Myrtle Beach experienced the most explosive building boom in golf history, opening 87 courses between 1980-2001. Put another way, we opened just over 4 new courses per year for 21 years.
It’s stunning to think about.
Course construction understandably ground to a halt – Myrtle Beach hasn’t opened a new course since Founders Club in 2008 – and several layouts have sadly closed to make way for housing (all the golfers moving here have to live somewhere!). With the benefit of hindsight, we looked over a chronological listing of every golf course opening and asked, “What was the best year in Myrtle Beach golf history?”
Evaluations were based on the quality and quantity of courses that opened, with the stipulation that the layouts remain open. Here are the three best years in Myrtle Beach golf history.
1. The first year of the new millennium was one long party for Myrtle Beach golfers. Six courses opened in 2000 and four of them were eventually ranked among the nation’s top 100 public courses. Headlining the class of 2000 were the Norman, Love, Dye (top photo) and Fazio courses at Barefoot Resort, which became the first, and is still the only, property to open four layouts simultaneously. Also debuting were Tiger’s Eye (I was at the grand opening and they had a live tiger there!) and International Club, which continues to provide a value-packed experience. The Love, Fazio and Dye courses, in addition to Tiger’s Eye, earned top 100 honors. Tiger’s Eye has struggled with conditioning in recent years but it remains an enjoyable layout.
2. In the battle for supremacy, 1999 was a close second. TPC Myrtle Beach, which opened just in time to host the Senior PGA Tour Championship, highlighted the year’s best and it was joined by a star-studded supporting class that included Rivers Edge, World Tour, Thistle, Crow Creek and Diamond Back. TPC and Rivers Edge, an unforgettable Arnold Palmer design that plays along the Shallotte River, earned top 100 honors, and World Tour is a must-play layout. Thistle and Crow Creek are outstanding designs as well. You could book a great golf trip playing only courses that opened in 1999.
3. In the middle of the Myrtle Beach golf explosion, 1990 gave us a year to remember as Tidewater, Heathland, Moorland, Blackmoor, the Byrd Course at Sea Trail and Indigo Creek opened their fairways. Tidewater remains a consensus top 5 Myrtle Beach golf course and Heathland, a Tom Doak design, is a favorite of the architecture crowd, as is Moorland, a P.B. Dye creation. Blackmoor, Gary Player’s only Myrtle Beach golf course, is popular among locals and visitors alike.
Strong honorable mention goes to 1988, the year Jack Nicklaus opened a pair of courses – Pawleys Plantation and Long Bay – making it the year of the Golden Bear in Myrtle Beach. Throw in River Hills, Willbrook, Lockwood Folly and Colonial Charters, and 1988 was a great year for golfers.
There you have it, the three best years (and one strong honorable mention) in Myrtle Beach golf history.