Title: The History of Golf in Myrtle Beach: Sinking Putts in The Grand Strand
Myrtle Beach, a gem along South Carolina’s sixty-mile long Grand Strand, is a celebrated destination for golf enthusiasts worldwide. Dubbed the ‘Golf Capital of the World’, this beach has firmly cemented its place as a premier golfing mecca over the years. However, the illustrious history of golf in Myrtle Beach is as rich and intriguing as the game itself.
Golf’s origins in Myrtle Beach can be traced back to the Roaring Twenties. The seed was sown in 1927 with the establishment of Pine Lakes Country Club, the town’s first-ever golf club. Known for its Scottish theme and famous for developing the rules for Sports Illustrated in the club’s back room, Pine Lakes quickly became both a social hub and a haven for golfers.
As the 1930s rolled in, the renowned golf architect, Robert White, designed the Ocean Forest Hotel’s championship course – the first to grace Myrtle Beach’s sandy shores. While Ocean Forest is no longer with us today, it was dubbed the ‘finest golf course ever seen’ by sports writers of the era and stood as a jewel in Myrtle Beach’s crown for over three decades.
The real inception of Myrtle Beach as a golfing destination began post World War II. In 1948, The Dunes Golf & Beach Club came to life under the shrewd hand of Robert Trent Jones, one of the greatest golf architects of all time. The course instantly gained attention for its beauty, challenge, and the unforgettable 13th hole – The Waterloo.
The golf landscape of Myrtle Beach rapidly developed in the proceeding decades, with new courses sprouting across the sandy shore. Names like Myrtlewood, Surf Club, Litchfield Country Club, and many more began to call Myrtle Beach home, each one contributing to the majestic golf tapestry that started weaving itself along the Grand Strand.
In the 1970s, golf gained substantial visibility through televised PGA tournaments, attracting attention towards golf destinations. The Myrtle Beach area was no exception, as the traditionally “locals-only” clubs began to court vacationing golfers. Consequently, the 70s and the 80s became a defining era for Myrtle Beach. Golf courses grew from fewer than 20 in 1970 to more than 120 by the 1990s.
The opening of the Holiday Inn’s highly popular Colony Club in 1972 – South Carolina’s first golf-encompassed resort – set the stage for Myrtle Beach’s future. Offering three distinctive courses and golf packages that attracted visitors from across the eastern seaboard, Myrtle Beach began to rise as an affordable vacation destination for golf lovers.
The growth of golf in Myrtle Beach was accompanied by an evolution in golf course design. Early courses like Pine Lakes boasted fairly simple designs, but as time progressed, architects began producing more visually stunning and strategically challenging layouts. This evolution was clearly evident in the late 80s and early 90s as courses like Tidewater, True Blue, and Caledonia popped up, celebrating a considered merger of beauty, creativity, and playability.
At the same time, some of the biggest sporting events were held in Myrtle Beach. The Senior PGA Tour Championship was contested on the Dye Course at Barefoot Resort from 2000-2002, and the city has been the long-time home of the Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship, an event that annually attracts more than 3,000 golfers from across the globe.
As we stand today, the booming golfing industry in Myrtle Beach enriches the local economy while it continues to thrive as a golfing capital. With over 3.2 million rounds of golf played annually across more than 90 golf courses, the city is a pillar in the world of golf. It attracts players from all corners of the world, who come for both the unique assortment of course designs and the mild, year-round weather ideal for golfing.
In conclusion, the story of golf in Myrtle Beach is as layered and diverse as the courses that grace this iconic strip of South Carolina coastline. From Pine Lakes to today’s broad selection of captivating courses, each chapter of golf’s evolution in Myrtle Beach has contributed to making it a global golf phenomenon. Truly, as the golfing industry continues to thrive in this beautiful city, the history of golf in Myrtle Beach becomes a rich landscape that will continue to grow and enrich South Carolina’s Grand Strand.