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In Myrtle Beach to play golf? Head south to Pawleys Island

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club
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Mature oaks line the drive up to Caledonia Golf & Fish Club clubhouse. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)

WorldGolf.com reader Elliot DeBear shares his thoughts on a recent Myrtle Beach golf vacation that included tee times at Pawleys Plantation, Heritage Plantation, True Blue, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and the TPC of Myrtle Beach.

Four of us left New York on Wednesday evening. With wind delays, we hit Myrtle Beach, S.C., about 10:30 a.m. and headed south to Pawleys Island.

Cliff at the reception desk was nice enough to stick around to make sure we could get checked in OK. We planned on playing five different golf courses and scheduled tee times so we could get in 36 - and stop for lunch - before nightfall. We also picked venues that included marshland, parkland and plantation courses so we could have different experiences on every track. We decided to play sixes on every round, paying $5 seven ways with automatic press bets two down. Everyone got to partner with everyone else multiple times and kept the matches even over the course of the trip.

Pawleys Plantation

We got up early Thursday and played Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus-designed track in the marshland. Pawleys is fairly narrow and plays 6,522 yards from the blues with a 72.5/132 slope. It was cold and damp with heavy winds, and we found ourselves with two and three club differences throughout. Very challenging.

The fairways were not in the best of shape, however, they were OK for the middle of winter. The greens were terrific, however, and played true. I wasn't wild about the front nine because of the bordering condos everywhere. However, the backside is absolutely stunning with views over the marsh lands and elevated tees to semi island greens. All in all, a good course to start on.

Heritage Plantation

In the afternoon, we played Heritage Plantation, a beautifully designed course by Dan Maples and Larry Young, two of the best. The blues measured 6,656, but with the wind, it played a definite 7,000. The course is rated with a 73.3/136 slope. The greens were a little beat up, but the fairways were in terrific shape. There's a really classic clubhouse overlooking the Waccamaw River. Holes 8,12, 13 and 14, with water in play, by themselves, were worth the cost of the round.

Dinner that night was at Frank's on 17. It's a great restaurant, with a good wine list and terrific service. Perfect way to end the day.

True Blue and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club

The next day, we scheduled the morning round at True Blue Plantation and the afternoon at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club. But we awakened to pouring rain. I was so depressed I wanted to cry, because these were my two must-play golf courses on the trip.

We went to True Blue for breakfast. Luckily, the rain lightened up, so we played. We got caught in the rain and wind on about four holes, and then the sun sort of broke through. True Blue is a Mike Strantz masterpiece. Blues played 6,812 yards with a 72.8/141 slope rating. It's easy to understand why this course has won so many awards and accolades. A fantastic track and the most challenging of the trip.

The conditions were terrific. The course was difficult to the max with the weather this day but as good as you're going to find in Myrtle or anywhere. It was beautiful from every direction with no homes in sight. There were great par 3s with incredibly dramatic par 5s, especially the ninth and 10th back to back. There's also a great clubhouse. This is a must play for anyone even thinking about putting together a Myrtle Beach golf trip.

The afternoon's weather turned bright and sunny as we headed to True Blue's sister course, another Strantz stunner, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club. It's visually magnificent in every way with no condos to ruin the vistas. There are fantastic conditions on the greens and fairways. From the Blues, it measures only 6,121 yards with a 69.9/134 slope, but don't let this fool you into thinking it's a cakewalk. It's not. It's one of the most visually beautiful courses I ever played. If Mike Strantz is up in architect's heaven reading this, thank you with all my heart, Mike.

Dinner that night at Bistro 321 featured good food and fun.

TPC of Myrtle Beach

We woke up on Saturday to a chilly but sunny day and headed out to our last course before hitting the airport for home. TPC of Myrtle Beach is fantastic. There's a great clubhouse with service so professional and friendly. We got hit with a frost delay to 9 a.m., so we knew we would have to play hit and run to make the plane.

This is a Tom Fazio-designed woodlands course that is so visually beautiful it's hard to describe. There are very few homes on the course, but they are quite dramatic and do not intrude. Conditions were perfect, especially the new greens that provided subtle breaks that are hard to see.

The par-5 No. 2 with two lakes in play is a winner followed by a 447-yard, par-4 third hole, requiring a forced carry over wetlands, that is terrific. While more forgiving than Heritage, True Blue or Caledonia, it is a course that you will not forget. Especially the closing hole with the clubhouse in the background, a pretty stream meandering up the right side and the lake looming on the left. What a great way to finish.

- Elliot DeBear
by e-mail

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Pawleys Plantation Golf CourseTrue Blue Golf CourseTPC Myrtle Beach

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Best course to play?

    Anthony wrote on: May 26, 2011

    Thanks for the detailed review!
    I saw Caledonia and True Blue were ranked the top 2 best golf courses in Myrtle Beach, but would you agree with that ranking or pick one of the others as the top 1 or 2?


  • Golf in Myrtle Beach

    TK wrote on: Jan 20, 2009

    Thanks for the great review Elliot.
    My buddies and I are playing Myrtle this June. We are all single digit hdcps and love a challenge. We are looking @ the Legends Resorts (3 courses) and from your assessment, we will look into Mike Stranz's Caledonia + True Blue as well. Should we include TPC or is there a better choice?
    Will post when I get back.
    Thanks again,


      • RE: Golf in Myrtle Beach

        Elliot wrote on: Jan 21, 2009

        Legends is a terrific play and stay venue. My favorite there and the most difficult IMO is the Parkland course from the tips. A long, traditional woodland track designed and built by the Legends Group (the design director at the time was Mike Stanz of Caledonia fame). If possible, you definitely should get TPC in. It is one of the best Myrtle has to offer and the only Golf Digest 5 star in town. Also, you might consider Arnie's King's North about a 10 minute drive from Legends.
        Have a great trip.