Oldest Myrtle Beach Golf Course, Pine Lakes, Reopens

March 24, 2009

Pine Lakes Country Club of Myrtle Beach is the oldest golf course in the Grand Strand

The tummy has been tucked and the facelift completed, leaving Myrtle Beach’s favorite Granddaddy, Pine Lakes Country Club, ready to serve a cup of clam chowder with a memorable round of golf.

The oldest Myrtle Beach golf course, Pine Lakes, reopened on March 14 after a two-year, $15 million renovation that included an overhaul of the course and the clubhouse. Craig Schreiner handled the course renovation and his work reinvigorated the venerable layout.

After reviewing routing sketches by Pine Lakes’ original architect, Robert White, and drafting 12 layout plans of his own, Schreiner began work on the most anticipated redesign in Myrtle Beach golf history.

He restored the greens to their natural size, an average of more than 5,000 square feet per complex, considerably larger than when golfers last played Pine Lakes (official site). The fairways have much more movement, a mean’s of defense for a course with fewer than 40 bunkers. The movement in the fairways also gives the greens the appearance of being elevated.

Holes 10 through 18 follow the routing of White’s original nine-hole layout (hole-by-hole guide), opened in 1927, and mirror what was the front nine before the course closed. Schreiner did more work to what is now the front nine, designing two brand new holes – numbers four and five – but he maintained architectural continuity throughout.

“It’s a new Pine Lakes but when people come out here they are still going to recognize it as Pine Lakes,” said Mike Buccerone, the course’s senior director.

One hole everyone will recognize is the new No. 11, which was the par 3 seventh before the renovation. When the azaleas are blooming at No. 11 in the spring it’s nearly as scenic as any hole on the beach (photo gallery). The lake protecting the green is a little larger and a false front adds to the challenge, but it will remain a Pine Lakes favorite.

(As an aside, Big Dog, a Pine Lakes institution who served chowder at the hole, has retired. Pine Lakes is still serving free chowder but it’s in the clubhouse as opposed to on the course.)

The most challenging hole is one that will also look familiar. What is now the third hole (it used to be the 12th) is a dozy. Formerly a short par 5, No. 3 is now a 460-yard par 4 that requires a nervy approach into a green with water on the right and little room to bailout. A heckuva a golf hole.

Though Pine Lakes is the oldest Myrtle Beach golf course, it’s remains on the cutting edge. The Granddaddy is the first Grand Strand layout to install Seadwarf Paspalum, a sodium tolerant grass well suited to a course like Pine Lakes, located less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean.

What makes Pine Lakes’ use of Paspalum unique is that it covers the entire course. The only difference between the greens, fairways and the rough is mowing height. Long the grass of choice in the Caribbean, the early indications are positive.

“People love it,” Buccerone said. “The conditions of the golf course are great. The greens are excellent right now. We didn’t oversee but it’s greening up already and people are really enjoying it. It’s a fun golf course.”

The course is playing longer at 6,700 yards and par has been reduced to 70, down a stroke.

clubhouse rear.jpg

The work done on the clubhouse, which like the course is part of the National Historic Registry, is no less stunning. Featuring what is touted as a “Great Gatsby-esque” design, the integrity of the original clubhouse was preserved and a new 6,000 square foot wing was added. The new expanded area features the pro shop, locker rooms, Robert White Pub and an outside patio, among other features.

The original clubhouse still houses the Snug Pub, where the idea for Sports Illustrated was born, a pair of ballrooms, and History Hall, featuring mementos from the club’s past.

The original clubhouse will be primarily for the use of members, while the addition will cater to visiting golfers making a trip to the Myrtle Beach treasure.

Behind the clubhouse structure is the Hall of Fame Gardens, home of the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame’s first class was inaugurated as part of Pine Lakes’ reopening festivities. It’s worth the time to visit the Hall of Fame Garden for a quick tutorial on the people who helped Myrtle Beach grew into the world’s most popular golf destination.

While Pine Lakes’ past is worthy of celebration, the new-look course and clubhouse guarantee that it will continue to be among Myrtle Beach’s most prominent courses going forward.

“Come back and try it,” Buccerone said. “Everybody has a story about Pine Lakes, and hopefully when they leave they can take another good story with them.”