Interest in golf course architecture has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, with the game’s major publications paying significantly more attention to design intricacies and their impact on the player experience.
Myrtle Beach has served as a launching pad for some of the game’s most respected architects, but which designers most influenced golf’s most popular travel market? Here is our list of the five golf course designers who made the greatest impact on the Myrtle Beach golf community’s success.
— I’m going to hedge on the first entry, submitting the Jones family for your consideration. Family patriarch Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, the first course to attract widespread media attention and it helped drive the area’s growth. His son Rees Jones created Arcadian Shores, which was ranked among the nation’s top 100 public courses in the 1970s, helping further Myrtle Beach’s burgeoning reputation. Rees is also widely believed to be the designer of another top 100-caliber public course, though he didn’t receive design credit due to a dispute with the course’s previous owner.
— Arnold Palmer was the first celebrity designer to work in Myrtle Beach, and the King’s impact continues to resonate. Palmer designed Myrtle Beach National, home to SouthCreek, West Course and King’s North, and it remains one of the area’s bedrock facilities. Combine MBN with Palmer’s work at Rivers Edge, one of the area’s prettiest layouts, and his impact on the area is unquestioned.
— Dan Maples doesn’t enjoy the national notoriety of some of the others on the list but that doesn’t diminish the quality of his portfolio. He designed more than 10 Myrtle Beach golf courses, including Heritage Club, Willbrook, Witch, Man O’War and Oyster Bay. Maples’ work has been at the heart of as many memorable golf trips as anyone.
— Willard Byrd, who has 11 area courses to his credit, had a significant influence on the market based on the volume of his work. Byrd’s layouts – highlighted by Litchfield Country Club, Farmstead and Lion’s Paw at Ocean Ridge Plantation, largely make up the destination’s all-important middle class. If you’ve taken a Myrtle Beach golf trip, there is a good chance you’ve enjoyed a Byrd design.
— The late Mike Strantz was a shooting star on the golf course architecture scene before his life was tragically cut short by cancer, but his work in the Myrtle Beach area remains impactful. Strantz designed Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and True Blue, a pair of top 100 public courses that continue to attract national attention even as favored design features evolve.
Also up for consideration: Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Gene Hamm and Tim Cate, among others.