The Dunes Golf & Beach Club and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club are ranked among “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” in the February 2015 issue of Golf Digest. A Robert Trent Jones, Sr, design, the Dunes Club is No. 50 in the biennial rankings while Caledonia, the late Mike Strantz’s first solo design, is No. 73. Dunes Club, which opened in 1948, is the Myrtle Beach’s area’s most famed layout. From the outset, the course attracted national attention and it raised the profile of the entire destination along it. Starting with a clubhouse that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, the Dunes Club delivers a special experience.
The classically designed course plays over naturally rolling land and offers stunning visuals throughout. The layout’s most popular stretch is Alligator Alley – holes 11 through 13 – capped by the par 5 13th, a 90-degree dogleg right that plays around Lake Singleton. The course has hosted some of professional golf’s most prominent events, including the U.S. Women’s Open, six Senior PGA Tour Championships, and, most recently, the PGA Professional National Championship.
Caledonia, which plays amidst centuries old live oak trees draped in Spanish moss, is a modern design carved from a piece of land that oozes history and Southern charm. From the moment players enter the property through a half-mile stretch of road lined on both sides by oak trees, the beauty of Caledonia is evident. The course has enjoyed immense popular and critical acclaim. Strantz’s work is equal parts art and architecture as a he seamlessly crafted the layout on little more than 100 acres of property. On a course full of memorable holes, the 18th stands above as one of the best finishing holes in all of golf. The multi-tiered green rests in the shadow of an antebellum style clubhouse and requires a forced carry over water.
Architecturally the hole is splendid, but what makes it special is the atmosphere. There are almost always golfers gathered on the clubhouse deck, enjoying a drink and providing a gallery for the final approach. It’s an idyllic conclusion to a round at one of America’s greatest layouts. Golf Digest’s team of raters evaluated golf courses on seven categories. Below are the criteria the magazine set for each category:
- Shot Values: How well does the course pose risks and rewards and equally test length, accuracy and finesse?
- Resistance to Scoring: How difficult, while still being fair, is the golf course for a scratch player from the back tees?
- Design Variety: How varied are the golf course’s holes in differing lengths, configurations, hazard placements, green shapes and green contours?
- Memorability: How well do the design features (tees, fairways, greens, hazards, vegetation and terrain) provide individuality to each hole, yet a collective continuity to the entire 18?
- Aesthetics: How well do the scenic values of the golf course (including landscaping, vegetation, water features and backdrops) add to the pleasure of a round?
- Conditioning: How firm, fast and rolling were the fairways, and how firm yet receptive were the greens on the day you played the course?
- Ambience: How well does the overall feel and atmosphere of the course reflect or uphold the traditional values of the game?