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Pure golf in Myrtle Beach: Play 'natural' Grand Strand tracks

By S. Adam Cardais,
Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links
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At Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links, you'll have a day cavorting with nature while golfing. (Tim McDonald/WorldGolf.com)

You're on the 18th green lining up what is to be the culmination of the most spectacular round of golf of your life. You're focused, nerves steady - nothing can distract you.

Then you hear the sounds of screaming children. The family that owns the house on the 18th green is throwing a birthday pool party. Suddenly, it's a lot harder to concentrate.

Sometimes, you just want it to be you and the golf course - golfer versus nature, pure and simple. Unfortunately, most courses are dotted with homes and condos, filling a round of golf with all the annoyances and distractions of neighborhood living. It can be infuriating. After all, the golf course is supposed to be your sanctuary.

That's why playing those rare golf courses free of real estate on their fairways and greens can be such a pleasure. In Myrtle Beach, a town with more than 100 tracks, around 20 such golf courses fit this description.

Here are some of the best:

Caledonia Golf and Fish Club: Designed by Mike Strantz, this 6,526-yard track "merges plantation history with some of the finest golf available on the Grand Strand," TravelGolf.com National Golf Editor Tim McDonald wrote when ranking the 10 best golf courses in Myrtle Beach.

The club was built on the site of a working southern rice plantation. It has an antebellum clubhouse and 150-year-old oak trees.

As for the golf course, it was named "Top 100 America's Greatest Public Courses" by Golf Digest for 2005-2006. The magazine also ranked it the No. 5 "Best New Public Course in America" when it opened in 1995. Needless to say, it's worth a play.

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. It won awards from Myrtle Beach Golf Magazine in 2003 and 2004 and has even been recognized in Sports Illustrated. Designed by Clyde Johnston, Glen Dornoch is known for transfixing views of the surrounding marshes and excellent conditioning. It's also challenging without being overbearing.

"Johnston gives you an excellent test without beating you over the head with a mashie," McDonald wrote in a review for MyrtleBeachGolf.com. "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."

King's North at Myrtle Beach National: This track is known as being one of the best conditioned on the Grand Strand. It has received considerable recognition over the years, including a spot in Golf for Women magazine's top 100 courses for women in America.

Though it's a manageable track from the forward tees for a range of players, it's going to cost you around 7,000 yards to play from the back tees. The experience playing here with worth the muscle strain you'll likely get along the way. The course has some truly memorable holes. Its par-3 third is one of the most recognized on the Grand Strand.

The Legends Heathland Course: Tom Doak designed this course, one of three 18-hole tracks at the Legends, in the image of a British links course. Many of the holes are reminiscent of St. Andrews.

The course is 6,785 yards and has a slope rating of 127 from the back tees. There are very few trees on Heathland, so it tests you with strategically placed bunkers and deep rough.

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