Living in the Myrtle Beach area for years, I always wondered what my score would be if I played the toughest 18 holes on the Grand Strand as if they were all on one golf course. This is an attempt to “construct” the toughest par 72 golf course on the Grand Strand using holes from various Myrtle Beach area golf courses. To make it even more interesting, the holes will be kept in the correct order based on their original position on their golf course (i.e., Hole #1 will be the first hole on its course, Hole #2 will be Hole #2 on its course, etc.).
I wrote a previous article listing the toughest front nine holes in the Myrtle Beach area. The title of that article is “Toughest Golf Course in the Myrtle Beach Area – The Front Nine.” This article completes the course by adding the final nine holes.
Please note that I did not include any holes on courses designed by Pete Dye and his son, P.B. Dye. That is because I would rank the courses designed by these two, individually and jointly, among the most challenging in the area. This would include Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club, The Legends Moorland course, Prestwick Golf and Country Club, and The Founder’s Club at St. James Plantation. I will write a future article to celebrate these two great course designers.
In my opinion, here are the toughest back nine holes in the Myrtle Beach area.
Hole 10 – True Blue #10 – 599 yard par 5. A great beginning to the back nine is this stout par 5. The tenth hole at True Blue features an elevated tee shot to a sweeping dogleg right. There is a vast waste area along the right side of the fairway. Playing the hole as a true three-shot par 5 is the best option. With sand bunkers positioned left, right, and short of the target yardage for the second shot, a poor lay up will bring bogey into the equation. The third shot features a cavernous bunker fronting the green and severe elevation change greeting any shot over the green; an accurate wedge shot is essential. Honorable mention: Tradition Golf Club #10 or Grande Dunes Resort Course #10.
Hole 11 – Dunes Club #11 – 430 yard par 4. Two words describe this hole – picturesque and terrifying. With marsh framing the entire right side of the hole, number eleven at Dunes Club is one of the more intimidating tee shots on the beach! The eleventh hole is a dogleg right par four that requires a precise tee shot. A tee shot too far right will find the marsh and a tee shot too far left will leave you attempting to navigate your approach shot through wide trunks of huge oak trees. With marsh and a problematic bunker on the right, a meticulous approach to a narrow green is required. There is no bail-out area on the approach shot! I always breathe a sigh of relief once I hit any part of the green in regulation! Honorable mention: Rivers Edge #11.
Hole 12 – Tidewater#12 – 198 yard par 3. With striking live oaks sprinkling the left and breathtaking saltwater marsh along the front and right side of the hole, Tidewater #12 presents a daunting tee shot. I take an extra club and aim for the back of the green. The problem with this approach is you can be pin-high to the back part of the green, yet in the marsh if you push the tee shot too far right. There are bunkers along the left and front of the green. Hitting into the bunker is a better alternative than hitting short of the sand trap, into the marsh. Swirling winds from the Atlantic Ocean can add or drop up to a two club difference from the listed yardage. Breathtaking views in every direction will lessen the sting of hitting your tee shot into the soup. Honorable mention: Barefoot – Love #12.
Hole 13 – Pawleys Plantation#13 – 130 yard par 3. Having two consecutive par 3’s is not something you would see on most courses, but the daunting par 3 thirteenth hole at Pawleys Plantation narrowly bested the majestic Dunes Club #13. Measuring 145 yards from the tips and 115 yards from the blue tee, Pawleys Plantation #13 proves you do not have to have a 220 yard approach shot in order to make a hole difficult. Pawleys Plantation #13 is set on a thin strip of a dike that stretches across the salt marsh. The tee shot across the picturesque water to a small, firm peninsula green will test your confidence in club selection and trajectory. Combine the varying wind speed and direction, you feel like you are trying to land the ball onto a slick end table. I have left a punch eight iron woefully short of the target and I have flown the green with a 60 degree wedge. If there is a strong wind, the prudent play is bailing-out right of the green. Honorable mention: Dunes Club #13.
Hole 14 – Legends – Parkland #14 – 465 yard par 4. The fourteenth hole at Legends – Parkland is an exhausting par 4. The fairway jigsaws north, then east, then north again; which will leave you a difficult target on both the tee and approach shot. If you have the mindset that Legends – Parkland #14 is a short par 5, you will play more conservative angles from the tee and to the green; affording a better opportunity at par. Typical of the entire course, there is plenty of undulation on #14 green at Legends – Parkland. Awesome hole! Honorable mention: Pearl – West #14 or Pine Lakes #14.
Hole 15 – Grande Dunes Resort Course #15 – 468 yard par 4. Requiring both distance and precision, Grande Dunes Resort Course number 15 is one of the more daunting par 4’s on the beach! With large bunkers on the right side of the fairway, a left center tee shot is required to have any chance to reach the green in regulation. The approach shot is usually on a downhill slope, to a multi-tiered green, with a substantial bunker fronting the entire depth of the target landing area. Factor the swirling wind, reaching the green in regulation on this difficult hole is an epic undertaking! Grande Dunes Resort Course #15 is one of the more scenic, entertaining holes to play. Honorable mention: Pearl – West #15
Hole 16 – Oyster Bay #16 – 470 yard par 4. This lengthy par 4 usually plays into the wind. With a large lake that stretches along the entire right side of the fairway, water comes into play on your tee shot and approach to the green. To cut distance for your approach shot and to provide a better angle to the green, you will be tempted to hit your tee shot to the right side of the fairway. The smart play is to aim for the center of the fairway, away from the water on the right; you will have a longer approach shot at a more difficult angle, but you take double bogey out of the equation. The green is protected with steep bunkers left and water right. Depending on the course condition, bogey is not a bad score. Honorable mention: Glen Dornoch #16 – 435 par 4.
Hole 17 – Leopard’s Chase#17 – 585 yard par 5. Leopard’s Chase #17 is an excellent par five that rewards the player who is proficient in shaping the ball. With out-of-bounds along the entire left side of the fairway, golfers are tempted to aim right off of the tee. If you can work the ball from right to left, aiming right center and working the ball left from the right side is the optimal tee shot. There is a considerable fairway bunker on the right side of the hole, willing to welcome any errant stray tee shot. Hitting your tee shot into the bunker right is no bargain because you will be faced with a demanding second shot with either a long iron or fairway wood, over water. There is a large bunker in front of a tricky, undulating green. This is a true par 5! Honorable mention: River Hills #17 – 526 yard par 5.
Hole 18 – Tidewater #18 – 450 yard par 4. Bringing the toughest par 72 course to a crescendo is Tidewater #18! Measuring 450 yards from the tips, the tee shot must reach the corner of the dogleg. If you do not reach the corner of the dogleg left, you will have to start your approach shot over the marsh to a long, narrow green. A poor tee shot will force a lay-up shot. With marsh, large trees, and bunkers coming into play, laying-up is no bargain. The marsh is merely a footstep away from the edge of the green. Wind almost always comes into play on this imposing finishing hole! Honorable mention: Glen Dornoch #18 or Long Bay #18.
So, there is my back nine. Did I miss any holes on the Grand Strand? Are there any holes you believe are tougher? If you haven’t played any of these great Myrtle Beach golf courses, I urge you to do so on your next trip to Myrtle Beach. I would love to hear any comments and/or suggestions.
In summary, here is the toughest par 72 golf course on the Grand Strand:
#1 True Blue (Par 5, 624 yds)
#2 Barefoot – Fazio (Par 4, 458 yds)
#3 Lion’s Paw (Par 3, 204 yds)
#4 Tidewater (Par 4, 430 yds)
#5 Carolina National – Heron (Par 3, 203 yds)
#6 Glen Dornoch (Par 4, 410 yds)
#7 Leopard’s Chase (Par 4, 451 yds)
#8 Thistle – Stewart (Par 4, 443 yds)
#9 River’s Edge (Par 5, 570 yds)
#10 True Blue (Par 5, 590 yds)
#11 Dunes Club (Par 4, 430 yds)
#12 Tidewater (Par 3, 198 yds)
#13 Pawleys Plantation (Par 3, 145 yds)
#14 Legends – Parkland (Par 4, 465 yds)
#15 Grande Dunes – Resort (Par 4, 468 yds)
#16 Oyster Bay (Par 4, 470 yds)
#17 Leopard’s Chase (Par 5, 585 yds)
#18 Tidewater (Par 4, 450 yds)