Heading to Myrtle Beach with golf on your mind? Don't forget the private clubs. Golf courses such as the Dunes Golf & Beach Club and Grande Dunes Members Club have loopholes that, if used, can get you a tee time.
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - No stretch of golf courses on the eastern seaboard is as accessible as the Grand Strand in North and South Carolina, where nearly all of the 100-plus golf courses open their tee sheets daily to the public.
And while most clubs have at least a small membership, there are a handful of private, members-only clubs where it can be tricky getting a tee time. But even some of them have their own loopholes that can be pursued.
That said, these public tee times go largely unadvertised, but they're there. Here's the inside skinny on how you, Joe Tourist, can get your group onto each during your next Myrtle Beach golf trip.
How to play Myrtle Beach's private golf courses
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club: Despite being the beach's most prestigious course and one of the area's oldest, it's pretty easy to get on the Dunes, so long as you're staying at a resort property that has booking access to the course (which include most of the larger resort companies on the Grand Strand).
In fact, public play through golf packages accounts for about one-third of the prestigious club's rounds each year. Guests will have access to what many consider the finest golf course in Myrtle Beach. It's a classic, Robert Trent Jones Sr. design that not only has Jones' first ever "signature hole," the par-5 13th "Waterloo," but it also has Myrtle Beach's only golf hole with an ocean view: the par-3 ninth.
That said, it has a championship pedigree worthy of hosting the Senior Tour Championship and is also traditionally the final round of the World Amateur Handicap Championship.
But this new, private course designed by Nick Price and Craig Schreiner is set in the back of the sprawling Grande Dunes resort and real estate development, so far back, in fact, the course still has practically no houses lining the course.
To play the Members Club, you must be a guest of the new Marina Inn at Grande Dunes. This new, Mediterranean-themed luxury resort offers exclusive golf packages that let you play both the Members Club and the Resort Course, plus the newly reopened Pine Lakes Country Club a few minutes away, making for one of the most unique upscale golf packages on the beach.
The Surf Golf & Beach Club: The Surf is located on 200 acres just off the beach in North Myrtle Beach on the Tilghman Estate. It's a relatively old club, dating back to 1960 and designed by George Cobb.
Among renovations in the 1990s, the course was lengthened and improved, while greens were installed with bentgrass. The Surf Golf & Beach Club does not have any arrangements with local hotels or packagers, so you'll need to call the club direct and ask for a tee time, which can usually be booked so long as there aren't any club events ongoing.
That said, guests must play before 9:30 a.m. or after 1:30 p.m. Green fees are $125 peak season, $80 in the summer months.
South Strand private golf clubs that require a bit more savvy
Head south of Myrtle Beach into the South Strand, and you're going to have a harder time landing a tee time on these three private clubs. That said, there's plenty of great golf around the corner (in fact, the better golf courses around here are public).
Wachesaw Plantation Club: Not to be confused with Wachesaw Plantation East next door (which is fully open to the public), Wachesaw Plantation Club is a members-only club that offers play only to reciprocal golf clubs and players sponsored by its members to this Tom Fazio design on the banks of the Waccamaw River.
If you can't get on Wachesaw Plantation, get pampered at Tom Fazio's other South Strand gem, where everyone's treated like a tour pro: TPC of Myrtle Beach - or enjoy beautiful scenery along the Waccamaw River further south at The Heritage Club.
Debordieu Colony Golf Club: You'll need to tee it up with a member ($75) or be sponsored by a member ($125) to play Debordieu (pronounced by the locals as Debbie-Doo), a links jewel located on the southern end of the Grand Strand in historic Georgetown.
The marshy course just off the ocean is a Pete and P.B. Dye collaboration that is the centerpiece of a large, upscale community. If you can't score a tee time here, head to Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club instead, as it's home to some of the area's best marsh holes, especially on the back nine.
The Reserve Club: The Reserve Club is a Greg Norman design that's fully private, offering play only to reciprocal clubs and sponsored guests. That said, it's right around the corner from some fantastic golf clubs that are semi-private and still offer an upscale, Lowcountry vibe and great conditions, like Willbrook Plantation Golf Club and the Tradition Golf Club.