South Carolina Golf Course Architecture: A Study in Style


South Carolina is often cited as the mecca of golf in America. However, the crown jewel that shines the brightest in this golfing paradise is undoubtedly Myrtle Beach. Nestled along the South Atlantic coast, Myrtle Beach teems with an array of breathtakingly beautiful and challenging golf courses, designed by some of the most prominent architects in the golfing world.

A Rich Tapestry of Designs

Myrtle Beach’s golf courses – over 80 in number – are an eclectic fusion of varying design philosophies. They exhibit styles that range from traditional to contemporary, with individual flair evident in the layouts.

Consider the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, a masterpiece and the marquee layout of Robert Trent Jones Sr., the father of modern golf architecture. It features his signature runway tees and large, subtly contoured greens. His strategic design is wear-resistant, making it both challenging from the back tees and manageable for less skilled golfers.

Another shining example is TPC Myrtle Beach, the handiwork of Tom Fazio. Here, the design leans heavily on nature, making the most of the land’s topographical features to create visually striking and strategically sound holes, a Fazio hallmark.

Environment Comes First

In Myrtle Beach, the golf course architecture not only showcases style and innovation but also environmental compatibility. Many courses are crafted to blend harmoniously with the existing habitats, preserving the natural beauty of the region.

The Heritage Club, a classic Larry Young and Dan Maples creation, is one such course. It salvages centuries-old oak trees, marshlands, and magnolias in a manner that embraces sustainability without compromising on the golfing experience.

The Changing Terrains

The golf courses of Myrtle Beach also stand out because of their diverse terrains. The varied landscapes on the Grand Strand include saltwater marshes, dense hardwood forests, naturally sandy areas, and meticulously manicured fairways.

For example, Prestwick Country Club, co-designed by Pete & P.B. Dye, features Scottish-style links set amidst dense hardwood forest. On the other hand, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, a Mike Strantz signature, presents a stunningly unique blend of 18th-century rice plantation aesthetics and low-country coastline vistas.

Influence of the Legends

Myrtle Beach’s golf architectural landscape is also significantly influenced by golfing legends like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. Their design companies have left an indelible mark, contributing to the unique diversity of the region’s courses.

The King’s North at Myrtle Beach National, a stunning Arnold Palmer design, is known for its island fairway and vast water hazards. Likewise, Long Bay Club, a Jack Nicklaus signature, is touted for its treacherous and unmatched challenge, incorporating formidable sand and water features throughout the course.


South Carolina’s artistry in golf course architecture is a testament to the vital role design plays in the game. The multifaceted designs of Myrtle Beach courses wonderfully capture the essence of modern golf architecture, making them not just playgrounds for golfers but also breathtaking landscapes for spectators.

From the subtle nuances of a Pete Dye design to the spectacular visual appeal of a Tom Fazio course, Myrtle Beach is indeed a living museum of golf course architecture. It stands as a shining beacon, illustrating the confluence of golf and nature, history and innovation, challenge and beauty that is embodied in the architectural marvels of its golf courses.

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