Myrtle Beach-area standout True Blue Golf Plantation in Pawleys Island, South Carolina lives up to the hype

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. -- Without hesitation, the question changed for Myrtle Beach resident Ryan Young. It wasn't whether he would have liked to make True Blue Golf Plantation a regular part of his rotation. Instead, it was how soon he could return. The first-time True Blue player discovered what so many others have.

The golf course is recognized as one of the best, not only on the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand but in all of South Carolina. And even during a recent December round, Young said the track lived up to the hype.

"This would be a course I would want to show off to visitors to give them one of the finer perspectives on all we have to offer golf-wise -- just how much water there was and how it was designed around the holes and the overall upkeep and quality," Young said. "The most frustrating thing for me as a golfer is a course that hasn't been cared for. This course has definitely been cared for."

Along with its sister course, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, True Blue stands out as a must-play for golfers of all skill levels. It isn't simply about the design or the turf quality, though.

True Blue is one of the few Myrtle Beach golf courses that not only has a horticulturist on staff but publicizes it on the score card. The extra touch doesn't go unnoticed, as it accentuates everything else True Blue has to offer.

"From an aesthetic point of view, it was as beautiful of a course as I've played down here," Young said. "The water was pristine. For being this time of year, the course was very well maintained. It was in great condition compared to the courses I've played in the last two months. There's no questions it's at the higher end of Myrtle Beach golf."

True Blue Golf Plantation: The course

The late Mike Strantz was lauded by national publications as the "Architect of the Year" after his True Blue design opened in 1998. It's not hard to figure out why.

He bent his par-72 course wonderfully around existing water and sand and through the former indigo and rice plantation. Throw in the century-old trees lining the roughs (not to mention the drive onto the property), and True Blue is Lowcountry golf at its best.

The golf course plays anywhere from 7,126 yards from the championship tees all the way down to 4,995 from the ladies' tees. The standard whites play at 6,375.

Navigating the tee boxes, though, is only part one of the journey. The course routinely allows players plenty of leeway off the tee, only to test their other clubs on the second and third shots into the greens. Holes 1, 4, 8, 9, 10 and 12 include blind shots out of the gate that dogleg around water or waste bunkers -- allowing for the track to be laid upon relatively tight acreage.

But there's also a scoring quirk that inadvertently helps the front-nine to back-nine progression. The par-37 front includes three par 5s measuring up to 624, 548 and 548 yards, respectively. The back nine counters with a trio of par 3s.

Regardless, each hole will bring a modicum of skill or what you'd expect from a course with this type of reputation.

True Blue Golf Plantation: Facilities and instruction

Most of True Blue's 18-acre practice facility sits directly adjacent to the clubhouse and bag drop, giving players an easy way to warm up prior to the round.

Multiple teaching pros are on site, with several options available for beginner and experienced players.

Inside the clubhouse with the famed blue-tin roof is the loaded pro shop -- where everything up to club fitting is available -- and a full-service bar and grill with indoor and outdoor seating. The latter overlooks the 18th green and the final accompanying stretch of water from the round.

Ian Guerin is a freelance writer and DJ living in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He's decent with the driver and putter; it's everything else in the bag that gives him trouble. Follow Ian on Twitter at @iguerin.

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A smorgasbord of golf courses lines the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand. Despite some attrition during the recession, more than 85 courses stretch from Pawleys Island, S.C., to the southern reaches of North Carolina. I haven't played them all -- has anyone? -- but I certainly have my favorites. Here are five of them: Barefort Resort & Golf, True Blue, Dunes Golf and Beach Club, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation.
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Myrtle Beach-area standout True Blue Golf Plantation in Pawleys Island, South Carolina lives up to the hype