The Most Overrated Myrtle Beach Golf Courses, Part 2
Thistle Golf Club
For now, let Thistle represent all Tim Cate courses on this list (though I’ll be more than happy to mention some of his other designs in the future). The great thing about Tim Cate’s courses is that, to a great extent, once you’ve played one, you’ve played ‘em all. This is true on a hole-by-hole basis at Thistle. The par fives tend to have a hazard running down one entire side of the hole, with a couple bunkers interspersed along that same side to save misdirected shots from dampness…maybe. But if you just play away from the water—even if you hit it in the rough on the opposite side of the fairway—par should be attainable. Then there are the par threes, which vary from the back tees a whopping 28 yards. In a world where par threes can vary from 100 to 260 yards, if you have designed six par threes (Thistle has 27 holes) and players hit one of three or—maybe—four clubs off the tees, then you have pretty much failed as a golf course architect to make a maximally stimulating golf course.
Speaking of mostly unstimulating golf courses, International World Tour Golf Links’ founder couldn’t even muster the creativity to commission an original design, instead opting to bastardize 27 of the world’s most famous golf holes and slap them together in the name of novelty. Oh, by the way, the operators have lopped off one of the nines and sold the land for residential development, so it’s only 18 holes now. Anyway, the problem, though, is that even if World Tour’s holes were pretty good facsimiles of the originals when the course opened in 1999, years of shrinking fairways and receding green edges have made the place look thoroughly pedestrian. Take the first hole on the Championship (or back) Nine. It is supposed to be a copy of the 18th hole at Winged Foot’s East course but it’s really just a mundane long par four with bunkers short and left of the green. It’s a hole you’ve seen a thousand times, not a nuanced, lovingly transplanted great golf hole. At least the course is in good shape!
Grande Dunes Members Club
People who are familiar with the Myrtle Beach area tend to talk about the Members Club in whispers, especially if they haven’t played it. “Oh man, I’ll bet it’s awesome. I’d love to get on that course.” If and when they do (the course is far less private than most are led to believe; just call around to a few packagers and you’ll be able to get on), they might end up being a bit underwhelmed. Inexplicably, golf course designers Craig Schreiner and Nick Price decided not to route any holes with any kind of view of the Intracoastal Waterway, unlike the course’s counterpart Resort Club, which has half a dozen holes with at least Waterway views. The closest players get is on the 17th green and 18th tee at the Members Course, where you can kinda-sorta see a sliver of it through the trees…maybe. The course is always in top shape, even its increasingly tough-to-maintain bentgrass greens. The layout, though is not overly stimulating and, frankly, kind of easy. Big greens, bunkers that are set well back from a lot of fairways and greens, and not a lot of water. The closing holes on each nine are solid, but the overall experience is just a touch underwhelming.