When people think of Myrtle Beach, they think, naturally, of South Carolina, but a vital part of the Grand Strand golf scene lies just across the state line in Brunswick County, N.C.
Located 25 miles north of Myrtle Beach proper, Brunswick County's courses occasionally fly under the radar, but smart golf groups flock to the area, taking advantage of the quality and value. Architect Tim Cate built a sterling reputation with his work there - hello, Tiger's Eye, Leopard's Chase and Thistle - and layouts like Crow Creek and Sandpiper Bay, among the others, always deliver a quality experience.
Brunswick County is also home to several courses that play along the Calabash and Shallotte rivers, creating some of the area's most memorable visuals. Here is a look at five Brunswick beauties that are set along naturally occurring bodies of water.
With seven holes that play along the Shallotte River, there is a compelling case to be made that Rivers Edge is the Myrtle Beach area's prettiest course. The ninth hole attracts all the attention, but there are so many others. The downhill, par 3 eighth is unforgettable, and the four finishing holes are the Grand Strand's prettiest. This Arnold Palmer design should be on everyone's bucket list.
Oyster Bay introduced Brunswick County to the Myrtle Beach golf market upon its opening in 1983 and continues to be one of the area's most popular layouts. Oyster Bay is renowned for its pair of island greens and holes the play along the Calabash River, highlighted by the par 5 ninth, a three-shot hole that delivers beauty and challenge.
Carolina National, a Fred Couples design on the northern edge of the Grand Strand golf scene, is one of the area's most overlooked courses. A 27-hole facility, Carolina National offers an outstanding design and a beautiful setting along the Lockwood Folly River. The facility's most photographed hole is the par 3 fifth on the Heron course, a 203-yard challenge with the green almost completely surrounded by the marshy waters of the Lockwood Folly River.
The only property with two entries on our list is the Pearl, which features a pair of courses that play along the Calabash River. We will begin with the West Course, a linksy layout that features open fairways and a beautiful finishing kick. The river comes into play on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes, but it's the 16th, a 604-yard par 5, you won't forget. The river runs up the entire right side of one of the area's longest holes. It's the heart of a memorable conclusion.
The East Course at the Pearl has no parallel fairways or housing, but it does offer a visually pleasing finish along the Calabash River. The river comes into view on the 16th green and plays up the entire right side of the par 4 17th. It's a great stretch to help conclude a round the 4-star course.
What is your favorite Brunswick County course?