By Jim Maggio
OK, folks. Super Bowl’s over. Baseball season’s upon us now, as pitchers and catchers are reporting to Spring Training as we speak. Hope springs eternal for every baseball fan this time of year, and there’s no better time to feel that ultimate sense of renewal.
But planning the ultimate spring golf getaway is also on your mind. You’ve got visions in your head of beautiful Grand Strand golf courses up and down your roster, but you’re not quite sure which players should ultimately fill out that lineup card (or where they should bat in the order, for that matter). You’re the manager, and now’s a great time to choose the starting nine for your spring batting order.
The challenge for this particular trip (or “game”): choosing the nine Myrtle Beach courses that each deliver sheer beauty, feel like they offer a true “escape” from the daily realities of off-the-course life, and deliver a visual impression that will stay with you for a lifetime.
On that basis alone – and in the spirit of “America’s National Pastime” – here’s my lineup card:
Rivers Edge – Hard to find a better leadoff hitter for this lineup. Several holes that play into and along the Shallotte River take center stage throughout your round, particularly No. 9 with its renowned peninsula green and Rivers Edge’s finishing three-hole stretch that’s one of the Grand Strand’s most memorable.
Heritage Club – A classic number 2 hitter that gives you a different look than from the leadoff spot, but is also suited for long-ball hitters with its spacious fairways. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more idyllic Lowcountry setting, and Heritage delivers on that promise in spades. Nestled along the Waccamaw River, Heritage accentuates the features of this former rice field property with a striking combination of centuries-old oaks, saltwater marshes and freshwater lakes.
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club – The 3 hole is a spot typically reserved for the team’s best all-around hitter, and The Dunes Club never disappoints. Hole No. 9 plays directly into the nearby Atlantic Ocean, while its famed “Alligator Alley” (Holes 11 through 13) is Myrtle Beach’s most renowned three hole-stretch where the natural elements of Lake Singleton are squarely in the spotlight.Caledonia – We need a course with the visually highest impact here, and Mike Strantz delivers it with big-time thump. The entry drive through its long tunnel of moss-draped oaks is easily the Grand Strand’s most dramatic, and sets the perfect tone for the sheer beauty you’ll encounter throughout your visit.
Tidewater – Plenty of extra base power at this Ken Tomlinson masterpiece. It’s been referred to as “The Pebble Beach of the East,” and though you won’t find any holes positioned along a high oceanside bluff, at Tidewater you’ll nevertheless encounter several of Myrtle Beach’s most photographed holes – particularly its scenic waterside beauties at 3, 4, 8 and 12.
Pawleys Plantation – A 6-hole hitter should be versatile: it’s a good spot to flash your power, but it will often demand strategic situational hitting. Look no further than Jack Nicklaus’ signature Lowcountry classic as the perfect setting to demonstrate this theory. And with five holes along the back nine dramatically playing into, along or through an expansive tidal marsh, it’s a visual stunner as well.
A well-balanced lineup maintains tremendous talent in its lower third, emulates the best traits of both the top and middle of your starting nine, and offers a “second leadoff hitter” in the No. 9 spot that sets the table perfectly for the leadoff hitter’s next turn at bat. In that spirit, we round out the lineup card with …
Glen Dornoch – One heck of a 7-hole hitter here. Its beautiful Intracoastal Waterway location offers the perfect backdrop for another of the Grand Strand’s premier three-hole stretches, with this one (Holes 16-18) arguably Myrtle Beach’s best and most scenic finishing trio.
Willbrook – Just like its South Strand neighbors at Caledonia, Heritage and Pawleys Plantation, this Dan Maples design exudes Lowcountry ambience in spades. And if you’re timing it right for a spring trip, the azalea blooms that surround the clubhouse and No. 1 tee are stunning. Willbrook offers the talent and versatility you crave in any good lineup; it’s in the 8 hole here, but could just as easily move to any of several spots in your lineup.
The Pearl – Like its Brunswick County neighbor at Rivers Edge, The Pearl plays scenically and dramatically along the river – in this case the Calabash River, the backdrop and sidekick for yet another memorable three-hole stretch (West holes 6-8) as well as three additional holes. In this lineup, it fits just as well in Rivers Edge’s leadoff spot as in the 9 hole here.