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Pawleys Island near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina boasts some of America's best public courses

By S. Adam Cardais,
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True Blue Plantation golf course
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True Blue Plantation in Pawleys Island is No. 87 on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses. (Tim McDonald/WorldGolf.com)

Located 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach, Pawleys Island, S.C., is the Grand Strand's answer to Hilton Head Island, another coastal Carolina golf nucleus where quality rules.

Pawleys Island is home to about 10 golf courses, and three made Golf Digest's 2008 list of America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses: The Heritage Club, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club and True Blue Plantation. All are excellent Carolina golf courses worthy of any duffer's "dream play" list, but getting on these fairways doesn't have to be a fantasy, as these babies are public.

Here's a bit more about the best and the brightest golf courses in Pawleys Island.

The Heritage Club:

At No. 46 on Golf Digest's list, The Heritage Club is the highest-ranked Pawleys Island golf course. The par-71, 7,040-yard course is the focal point of Heritage Plantation and truly a sight to behold.

A magnificent avenue of oaks leads you into the club, where a 12,000-square-foot Southern colonial clubhouse overlooks the Waccamaw River. On the golf course, centuries-old trees, blossoming flowers and rice fields endow each hole with a different and intriguing look.

Caledonia Golf and Fish Club:

Designed by Mike Strantz, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club was ranked the fifth Best New Public Course in America by Golf Digest when it opened in 1995. Today, the magazine has it at No. 86 on its list of the nation's 100 best public tracks. The ranking is well deserved, according to golf writer Tim McDonald.

"Of all the 'plantation golf' in the Carolinas, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club may be the finest, at least among those clubs the nonaristocrats can get into," McDonald wrote in a review for MyrtleBeachGolf.com.

The course is routed through some of the most stunning terrain in the Carolina low country, and its beautiful landscaping and interesting mix of holes make Caledonia more than a pleasure to play. Caledonia has some of the most interesting par 3s in the area, forcing you to use anything from a pitching wedge to a 3-wood.

The closing hole is particularly good, a par 4 where you'll be hitting your approach over a lake. The clubhouse sits behind the hole, so watch out for the audiences that form there to cheer and jeer.

True Blue Plantation:

Right behind Caledonia Golf and Fish Club in Golf Digest's rankings, True Blue Plantation is another excellent Mike Strantz design. And, like Caledonia, you'll be amazed by the sheer beauty of True Blue, which made No. 7 on McDonald's list of the 10 best Myrtle Beach golf courses at TravelGolf.com.

But don't spend too much time ogling the landscape. True Blue is one of the more challenging tracks on the Grand Strand, and that's after a redesign by Strantz to make it more accessible to those of us who aren't making our living on the PGA Tour. Every hole requires thought and either power or precision, and sometimes a combination of both. This is one Myrtle Beach golf course that demands your full attention.

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