One of the most prolific architects of his generation, Willard Byrd was known for crafting courses that emphasized playability, a reputation that was enhanced by his work in the Myrtle Beach golf market.
Included among the native North Carolinian’s 100-course portfolio are six Grand Stand layouts that continue to delight players, including a couple of trailblazing designs.
● The influence of Byrd’s initial foray into the Myrtle Beach market continues to be felt today. In 1966, Myrtle Beach was a sleepy beach town and the area was home to just eight courses, meaning the idea of building a layout in Pawleys Island was a wild one. Enter Byrd, who opened the gates to the South Strand when he built Litchfield Country Club. More than 50 years later, Litchfield remains a favorite of locals and visitors alike, Pawleys Island is home to some of America’s best courses, and Byrd helped prove golfers would make the drive South.
● Lockwood Folly is arguably Byrd’s most scenic Myrtle Beach-area golf course. Playing through sprawling live oak trees and a pine forest, the course brings players to the banks of the Lockwood Folly River, delivering the type of coastal beauty that motivates people to take trips.
● Byrd’s youngest area course, International Club, opened in 2000 and delivers the playability and fairness Byrd was renowned for. This Murrells Inlet design challenges the best of players from the 6,857-yard black tees while providing mid to high handicappers with a fair test. Combine that playability with International Club’s value and you have an ideal course for your next trip.
● His namesake design at Sea Trail, the Byrd Course, is arguably the 54-hole property’s best. The layout, which places a premium on accuracy off the tee, plays around numerous lakes, adding an element of danger to a course that otherwise provides plenty of scoring opportunities.
● Ocean Ridge Plantation is Brunswick County’s most recognizable multi-course facility, and it was Byrd who introduced the first of the “Big Cats” to the Myrtle Beach golf scene when Lion’s Paw opened in 1991. The layout plays through wetlands and a rolling piece of property, providing scenery and an enjoyable test of golf.
● Meadowlands Golf Club might be the best example of Byrd’s commitment to building courses designed to give golfers a chance to score. With a slope and rating of 69.9/118 from the white tees, golfers have no excuse for not posting a score they look forward to telling their friends about. Even better, Meadowlands, a former National Golf Course Owners Association Course of the Year recipient, is in spectacular condition.
Willard Byrd doesn’t enjoy the national reputation of some of his architectural contemporaries, but his work in Myrtle Beach has truly stood the test of time.