Things aren't always the way they seem. Remember M. Night Shyamalan's movie, The Sixth Sense, with its edge-of-your-seat surprise ending? (If you haven't seen it, Bruce Willis reveals in the last minute that he wears a toupee.) Just kidding._Ê
Of course, great movies aren't the only things that utilize the old bait and switch. Consider Myrtle Beach, golf's East Coast Mecca. For one thing, the one hundred-plus courses that you always hear about aren't piled on top of each other; they stretch out over a 60-mile "Grand Strand," making Myrtle a tale of two cities: the North and South. Then there's the courses themselves. Some on the northern end, such as Lion's Paw, sound ferocious, when in reality, they're about as terrifying as a greeting-card kitten. An hour south, in Georgetown County (at the southern tip of the Strand), courses like Heritage and Tradition–two standouts on the Waccamaw Golf Trail–may sound gentlemanly enough, but let your guard down for a second, and you could get a serious whoopin'.
Southern Charm Six standouts on the Waccamaw Golf Trail _Ê Heritage Club (800) 882-5121 www.legendsgolf.com Designer: Larry Young Built over 600 acres on two former South Carolina plantations along the Waccamaw River, the Heritage Club has long been a favorite of Grand Strand golfers. Litchfield Country Club (800) 882-3198 www.mbngolf.com Designer: Willard Byrd Built in the early 1960s by Willard Byrd, this traditionally styled layout is the flagship of Georgetown County's great plantation courses. The mature tree-lined fairways wind their way past giant oaks and shimmering lakes of a former Carolina rice plantation, creating an extraordinarily challenging "country club" experience. River Club (800) 882-3198 www.mbngolf.com Designer: Tom Jackson The semi-private River Club at Litchfield is one of the highest-rated courses on the Grand Strand and features the only bent-grass greens in the Pawleys Island area. Despite having generous landing areas, this course is a stern test with water coming into play on almost every hole, along with more than 100 bunkers awaiting the stray shot. Tradition Club (877) 599-0888 www.traditiongolfclub.com Designer: Ron Garl Located adjacent to the Willbrook community in Litchfield Beach, Tradition Golf Club is a championship course that boasts the proud traditions of other great layouts that have stood the test of time. True Blue (888) 483-6801 www.truebluegolf.com Designer: Mike Strantz Ranked among the top public courses in America, True Blue provides one of the most visually dramatic layouts you'll ever encounter, with vast fairways, large, undulating greens and some surprising elevation changes. The rolling terrain and native vegetation of this once thriving indigo and rice plantation makes for one of the most spectacular settings in golf. Founders Club at Pawleys Island (800) 833-6337 www.classicgolfgroup.com Designer: Gene Hamm The golf course formerly known as Sea Gull Golf Club is undergoing a $7 million makeover (not to mention a name change). Thomas Walker, former lead designer for Gary Player Design, heads the design of the new "Founders Club," scheduled to open in September 2007.
Alma Matters Glory Days Alumni Golf Classic. Miss your college buddies? Miss beating up on your archrivals? 2007 marks the inaugural year of the Glory Days Alumni Golf Classic, a four-man 54-hole Ryder Cup-esque event in which alma maters duke it out. More than just a chance to relive your glory days, there are some serious bragging rights to be won, plus you can tailgate, down a couple cold ones and win some cool prizes. (No word yet on if there'll be a keg stand competition.) Not to mention, it's an affordable way to enjoy four of Myrtle Beach's premier South Strand courses: Willbrook Plantation Golf Club, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, Pawleys Plantation and TPC of Myrtle Beach. May 16-20, 2007. www.glorydaysgolf.com
Northern De-Lights Six tracks that will keep you coming back _Ê Grande Dunes Resort Course (888) 886-8877 www.grandedunes.com Designer: Roger G. Rulewich Robert Trent Jones' prot"©g"© Roger Rulewich wasn't afraid to incorporate water into his Grande Dunes design. The wet stuff comes into play on nearly every hole, but makes its biggest splash on the go-for-broke (or chicken out and lay up) 13th, a risk/reward par-5 in which water bisects the fairway 150 yards from the green. In addition to the Resort Course, a private Members Course codesigned by Nick Price and Craig Schreiner opened in June 2005. Tidewater Golf Club (800) 446-5363 www.tide-water.com Designer: Ken Tomlinson Will Tidewater's real architect please stand up? Rumors abound that it was Rees Jones who did the heavy lifting on this course and not the fledgling architect (but seasoned attorney) Ken Tomlinson. Regardless of who gets final credit, Tidewater holds its own. Just see its name sprinkled among the numerous "Best Of" lists for evidence. Case closed. Glen Dornoch Golf Club (866) 259-0558 www.glendornoch.com Designer: Clyde Johnston Royal Dornoch in Scotland may be one of the greatest courses on the planet, but Glen Dornoch (Royal's long lost foster brother's stepson's half sister) is, well, a chip off the old block. The course, just a few miles south of the North Carolina border, opened in 1996 and isn't a pushover (its slope rating peaks at 141). As part of the four Scottish-themed courses in the Glens Group, Dornoch's proximity to the Intracoastal Waterway will have your kilt blowing in the wind. Possum Trot Golf Club (866) 259-0558 www.possumtrot.com Designer: Russell Breeden Opened in 1968, Possum remains one of the best values in Myrtle Beach. Another course in the Glens Group, it's known for being short and forgiving, making it a favorite among the ladies. Men will walk away with an ego boost too, as the white tees max out at a dainty 6,400 yards. But the best thing remains the price: For as little as $30, you can say you played a "Scottish Course" without ever having crossed the ocean. Lion's Paw (800) 233-1801 www.big-cats.com Designer: William Bird According to numerous sources, Lion's Paw is considered to be William Byrd's best work, but at times, this cat seems to be all meow and no bite. The relatively flat design is toughened up with numerous water hazards (the most intimidating being number 5 when it comes into play on your tee and approach shots) and a wind that regularly blows in off the nearby Atlantic. Long Bay (800) 882-3420 www.mbn.com Designer: Jack Nicklaus Despite being designed by the Golden Bear, Long Bay doesn't have the same claws as some of Nicklaus's other designs. The 13th, a par-3 with an island green, greets you as you drive in, but at a maximum 156 yards, it manages to remain the number 18 handicap hole. The 10th (pictured above) brings to mind the bunker-lovin' Pete Dye.