Best golf in South Carolina easily found on the Hammock Coast

11 Jul

Best golf in South Carolina easily found on the Hammock Coast

South Carolina’s Hammock Coast is home to more than a dozen courses, a collection of unforgettable public and private layouts, that have made the area one of America’s premier golf destinations, a reputation that continues to grow with each new accolade.

Golfweek, one of the game’s most respected publications, recently released its “Best Courses You Can Play 2023: State-by-state rankings for public-access layouts,” and four of the Palmetto State’s top 13 designs reside along the Hammock Coast. 

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, located in Pawleys Island, was South Carolina’s fourth ranked public course. It was followed by No. 5 True Blue Golf Club, also in Pawleys Island, No. 10 TPC Myrtle Beach, located in Murrells Inlet, and No. 13 Heritage Club, also in Pawleys Island.

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawleys Island came in fourth out of all South Carolina golf courses in Golfweek’s “Best Courses You Can Play in 2023.”

Caledonia’s lofty perch comes as no surprise. Mike Strantz’s first solo design has been regarded as one of the nation’s premier layouts since opening in 1994, complementing visionary design work with a stunning piece of lowcountry property. 

The course delights golfers from their arrival, which features a ½-mile long drive through an alley of oak trees that separate the first and 10th holes, through the unforgettable 18th, a challenge widely regarded as one of the game’s premier finishing holes. 

Golfweek also ranked Caledonia No. 65 on its list of America’s top 100 public access courses, highlighting the property’s national standing.  

A combination of art and architecture, Caledonia is a bucket list course, as is its sister property and fellow Strantz design, True Blue, which offers a contrasting but equally enjoyable experience. While Caledonia was built on just 120 acres of land, True Blue, also in Pawleys Island, is a sprawling layout, greeting players with some of South Carolina’s widest fairways, expansive waste bunkers and large, undulating greens. 

True Blue’s size is at the heart of its appeal as the nature of the challenge can change dramatically with the setup. Beginning with the 624-yard, par 5 first hole, it doesn’t take golfers long to realize why a round at True Blue is special. 

TPC Myrtle Beach, which straddles both sides of the Georgetown and Horry County lines, making it a Hammock Coast course, is a big event venue. A Tom Fazio-Lanny Wadkins layout, TPC has hosted a Senior PGA Tour Championship and it’s the long-time home of the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship. 

A round at TPC will test the best of players and its highlighted by the 18th hole, a risk-reward par 5 that challenges golfers to hit a green flanked by water along the left side.

Heritage Club, a Dan Maples design, is carved amidst soaring live oak trees draped in Spanish moss, delivering a round that is as exhilarating as it is challenging. A shotmaker’s course, Heritage is a delight to play and it features the area’s most creative greens complexes. 

The par 3 13th hole plays a whopping 228 yards from the tips and features a carry over water, but the real challenge begins on a green that is nearly 60 yards long and includes the proverbial elephant buried in the middle. The 13th is the type of hole you tell your buddies about long after returning home.

Pawleys Plantation, a Jack Nicklaus design that plays along a tidal marsh, will be a strong contender to join Caledonia, True Blue and Heritage on the list after the completion of a comprehensive greens, bunkers and clubhouse restoratioin project. 

At the heart of the Hammock Coast’s popularity as a golf destination is the depth and quality of the area’s offerings, attributes that are highlighted by Golfweek’s ranking of South Carolina’s best courses. 

By Chris King for South Carolina’s Hammock Coast

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