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The Dunes Golf & Beach Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.4

Golf - Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Myrtle Beach, SC
Website
Date Last Played: June 12, 2010

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The Dunes Golf & Beach Club Review

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club is one of Myrtle Beach’s premier private clubs with a world wide reputation and rich history.   Designed by Robert Trend Jones, The Dunes was established in 1948 and was the second golf course built in Myrtle Beach.  Everyone we talked to during our week long vacation in Myrtle Beach said that The Dunes is a “must play” and one of, if not the best course in the Myrtle Beach area.  The Dunes is one of the most highly rated courses in the Myrtle Beach Area:

  • Our fellow Texan, Lee Trevino said “That’s a fabulous golf course.  It’s one of the best I have ever played!”   
  • The Dunes is #38 in Golf Digest’s 2009-2010 “America’s Top 100 Great Public Courses" 
  • It was selected #8 in South Carolina's Top 50 Golf Courses by the South Carolina Golf Course Rating Panel and #1 in the Grand Strand Region
  • The Dunes was named to the 2010 Golf World Readers’ Choice Awards in the Top 50 Resorts category according to Golf World

And the course has been home to a number of tournaments including two USGA National Championships as well as the PGA Tour Qualifying School.  We felt very lucky and special to be able to play it.  It is a private club but available for play with reciprocal rights and limited tee times are available through affiliated resorts and hotels.

Built on a rolling land studded with majestic live oak trees, The Dunes Club, though not a true seaside course, has some views of the Atlantic Ocean, plays by some tidewater marsh areas, and is buffeted by sea breezes.  It is a classic Robert Trent Jones layout with tree lined fairways, long tees, well-defined fairway bunkers, and elevated greens guarded by small to huge steep and deep bunkers.  In 2001 the course underwent a $6 million renovation and in 2003, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones, restored and redid all the greens with bent grass, which were in near perfect condition when we played.  The greens were about average size, at tad slow thanks to a recent aeration (normally they run about 10), and have minor slope and undulation.  Most of the greens are elevated, requiring you to club up, and are very well protected by bunkers that we want to do everything you can to avoid.  For example, number 16 was a bear with a small 27 yard deep odd shaped two tier green surrounded by 7 bunkers.  Make sure you practice your sand shots before you head out to play The Dunes.  Once you do get on the greens, you’ll find that they hold well, are true, and not that difficult to putt.

The Bermuda fairways are ample, pretty traditional and straightforward, gently rolling and contoured.  In most cases you can see the pin but there are a couple of hidden hazards that can add a stroke to your round if you’re not careful.  The fairways were in great condition and lined with stately oaks with Spanish moss, crepe myrtles, tall magnolias, and pines.  The rough was cut thicker than normal but playable and when we did spray it to the pine needle beds under the trees we were able to chip our way back to safety. 

The Dunes has a slope ranging from 130 to 144 and a rating of 68.7 to 75.7 – we didn’t think it was quite that challenging, but it is long, has strategically placed deep bunkers, well guarded elevated greens, some forced carries, and water.  Typical of most Robert Trent Jones designs, you are going to encounter some bunkers, 76 to be exact, of all shapes and sizes (small pot bunkers to some real monsters) which are strategically placed in the fairway or guarding the greens and  most of which are steep and deep with soft thick sand. 

It’s easy to say, but if you pick the right tee boxes for your handicap, can keep the ball in the fairway, avoid most of the bunkers, and putt, you’ll have a good score and a memorable fun round.   

For risk takers and long hitters, you’ll have a couple good opportunities to test your nerves, particularly on the infamous  

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club is home to some fantastic holes and beautiful par 3s, like:

  • #13 which is a 245 yard par 3 with a carry over water to a shallow 26 yard green with water and 4 bunkers protecting it or
  • #16, called Bull's Eye, which is a short but challenging par 4 thanks to fairly narrow fairway with a strategically placed fairway bunker and a small downhill oval green surrounded by 6 bunkers
  • the infamous #13 (named Waterloo) which was chosen by both Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, and Sports Illustrated as one of America’s Best Holes - its 590 yards with a fairly narrow fairway that horseshoes around a lake to a small well guarded green – a great opportunity to risk flying the lake to shorten the hole to potentially get a birdie or eagle, but beware, many a tournament has been won or lost on this fantastic hole
  • 18 is a fantastic finishing hole named Little Gator which will eat your ball if you miss the challenging downhill approach over water to a green with some monstrous bunkers left and right

What makes playing The Dunes Golf & Beach Club enjoyable is it's rich tradition and history, fun and challenging holes, near perfect conditions, excellent pace of play, and unequalled service.   A must play if you're in Myrtle Beach. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,195 75.7 144
Gold 6,565 72.6 138
Blue 6,175 70.6 135
White 5,790 68.7 130
Red 5,345 71.4 131

Course Information

Course Architect:
Robert Trent Jones, Sr.
Greens Condition
10.0
Greens Difficulty
8.5
GPS:
No
Scorecard
Course Map
Beware of water on 13 holes and the 79 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.4 out of 10
Beauty:
9.5
Difficulty:
8.5
Variety:
9.0
Fun to Play:
10.0
Value:
9.5
Condition:
10.0
Front Nine Rating:
9.0
Back Nine Rating:
9.7
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Service is outstanding, the pro shop is well stocked and one of the best, and the club house is first class. Practice facilities are also excellent - spend some time practicing getting out of the bunkers!

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.