The enduring strength of the Myrtle Beach golf market is reflected in this year’s voting of the top courses in the state available for public play by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel.
The Grand Strand features 13 of the 32 courses in the biennial ranking, led by Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, which topped the voting in the area.
Joining Caledonia on the list are Barefoot Resort’s Fazio, Love and Dye courses, The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, TPC Myrtle Beach, the Grande Dunes Resort Course, Pawleys Plantation, Heritage Club, Pine Lakes Country Club, Prestwick Country Club, Tidewater Golf Club and True Blue Golf Club.
Criteria used in the judging by the approximately 120 panel members – consisting of avid players and members of the media and golf business throughout the state – include routing, variety, strategy, equity, memorability, aesthetics and experience.
The panel chooses the top courses in the golf-rich Palmetto State – public and private included – and top public courses in alternating years.
Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island was voted the top public course in the state, edging out The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which has held the title for the past several years.
Both are highly decorated courses, Harbour Town hosting the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage for 51 years and the Ocean Course hosting several significant championships including the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
Harbour Town has recently undergone multi-million-dollar renovations that improved the course and clubhouse and pushed it to the top of the list.
The ratings panel also named the venerable Aiken Golf Club the state’s “Best Kept Secret.” The course is less than 5,800 yards, is more than 100 years old and is a family-owned facility.
“We don’t have a parking lot, a practice range or a maintenance facility,” owner Jim McNair Jr. said, “but we do have a really good golf course.”
Award winners were recognized at the panel’s annual spring awards dinner, which was held this year at Barefoot Resort.
BMW makes changes
Thornblade Club and The Cliffs Valley courses in the Greenville area are returning as host courses of the Web.com Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, which is being played June 3-9, and the celebrity-involved tournament has a new format.
The tournament has had a three-course rotation in recent years. Starting this year, it will feature an amateur and celebrity cut at the conclusion of 36 holes after all contestants complete 18 holes on both courses.
Following the cut, the remaining amateur and celebrity teams, as well as professionals who make the cut in the tournament proper, will play the third round on Thornblade. The final round at Thornblade will solely feature professionals after the field is cut to the low 65 and ties.
To accommodate the two-course format, the professional and amateur fields will be reduced from 168 players to 160 players.
The event has its courses tied up, as Thornblade Club and The Cliffs Communities have agreed to five-year extensions to host the event through 2023.
Since 2001, the tournament and has donated over $13 million to numerous charities across the Upstate.