Before Myrtle Beach was known as the “Golf Capital of the World,” and before there were more than 100 golf courses on the Grand Strand, there was Pine Lakes International Country Club, the first golf course – and still one of the best – in the Myrtle Beach area.
Affectionately nicknamed “The Granddaddy” for its role as the course that started it all for Myrtle Beach as a premiere golf destination, Pine Lakes opened in 1927 as part of the old Ocean Forest Hotel property. The Ocean Forest, which was located just a couple of blocks south of Island Vista, has long since been torn down, but the golf course remains and contains a great deal of the area’s history.
Pine Lakes was designed by Scottish architect Robert White, who brought a European-style links course to the Strand. In keeping with the famed layouts of his native St. Andrews, White brought the Highlands to the Lowcountry to create a unique design. The course underwent a major, $15 million makeover and modernization project in 2006 but the updates did not alter the original craftsmanship.
The clubhouse was renovated to reflect the history of the course and to serve as a bit of a tribute to Myrtle Beach golf. Pine Lakes was the birthplace of Sports Illustrated when Time magazine executives visited in 1954, and it is the course that first put Myrtle Beach on the golf map. The updated facilities and improved grounds have made the course more playable without softening the challenge.
Then scenery is classic South Carolina Lowcountry and literally postcard perfect. Add in a serious dose of Southern charm and hospitality, including a cup of seafood chowder and mimosas served on the course during your round, and Pine Lakes is a must-play for golfers looking for an excellent test of skill and a history lesson all in one.
Located just across Kings Highway from the Island Vista property, Pine Lakes attracts golfers from around the country to its greens, including legendary names like Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen. Despite the addition of dozens of new, modern courses along the Grand Strand, picky players continue to turn to Pine Lakes to get a taste of the good old days of golf.
The renovations involved the removal of two holes to allow a new access road, Grandddaddy Drive, to connect the club to Robert Grissom Parkway, although the old exit off Woodside Drive is also still in use. Workers were able to preserve 16 of the original holes and add two new ones that are in keeping with the course’s character. New landscaping was added to the border of the front nine and new bunkers were built, but much of the course will look familiar to long time players.
The new 18-hole layout measures just 6,675 yards at its longest points, but like many older courses, the test is in the finesse, not brute strength. There are only 27 natural bunkers, but some are like grave sites in terms of depth and degree of difficulty.
The open fairways are lined by rows of towering pines and twisting live oaks, adding to the beauty and challenge of the course. The signature hole is the par-3 11th, 155 yards over water to a small green. The toughest hole is No. 3, a 463-yard, par-4 brute that plays into a green guarded by water.
While dozens of new course have sprung up around the Granddaddy over the years, Pine Lakes remains a great place to play while experiencing a piece of golf history, right here in Myrtle Beach.
(Photo courtesy: PineLakes.com)