MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - The place that calls itself "Golftown, U.S.A." is starting to get its mojo back.
Recently, the Charleston Post & Courier reported that Myrtle Beach is in talks with the PGA Tour to bring elite professional golf to the area for the first time.
Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce CEO Karen Riordan confirmed the two sides are working towards an agreement to bring the tour to town for at least a four-year stint, with the first event, tentatively called the Myrtle Beach Classic, to play out in May of 2024.
No host venue has been named as yet, but the leading candidate would seem to be the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, the Robert Trent Jones, Sr. design that has anchored the area golf scene since it opened in 1948. Recent renovations overseen by Jones' son Rees have updated bunkering and stretched the course out to more than 7,400 yards. It was a stout test when it co-hosted the PGA Professional Championship in 2014; Michael Block's winning score of 2-under par that year was the highest since 2005. In addition, The Dunes has hosted PGA Tour Q-school finals (1973), the Senior Tour Championship (1994-1999) and three U.S.G.A. championships: the U.S. Women's Open (1962), the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur (1977) and the U.S. Women's Four-Ball (2017).
Other area courses with the potential to host the infrastructure and crowds a PGA Tour stop would bring would be the Dye Club at Barefoot Resort (perennial host of the Monday After the Masters pro-am) and TPC Myrtle Beach (which hosted the 2000 Senior Tour Championship soon after it opened). But The Dunes would be the strongest choice.
The addition of a PGA Tour event - especially one that becomes a pillar of next year's revamped schedule - would figure to bump Myrtle Beach up from #11 on our list of the world's top 100 golf destinations.
Other Myrtle Beach golf updates for 2023
Nearly four and a half years after original architect Jack Nicklaus returned to the course to offer suggestions for its improvement, Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club in Pawleys Island, S.C., will embark upon a four-month renovation project this summer, as the course turns 35 years old. Nicklaus associate Troy Vincent will lead the project with the primary goal to bring a bit more playability to a layout that has long been regarded as one of the most demanding in resort golf.
In addition to restoring the course's greens to their original sizes after decades of shrinkage, Vincent will reduce some of the bunkering, including several large, tough-to-maintain expanses of sand that primarily ensnare - and enrage - high handicappers. The remaining bunkers will be rebuilt with the state-of-the-art Capillary Concrete drainage system, which prevents washouts after big rain events. Vincent will also oversee some significant tree removal, which will help the course breathe and make maintenance a bit easier.
"Pawleys Plantation has been a fixture in the Myrtle Beach area since its opening in 1988," said Vincent. "When completed, you can expect larger greens, less bunkering and more native areas that will be playable."
Other updates at Pawleys Plantation include clubhouse renovations, including new outdoor dining areas overlooking the 18th green.
Pawleys Plantation is one of 21 Myrtle Beach-area courses owned and operated by Founders Group International (FGI). Grande Dunes Resort Club, another FGI property, received a similar renovation last year, as well as its own clubhouse upgrades. And Pine Lakes Country Club, the area's oldest course (originally opened in 1927), is maturing in the wake of its own renovation in 2021.
Some other area properties are tentatively scheduled for updates this year, with a focus on clubhouse renovations at River Club and Willbrook Plantation Golf Club in Pawleys Island, as well as some bunker work at the Arthur Hills-designed PineHills Course at Myrtlewood Golf Club and Long Bay Club, the area's other Jack Nicklaus Signature course.
In golf-adjacent Myrtle Beach news, Tiger Woods will bring his putting-centric "golfertainment" concept PopStroke to town soon. Per longtime Myrtle Beach golf beat journalist Alan Blondin for On The Green Magazine, the new location will be situated at the area's Broadway at the Beach shopping, dining and entertainment complex and will open sometime in 2023, not far from Myrtle Beach's Topgolf location.
It’s going to take a long time for MB to get its golf swagger back golf here since the pandemic has become less than enjoyable during the height of the season except 6 hour rounds players with no knowledge of the rule or golf etiquette and the courses seem to be fine with it don’t upset the tourists I moved here to enjoy the game and am now regretting I didn’t move to Arizona