You could say the Golf Advisor staff knows a thing or two about golf in Myrtle Beach.
Our managing editor, Brandon Tucker, lived there for 18 months. His personal top 10 Myrtle Beach golf courses list is a valuable resource.
I spent the better part of three years living and working there, too, plus countless family vacations growing up.
Between us, it's safe to say that we've got a pretty good handle on golf along the 60-mile "Grand Strand" from Pawleys Island, S.C. up over the North Carolina border.
The following list is a little different. While my own personal course ordering might be different, I endorse Brandon's list as including the best-of-the-best Myrtle Beach area courses, so no need to duplicate his effort.
This list is all about sniffing out the lesser-known, more hidden gems that many golfers discover when their golf package provider slips it onto their trip itinerary. With more than 80 golf courses, even experienced Myrtle Beach visitors can be intimidated by the sheer variety throughout the region. They've heard of the big-time courses, but it's often the unexpected surprise-hit layouts that separate an all-time great trip from a merely good one.
With that in mind, if you're thinking of heading to Myrtle Beach, here are 10 underrated golf courses (presented in alphabetical order) that will add variety and value to your trip. You can book them as part of a package or make them an add-on to a family trip to the beach. You just might end up enjoying them as much as the big-name, pricier layouts that get the most publicity.
Arcadian Shores Golf Club
Located where Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach meet, Arcadian Shores became Rees Jones' first solo foray into golf course design when it opened in 1974, kicking off an influential career. This course has a lot in common with the vaunted Dunes Golf & Beach Club, which Rees' father Robert Trent Jones, Sr., laid out a quarter-century earlier: gently rolling terrain, multi-section greens and tree-lined fairways that place a premium on straight driving. Unlike the Dunes, Arcadian Shores is publicly accessible and its rates are fairly modest. Some updates a couple summers ago thinned out a bit of overgrowth and gave the course new Sunday Bermuda greens, plus a renovated clubhouse. $87 (Fall 2020 weekend morning rate as of press time).
Beachwood Golf Course
Opened in 1968 and designed by Gene Hamm, Beachwood is a prime example of cheap-and-cheerful golf in the Myrtle Beach area. Rather than high rates and fussy service touches, it has provided solid, pleasant golf experiences and a friendly staff for more than a half century. And unlike most area courses, Beachwood has no houses bordering fairways, making for a rare "core" golf course on the Grand Strand. Its long par-3 18th is one of the toughest finishing holes at the beach. $54.
Diamondback Golf Course
One of the more remote layouts on the Grand Strand, Diamondback is located near the town of Loris out Highway 9, a main entryway into the area from points north. This makes it a good choice for a first-round on the way into town of a last round on the way home for many drive-in visitors. The Russell Breeden design winds beside the Juniper swamp, with several wetlands coming into play and a few sneaky forced carries. Recently laid Sunday Bermuda green surfaces have received positive feedback from recent visitors, too. $56.
Farmstead Golf Links
I’ll admit that when Farmstead opened in 2001 and promoted both its par-6 finishing hole and the fact that the back nine crosses the border between North and South Carolina a couple times, I thought the course would be gimmicky. But I was wrong; Farmstead is one of the best courses on the North Carolina side of the Grand Strand, with an open feel and a fun mix of holes set on some gently rolling former farmland. The par-6 18th actually works, too, because it’s fairly straightforward and can be a birdie or eagle hole. Anytime I’ve played Farmstead, it’s been in excellent shape, and if you catch it on a breezy and dry day, you can hit some really big tee shots. $95.
Legends Golf Resort (Heathland)
In 1991, a young architect named Tom Doak fashioned a course in flat, hot coastal South Carolina that managed to evoke the great courses of the United Kingdom without appearing forced or hokey, but rather tons of fun for golfers to play. The best of busy Legends Resort’s three golf courses, Heathland has wide fairways, big greens and strategic bunkering that are fun to figure out over the course of a round. Even though the principles in use go back centuries, playing this course doesn’t get old. $91.
Leopard's Chase Golf Links
The most recent of Ocean Ridge Plantation’s four “Big Cats” courses, Leopard’s Chase still tends to get outranked by its older sibling Tiger’s Eye, but I actually prefer it. Architect Tim Cate did a nice job of exploring Ocean Ridge’s expansive property here, including finding some fun elevation changes on the back nine that liven up the routing. The boulder-rimmed water hazards - plus an 18th hole waterfall - are striking and memorable, too. $122.
Myrtlewood Golf Club (Palmetto Course)
Nearly a half-century old, the Palmetto Course is better than ever thanks to a restrained but impactful renovation project undertaken Founders Group International, the course’s owners, in 2019. Architect Dan Schlegel, who worked for Palmetto’s original designers Ed Ault and Tom Clark, reshaped and repositioned the bunkering, giving the course some much-needed flow and character. He also presided over a recapturing of thousands of square feet of putting surface space, plus the widening of every fairway, which makes the course playable for all level of player. It’s an example of how a renovation project does not need to be all-encompassing in order to greatly improve a golf course. $77.
Prestwick Country Club
The term “locals’ favorite” is sometimes applied to a place that simply does not rise to the quality of its more famous neighbors. But in the case of Prestwick, a Pete and P.B. Dye gem just south of Myrtle Beach proper, it’s the club’s semi-private nature that keeps it under the radar. With a healthy membership, Prestwick doesn’t market itself as heavily as some other area courses, even though it is no less welcoming to outside play. The undulating greens are in perfect shape, and the mischievous Dye eye for interesting golf is everywhere. A recent survey of area golf pros ranked Prestwick as one of the Grand Strand’s top five courses. I agree. $101.
Whispering Pines Golf Course
Owned by the City of Myrtle Beach and located on a former US Air Force base, Whispering Pines has had a bit of an up-and-down history. But ever since it was spared from redevelopment and instead renovated in 2014, it has hidden in plain sight literally across the street from the Myrtle Beach International Airport. Its highlights include the par-3 17th, which looks straight out at the runway. Current course operator Chip Smith is an area industry veteran who previously ran the excellent TPC Myrtle Beach. $47.
Wild Wing Plantation (Avocet Course)
In its heyday, Wild Wing was a bustling 72-hole behemoth of a golf facility, until changing economic fortunes and bulldozers came for 45 of its holes in the 2000s. Luckily, they spared the place’s best intact 18-holer, the Avocet Course, which architect Jeff Brauer laid out in the early 1990s with help from three-time major champion Larry Nelson. Expressive mounding and at times quirky bunkering help Avocet stand out in a golfer’s memory more than its lost siblings ever did, and the drivable par-4 14th hole is one of the best of its kind in America. $99.