Four fabulous golf courses in North Myrtle Beach

By Travel ArticlesMay 3, 2012, 4:00 am

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Most out-of-town golfers have their courses picked out well in advance of their Grand Strand golf trip.

But in lieu of booked tee times or simply wanting to try something new, here are four can't-miss courses on the north end of Myrtle Beach.

They range in price and playability, but no matter what a golfer is looking for, they all offer a challenge while giving you exactly what you're looking for.

Dye Course at Barefoot Resort

The Dye Course at Barefoot Resort, semi-private course in North Myrtle Beach, has gained plenty of notoriety since it was finished in 2000.

On top of the prestige of a Pete Dye design, it is also home to the Hootie and the Blowfish 'Monday After the Masters' celebrity tournament each year. The course is so much more than that annual blowout, though.

It is nothing short of one of the most beautiful golf courses in South Carolina.

For very low handicappers, the par-72 course can play as long as 7,400 yards. But even for those playing the middle tees, a distance of about 6,200 very difficult yards greets the average player.

The course is designed near perfectly around native grasses that can and will come into play. Mixed in between several breeds of Bermuda, the architecture is one most players will find second to none.

Barefoot's Dye Course is not cheap, but mixing it in with several of the middle-tiered courses will certainly be worth it.

Shaftesbury Glen Golf Club

Located just west of Myrtle Beach in northern Conway, Shaftesbury Glen Golf Club has maintained playing conditions well above its reasonable rate.

Patterned off New York's famous Winged Foot Golf Club, Shaftesbury is known for its number of sand traps. The 18 holes include exactly 50 such hazards. If a player isn't prepared, he may find himself buried in any number of the traps that can only be described as 'brutal.'

The course maximizes the effect of the bunkers by utilizing elevated greens. It neutralizes much of the advantage big hitters can achieve via big, open fairways.

The course plays at about 6,400 yards for most, with that total dropping to less than 5,000 from the ladies tees. That combination has made it very popular with couples.

The ownership group has dumped a 'pretty hefty penny,' into the course, said operations director Ryan McCarty, and the conditions themselves do the rest.

Black Bear Golf Club

Much like Shaftesbury, the approach shots at Black Bear Golf Club deserve plenty of attention.

Ultra-fast Champion Bermuda grass makes a players' putting as important as ever. But there are some other facets of the course that stand out, too.

The Tom Jackson design is littered with little differences, from bulky trees in the middle of fairways to a finishing hole that requires golfers to make the lay-up or go-for-it decision based around a large pond separating the fairway from the green.

And while those type of variables typically slow pace to a crawl, Black Bear's location west of the Grand Strand's primary corridor prevents back logs. At any given time, a four-hour round is the norm, and waiting on others in the group ahead of you is nearly unheard of.

The club has also taken advantage of an odd re-seeding and maintenance schedule. Black Bear's superintendent and head pro made the decision to do it earlier than most.

So while they lose some traffic during the busy times of year, the course is routinely in better shape during the off months. It keeps the locals happy, and for the most part, the tourists don't recognize the difference.

Azalea Sands Golf Club

If you've spent big-time money on big-time courses, or you just feel like you need a slightly easier course to iron out some details, it's hard to beat Azalea Sands Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach.

The par-72 Gene Hamm course is as forgiving as you may find. And while not losing golf balls is a big draw of the course, it's unmistakable that some serious dollars have been put into the high-traffic course. The fairways and rough are clean, and constant work to bunkers and greens keeps players in an environment that makes the game enjoyable.

'The golf course has made huge strides,' Head Professional Crain Kenley said. 'It's fair and fun, and it doesn't beat people up. And it's right in the middle of everything.'

Don't let the full parking lot fool you. With a constant mindset of keeping pace of play very fast, the club makes sure waiting around for the next tee shot isn't a problem.
Azalea Sands aims for four-hour rounds, and it's almost always a goal that is met.

Getty Images

Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”

Getty Images

Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

He picked up his clubs three times.

That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

Not that he was concerned, of course.

Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

“It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

“I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

“He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

“I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

Getty Images

Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

“I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

“With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”

Getty Images

Reed's major record now a highlight, not hindrance

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 2:46 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The narrative surrounding Patrick Reed used to be that he could play well in the Ryder Cup but not the majors.

So much for that.

Reed didn’t record a top-10 in his first 15 starts in a major, but he took the next step in his career by tying for second at the 2017 PGA Championship. He followed that up with a breakthrough victory at the Masters, then finished fourth at the U.S. Open after a closing 68.

He’s the only player with three consecutive top-4s in the majors.

What’s the difference now?

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“The biggest thing is I treat them like they’re normal events,” he said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I’ve always gone into majors and put too much pressure on myself, having to go play well, having to do this or that. Now I go in there and try to play golf and keep in the mindset of, Hey, it’s just another day on the golf course. Let’s just go play.

“I’ve been able to stay in that mindset the past three, and I’ve played pretty well in all three of them.”

Reed’s record in the year’s third major has been hit or miss – a pair of top-20s and two missed cuts – but he says he’s a better links player now than when he began his career. It took the native Texan a while to embrace the creativity required here and also to comprehend the absurd distances he can hit the ball with the proper wind, conditions and bounce.

“I’m sort of accepting it,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little more comfortable with doing it. It’s come a little bit easier, especially down the stretch in tournament play.”