If the Grand Strand was one big golf course, and with more than 100 links located along the 60-mile stretch of coastline it certainly could be mistaken for one, then the Long Bay Resort would be a long par-5 from one of the most prestigious layouts in the area.
Just north of Long Bay Resort rests the historic Dunes Golf & Beach Club, the second golf course built on the Grand Strand and the first designed to cater to locals. After the nearby Pine Lakes International Country Club was opened as part of the old Ocean Forest Hotel in 1927, locals decided to construct a course of their own in 1948.
Granted more than 270 acres on the northernmost end of the Myrtle Beach city limits, the Dunes Club had humble beginnings that quickly blossomed into a nationally acclaimed course. The community rallied together to build Chapin's Cabin, a crude structure that still stands near the 11th hole, but the project soon had bigger and grander plans.
The original 18-hole Dunes Club layout, designed by legendary architect Robert Trent Jones, opened for play in 1950 and the amenities quickly sprang up around it – a new clubhouse, tennis center, swimming complex and a 19th hole that today is known as the Waterloo Grill, named for the famous 13th hole that still ranks as one of the best on the East Coast.
While the course has undergone major changes over the years, the 13th signature hole has stood the test of time and has only gotten better with age. The par-5 wraps around Lake Singleton, daring golfers to make the crossing at the widest point possible. That can be tricky in more ways than one since a collection of alligators guard the shoreline. This is one hole where you want to stay high and dry. Par is a blessing.
The rest of the course is vintage Jones. Featuring long, narrow fairways that are tightly lined by towering pines and twisting live oaks, the layout is a marvel of golf course design. Known for making the golf course fit the terrain rather than the terrain fit the golf course, Jones created a real gem with this layout amid the Lowcountry woodlands and wetlands. Natural water hazards and yawning sand bunkers add to the degree of difficulty, but the course’s Southern charm and hospitality soften the blow for those who appreciate a true test of golf and a classic layout.
While it's hard to improve upon a masterpiece, the Dunes Club underwent major renovations in 2003. A-1 Bentgrass greens were installed but the greens surfaces were restored to their original size and shape to preserve Jones' handiwork. When the club had another makeover in 2013, the Dunes Club hired Jones' son, Rees Jones, to update the course while keeping it as close to the designer's original intent as possible.
“The golf course my father, Robert Trent Jones, created for the Dunes Club in 1948 is one of his true masterpieces,” Rees Jones said. “It is a challenging championship course designed on ideal land for golf; sandy, rolling terrain along the ocean with magnificent trees framing the fairways. It has been one of the highlights of my career to have had the opportunity to restore and enhance the original design intent. The course is now positioned for play by today's golfers.”
The Dunes Club has played host to numerous professional tournaments over the years, including the Senior PGA Tour Championship in the late 1990s and several PGA Tour Q-Schools. The Dunes Club is semi-private, so non-members can secure hard-to-find tee times. Long Bay guests can contact the resort’s golf department to help your chances of playing a true Myrtle Beach golfing original.