Myrtle Beach, affectionately known as the “Golf Capital of the World,” paints a picture of lush greens, expansive fairways, and the deep blue sky embraced by the balmy Atlantic breeze. This city, cradled in South Carolina’s Grand Strand, is an illustrious sanctuary for golf connoisseurs and enthusiasts.
A Beginning in the 1920s
The cradle of Myrtle Beach’s golfing legacy is the Pine Lakes Country Club, also known as the “Granddaddy.” This first-ever golf course was designed in 1927 by Robert White, the first president of the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) America and a co-founder of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.
White’s mastery breathed life into the landscape, making it the frontrunner of an evolving golfing culture. His distinct use of natural contours with careful regard for the environment sets the precedent for the future courses of Myrtle Beach.
1950s to 1960s: Growth and Expansion
The golfing scene began to burgeon post World War II, leading to the establishment of several courses in the 1950s. The highlight of this era was the beach’s second oldest golf course, the Dunes Golf & Beach Club. Its inauguration in 1948, with a design by the renowned architect Robert Trent Jones, indeed signaled a dynamic shift towards extensive golf course construction.
By the 1960s, Myrtle Beach had already distinguished itself with seven noteworthy courses. These included the Surf Golf and Beach Club and the Myrtle Beach National, inspiring an explosive growth in golf architecture in the coming decades.
1970s to 1980s: A Golfing Boom
This era saw an unprecedented explosion of new golf courses. The 70s alone accounted for more than 30 new links, including the iconic Tidewater Golf Club and the Oyster Bay Golf Links. The 80s continued this momentum, adding another whopping 46 courses to Myrtle Beach’s portfolio.
The area’s prevalent golf course construction mirrored the national trend of golf’s mainstream acceptance. It grew from a leisure sport for the elites to a popular pastime for the middle class. Myrtle Beach quickly accommodated this increase in demand, making golf more accessible to the masses.
1990s to Early 2000s: A Pinnacle of Prestige
The 90s saw a slowing down of new golf course development but not a drop in the quality of play. Golf courses like Tiger’s Eye Golf Links and Grande Dunes Resort Club came into existence, heralding a shift towards high-end, luxury golf.
This era distinguished Myrtle Beach as a golfing stronghold, home to several championship-caliber courses. The famed architect Dan Maples vividly remembers it as the pinnacle era, “You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a golf course in Myrtle Beach.”
Present Era: Preservation and Modernization
Owing to the sheer proliferation of golf courses, the emphasis since the turn of the mew millenium has been on preserving and modernizing existing courses rather than building new ones. The golf scene continues to thrive, and Myrtle Beach persistently evolves to stay at the helm of world-class golf destinations.
The current trend of refurbishing older courses to meet the modern standards of playability and environmental responsibility ensures that Myrtle Beach’s storied golfing history continues to flourish and inspire.
From humble beginnings to the bustling golf metropolis of today, Myrtle Beach’s golf history is woven into the fabric of the game itself. It has seen eras of boom, periods of slow growth, and constant evolution ensuring its place in golf history. As the sands shift, one thing is clear: Myrtle Beach, the “Golf Capital of the World,” will always be a beacon for those seeking the purest form of the sport.