some rhythm on this side, Otter’s 312-yard Par 4 includes a massive pond jumping into the earliest phases of the fairway and then nothing but wide-open space to get you to the green. Two even partially successful shots here have you putting for birdie, maybe even tapping in for one.

Aberdeen, Meadows, No. 3
Don’t fight that urge. Go for it. You know you want to. Good, bad or ugly from there, the 300-yard Par 4 third on Meadows is a ton of fun. There are no real hazards, just mounding galore and a straight shot to the green. The shape of the final 50 or so yards acts as a funnel, often in your benefit.

Arrowhead, Cypress, No. 3
It looks misshapen, and it’s anything but easy. But we love how this Par 3 pops both in terms of the aerial views and playability. The green on this 181-yard is set off to the left of the tee boxes (with regard to the land, mind you), and requires flying the lengthy pond cutting off one from the other.

Arrowhead, Waterway, No. 5
No big whoop, just a casual 356 yarder playing parallel to the Intracoastal Waterway. If you find that water somehow with your tee shot, wear it like a badge of honor, because it takes a huge miss to get there. Otherwise, take it easy here, avoid the bunkers at the front of the green and enjoy the views. (Top photo)

Aberdeen, Highlands, No. 7Aberdeen Highlands 7th Hole
We love creative Par 3s, and the tree off the left side of the green and bunkers on this 144 yarder helps it fit the bill. When the leaves are in full bloom, it shades a solid chunk of the putting surface and forces players back to the right of this large green. Reaching in one is no guarantee of a birdie. (Aberdeen Highlands 7th pictured right)

Arrowhead, Lakes, No. 7
Jackson has crafted other holes at other properties that look similar, and we’re not mad at it. The 379-yard Par 4 on the Lakes provides a massive landing area only to squeeze it all into a tiny landing strip from there. It all bends around a large pond that serves as one heck of a distraction.

River Oaks, Otter, No. 9
Especially with the Bear Course’s closing, River Oaks doesn’t have a ton of huge holes. Otter’s closer does the trick, though. Playing adjacent to River Oaks Boulevard – and with the bridge crossing to prove it – this 498-yard monster feels much longer thanks to an unforgiving swath of trees that pop into the right side of the fairway.

River Hills, No. 14
It’s not a forced carry, per se, but the approach into the green on this 404-yard Par 4 isn’t missing the requirements by much. The large pond running up the left side directs traffic off the tee back to the right. From there, it’s a mid-range iron to the green with nowhere to go but pay dirt.

River Club, No. 15
Unlike No. 1 – which bends around the water – Jackson used the 384-yard Par 4 in the opposite way. He bends the hole away from that pond. The peninsula landing area off the tee is a must, and if players stay to the right, they can make an honest attempt at staying dry and making the most of this hole.

River Club, No. 18
Without a doubt one of the most impressive finishes on the south end, River Club’s 493-yard Par 4 again brings water into the equation and lets players know they have two opportunities to shave off some significant length. Ignore the clubhouse atop the hill and focus on the task at hand. (River Club 18th pictured right)

Course: River Club Golf Course
City: Pawleys Island
Year opened: 1985
Notable: River Club isn’t long – measuring just 6,700 yards from the back tees – but it forces players to navigate mostly tight fairways and water of various degrees on 14 of the 18 holes, including the eye-popping No. 18 that bends around a large pond.

Course: River Oaks Golf PlantationRiver Oaks Otter 9th
City: Myrtle Beach
Year opened: 1987
Notable: Although the joint effort with Gene Hamm is nestled amid a relatively loaded stretch of courses just west of city limits, it is one of only two 27-hole options in a 10-mile radius. It improves pace of play while adding variety for repeat visitors. (River Oaks Otter 9th hole pictured right)

Course: River Hills Golf Club
City: Little River
Year opened: 1989
Notable: Once set as a private course, smaller greens and elevation changes set River Hills apart from so many of the 90 or so other local courses, as River Hills feeds off the rolling hills in the northern tip of Horry County. 

Course: Aberdeen Country ClubAberdeen Meadows 3rd Hole
City: Longs
Year opened: 1989
Notable: A recent renovation updated a 4,000-square-foot clubhouse to include a sports-bar themed restaurant and cleaned up the pro shop some while still letting the 18-hole course do most of the talking. The Woodland 9 closed in 2021, but the Highlands and Meadows 9s remain. (Aberdeen Meadows 3rd Hole pictured right)

Course: Arrowhead Country Club
City: Myrtle Beach
Year opened: 1995
Notable: Along with Raymond Floyd, Jackson helped lay out three distinct nines just west of the Intracoastal Waterway. The course was named the 1998 South Carolina Golf Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association.

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