CONWAY, S.C. -- Casual golfers might not recognize the name Dan Maples, but savvy golfers know the underrated architect belongs to a respected family in golf.
Maples designed several highly regarded courses with his father, Ellis Maples, before launching a successful career of his own in the 1980s. Maples courses have become synonymous with playable, commonsense golf without gimmicks. Golf Digest ranks seven Dan Maples courses among its top 60 along the Grand Strand, which is more than any other architect.
The Grand Strand is home to more than 90 golf courses stretching from Bolivia, N.C., to Pawleys Island, S.C. A strong five-pack by Maples sits just beyond the North Carolina border: Sandpiper Bay Golf & Country Club, Oyster Bay Golf Links, the Maples Course at Sea Trail Golf Resort & Convention Center and the East Course and West Course at The Pearl.
A trio owned by Mystical Golf -- The Witch Golf Club, The Wizard Golf Club and Man O' War Golf Club -- are more centrally located to Myrtle Beach proper, while Willbrook Plantation Golf Club and The Heritage Club anchor the southern end in Pawleys Island. Golf Digest considers The Heritage Club as Maples' finest work, but truth be told, they're all pretty good.