Grande Dunes has six sets of tees, and most players never play any further back than the blues (6,737 yards). The most commonly played tees, the whites, are 6,272 yards, so while the course is long at first glance, it is exceedingly playable.
The fairways at Grande Dunes are generous and there aren’t an abundance of trees, inviting players to smack their driver. The course is open but parallel holes are the exception. The open space allows Grande Dunes’ L93 bentgrass greens, the area’s largest, ample ventilation, helping keep them in good condition even through the hot summer months.
Water is on 16 of 18 holes and provides many of the course’s most stunning visuals. Beginning on No. 8, five of eight holes play directly along the Intracoastal and two more offer memorable views. The stretch is among the most scenic in all of Myrtle Beach golf, highlighted by No. 14, Grande Dunes’ signature hole. The tee shot on 14 requires a carry over a lake and the green runs toward the Intracoastal.
It’s a beautiful hole, but so are 8, 9, 10 and 15, all of which play along the Intracoastal.
Beyond the course, Grande Dunes, which is part of a 2,200-acre community that runs from West of the Intracoastal to the Atlantic, strives to provide the “member for a day” experience and succeeds. From the gated entrance and crossing the Intracoastal on a private bridge to the service in the clubhouse, Grande Dunes treats players as well as any Myrtle Beach golf course.
The staff gets the pin sheets from the superintendent each and day and programs the flag locations into the GPS, insuring accuracy. The course has no signage, tee times are spaced 10 minutes apart, and the clubhouse boasts a full culinary staff.
“When you come over the bridge (to enter the property), we want you to check out of reality and let us take care of you for the next few hours,” Grande Dunes’ senior director, Mike Buccerone, said.
With two 4-star resorts, a Ruth’s Chris and a marina, among many other amenities, you could checkout in the Grande Dunes family of properties for days, but the Resort Course, which helped launched the development, has emerged as one of the area’s best and most popular courses.
An outstanding collection of holes, water is a significant factor on three of the four par 3s.
The Intracoastal first comes into play on No. 8, running behind the green. The hole also demands a tee shot over a lake and the wind coming off the Intracoastal often requires an extra club. No. 8 plays 179 yards from the blue tees and 155 from the whites, so it requires a little muscle.
The 11th is the only par 3 that doesn’t feature water and it’s surrounded by a waste bunker. The 11th is the course’s shortest, playing 190 from all the way back, and it’s the easiest hole on the back nine.
The aforementioned 14th is Grande Dunes signature hole. It’s a beautiful setting and a difficult hole. You won’t forget it.
There aren’t a lot of doglegs but rolling terrain and varied distances make Grande Dunes’ par 4s an enjoyable collection of holes.
In particular, the sixth hole stands out. It plays 330 yards from the blue tees and 305 from the whites, daring golfers to pull out and the driver and take a shot at glory. The only problem being a bunker in the fairway 250 yards from the tee. The choice is yours.
Five of the 10 par 4s play in excess of 400 yards, and a driver can be used on nearly every one. Grande Dunes isn’t a target course. The most significant dogleg is on the 18th, which bends sharply to the left. The 18th is one of the course’s best holes and as players drive down the fairway, the clubhouse, bridge and Marina Inn all come into full view. It’s a memorable way to end a round.
The par 5s at Grande Dunes all play in excess of 500 yards from the blue tees, and Rulewich makes players earn their birdies.
The fourth hole is a dogleg right that has water running up the entire right side and squeezes the fairway leading up to the green. This isn’t a good risk to attempt in two. The seventh is straight as an arrow but water lurks on both sides. On a course that allows players to swing away, accuracy is vital on the seventh.
Grande Dunes’ hardest hole is the par 5 13th. A forced carry over water is required on the drive and the approach, and the green is elevated. Some players opt to try and clear the pond on their second shot. Don’t do it. The intelligent play is to layup, but that leaves a 170-yard approach into the green.
The 17th is the only par 5 that offers a shot at going for the green in two. The hole plays 512 yards from the blue tees and is straight, so hit everything you’ve got, but the water that runs from tee to green on the left side will punish anything that hooks.
The Verdict: Grande Dunes opened to considerable acclaim nine years ago and the course has more than met the challenge. The layout is very playable, allowing players to hit driver and, cliché as it sounds, there really is a set of tees for everyone. The course offers a country club feel and the views of the Intracoastal are magnificent.
“We’ve had this course on our package for the last three years and it will probably be on again next year,” Kincaid said. “It’s a great layout.”
Kincaid’s view is shared by most who have played the course.