With literally hundreds of courses blanketing its landscape, South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach is a mecca for golfers. The Dunes, one of the region’s grande dames, was established in 1948. The Robert Trent Jones–designed course continues to rank well in top sports publications, including Golf and Golf Digest. The course has hosted two USGA national championships and six Senior Tour championships.
In 2003, the Dunes reopened after an extensive greens restoration, which included all A-1 bentgrass greens. The renovation, under the direction of Rees Jones, also included minor changes to greens 1, 8, 13, 16 and 18 designed to restore them to their original layouts, highlighted by the speed of play on the new A-1 bentgrass greens.
The greens were like lightning the day we played. One of my colleagues wondered aloud, “Did they shave these greens with a razor?” However, we were a little disappointed with the condition of the rough. It seemed brown, dry and sparse in some areas and, frankly, not what we had expected at a course of this caliber. Still, the traditional design and the number of trees and water hazards made for an interesting and challenging round. This is a course that is certainly well worth playing.
Hole 2 (385 yards, par 4)
Not to be confused with the Ken Follett spy novel Eye of the Needle, this hole is still loaded with drama. From the tee box, you must hit over the corner to have a clear shot onto the green. Long-ball hitters may easily catch the right-side fairway bunker — just 224 yards from the blue tee box — so must aim far to the left to avoid this hazard. From your approach shot, avoid the deep bunkers arranged right and left and slightly forward of the green. Two small ponds on either side will almost “mysteriously” (following our Follett theme) catch your errant second shots.
Hole 4 (465 yards, par 5)
This hole can wreak havoc with your game, as errant tee shots may hit the fairway bunkers on the left or cross into the wooded area on the right. A perfect shot over the fairway bunkers will give you an opportunity to reach the green in two, but beware “Tin Cup” — there is water guarding this green and four bunkers waiting to sabotage your approach. The green slopes back to front, and balls above the hole will need just a slight tap to make it in.
Hole 5 (180 yards, par 3)
This is a long par 4 that requires a low iron because of prevailing winds. The day my foursome played, the wind was howling in our faces. I wrongly (20-20 hindsight) decided to issue a challenge — me against their best ball (we were playing “Wolf”). A huge bunker guards the left side, and a smaller is positioned to the right and forward of the green. The green itself is elevated, so shots need to land and stick. Pin placement was in the most difficult position, back and left, on the day we played, which made putting a near disaster.
Hole 7 (380 yards, par 4)
The yardage book calls this hole “deceivingly difficult.” A large fairway bunker is positioned about 224 yards from the tee on the left side. On your approach, be aware that a large bunker protects the front and makes reaching center pin placements a challenge. Additionally, the green is only 20 yards deep and accepts only soft shots; all others will fly off the back, making your return and par difficult.
Hole 10 (340 yards, par 4)
This hole can cause you to loose your composure. Leave the driver in the bag and play it safe; the second pond (the first is right in front of the tee box) can be reached, as it is only 268 yard from the blues. The fairway also tends to run downhill to the water. Once you land safely at about 120 yards from the green, be forewarned that the bunker is elevated and protected by four bunkers: three in the front and one in the back. The green also has a domed shape to offer a little more “fun” when landing and putting.
Hole 13 (545 yards, par 5)
If the number 15 is a harbinger of bad luck, superstitious golfers should avoid Waterloo. This is the Dunes’ signature hole. It requires a perfectly centered tee shot to the landing area of this dogleg right around Lake Singleton, and then a near-perfect shot to cut the corner over the water. Even “safe shots” will need to carry the water a little. True golfers will try to cut across as much as possible for a close chip to the green. The green has a huge tier that runs from the left to front side and to the back. Putting from the opposite side of this green is nearly impossible.
Hole 14 (410 yards, par 4)
This hole is said to be the back nine’s most difficult hole on which to make par. From your tee shot it is vital to avoid the bunkers on the left side and to not blow your shot through the fairway on the right. On the approach, you’ll find four bunkers guarding the elevated green on the left and the right. Any errant shots will land in these bunkers, and shots easily run off the back of this shallow green.
Hole 15 (500 yards, par 5)
I did not see any gators on this hole, but it can eat you up like one, as your tee shot must land between two lakes on opposite sides of the fairway. Monster hitters can reach a set of four fairway bunkers, which lie between 213 and 278 yards, beyond the lake on the right. To make the hole a little more interesting, another fairway bunker has been placed 100 yards from the green on the left side, and the hole is protected by a gigantic bunker on the right side of the green and slightly forward. The green slopes downward either side, making putting a challenge.
THE DUNES GOLF AND BEACH CLUB
9000 N. Ocean Blvd.
Myrtle Beach, SC 29572
tel 843 449 5914
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