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The best Myrtle Beach golf courses shine in autumn

By S. Adam Cardais,
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club
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The Dunes Golf and Beach Club is one of Myrtle Beach's most sought-after plays year-round. (Courtesy The Dunes)

In contrast (thankfully) to spring-break season, golf season in Myrtle Beach never really ends. But you can never go wrong getting in a few rounds at your favorite Grand Strand courses before winter sets in.

The southeastern winter climate is hit-and-miss - temperatures might be anywhere from the 40s to the 60s - in the autumn the weather is dependably mild. These are the months when northeasterners, Canadians and even many Europeans flock to the Strand to test their games at its 100-plus courses without having to dodge beach bums and dripping 90-degree days.

"The passing of Labor Day weekend ... signifies the end of the beach season and the beginning of the peak fall golf season," TravelGolf.com's Shane Sharp wrote in a 2003 article.

"In smoke-filled sports bars from Boston to Cleveland and neighborhood pubs across Quebec and Ontario, plans are being firmed, confirmed and reconfirmed. In just a matter of weeks, planes will be boarded, mini-vans loaded and hordes of khaki-clad, collared-shirt clones will descend upon [Myrtle Beach] courses."

Whether you're looking for something traditional like The Dunes Golf and Beach Club or something more low-key, Myrtle Beach has plenty of great tracks at which to take full advantage of this delightful pre-winter interlude.

Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links: This Scottish-themed course is considered one of finest in Myrtle Beach, and that's saying something in a town with more than 100 tracks to choose from. It won awards from Myrtle Beach Golf Magazine in 2003 and 2004 and has even been recognized in Sports Illustrated.

The Clyde Johnston design is known for its transfixing views of the surrounding marshes and excellent conditioning. It's challenging without being overbearing.

"Johnston gives you an excellent test without beating you over the head with a mashie," Tim McDonald wrote in a recent course review. "The holes throw different looks and angles at you, with virtually no repetition. There are plenty of risk/reward, pond and marsh carries and doglegs to be cut down to size."

Barefoot Resort, Love Course Davis Love III had his work cut out for him when laying out this 7,000-yard track, competing with Barefoot Resort designs by Pete Dye, Tom Fazio and Greg Norman.

Love's entry is generally rated Barefoot's best. He did get a head start in the form of a beautiful piece of property that snakes through an old plantation. Ranked 38th in Golf Digest's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses 2005-2006, the Love Course's wide fairways and spacious landing areas make it a pleasure to play.

The Dunes Golf and Beach Club: In the beautiful southeastern autumn months you'd be a fool not to take a crack at The Dunes. Opened in 1948, this is one of the Grand Strand's most revered tracks.

This Robert Trent Jones Sr. design is consistently rated one of America's Top 100 courses. The Dunes has hosted the Senior Tour Championships and the Women's U.S. Open. The Dunes' rolling terrain, filled with live oaks, is breathtaking, and the bunkering is sure to pose a challenge.

Wicked Stick: Many of these recommended courses can be seriously intimidating. Give yourself a bit of a break with Wicked Stick. Designed by Clyde Johnston but carrying John Daly's name, this course has plenty of room for hitting away. The fairways are wide open, without trees or other obstacles to stand in your way, and the slope rating from the white tees is 117.

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