Part I: The 10 Most Significant Myrtle Beach Golf Developments of the Decade

December 3, 2009

NorthCourse-LeopardsChase.jpgThe first decade of the 21st century is nearly in the books, and it has been an eventful one for the Myrtle Beach golf community. From high profile course openings to unprecedented recognition from industry leaders, there has been an abundance of news emanating from the Grand Strand.

Some of the stories flashed across the landscape like a supernova, spectacular while they lasted but forgotten nearly just as fast. But many stories have had a lasting impact on the community and the countless golfers who make an annual pilgrimage to the Golf Capital of the World.

Over the course of the next two emails, we will rank the Top 10 events that shaped the Myrtle Beach golf scene over the last 10 years. Below are the events that ranked No. 6 through No. 10.

No. 10 Opening of Highway 31: At one point, travel across the Grand Strand wasn’t always easy, but the opening of Highway 31, a six-lane expressway that connects 501 to route 9, helped changed that. The new road allows golfers to get from the heart of Myrtle Beach to the North Carolina line in 25 minutes, greatly enhancing the accessibility of the North Strand courses. With exits off the road in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach as well, it has been a boon to golfers.

No. 9 Road Trip!!: The Golf Channel launched a first-of-its-kind reality show, Road Trip: Myrtle Beach in 2008, following the adventures of show host Charlie Rymer, singer-song writer Josh Kelly, Hootie & the Blowfish guitarist Mark Bryan and professional golfer Perry Swenson. The show was an unprecedented look at Myrtle Beach from the game’s most popular media outlet, and it exposed the area to golfers across the nation.

No. 8 The Granddaddy Get a Facelift: Myrtle Beach’s first golf course, Pine Lakes, received a $15 million renovation and reopened in the spring of 2009. The Craig Schreiner led project was met with rave reviews and returned one of the area’s most history-laden courses to its rightful place among Myrtle Beach’s most prominent layouts.

No. 7 Another Big Cat Prowls The Strand: The golf course building boom officially came to an end the second half of the decade, but there were still a few prominent openings, including Founders Club, but  Leopard’s Chase, a Tim Cate design and the fourth Big Cat at Ocean Ridge Plantation, attracted the most acclaim. Leopard’s Chase was named one of America’s Top 10 New Courses upon its 2007 opening and few Grand Strand insiders will be surprised if it is eventually ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.

No. 6 Flying the Friendly Skies: Myrtle Beach is America’s most popular golf destination, but for many years flight service from to the area was lacking. Golfers from Raleigh, Richmond and Roanoke may not have noticed, but in the second half of the decade Myrtle Beach significantly increased its direct flight service from the likes of New York City, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. With that being said, here is to hoping more markets have access to direct service in the future.