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New Management, New Greens and a ... Bagpiper at Thistle?!

February 12, 2015 by Chris King

On a list of Myrtle Beach’s most underrated layouts, Thistle Golf Club has to rank somewhere near the top. Sure the 27-hole Tim Cate facility deservedly earned 4.5 stars from Golf Digest, but as a semi-private club, it didn’t receive the play or attention it merited.

That all changed – with a lot of other things - when Jack Davis, who also owns International Club, purchased the club in the fall of 2013.

Here is a look at everything you need to know about the Scottish inspired layout as we head into the spring of 2015:

Thistle Golf Club is one of the North Strand's best. On a list of Myrtle Beach’s most underrated layouts, Thistle Golf Club has to rank somewhere near the top. Sure the 27-hole Tim Cate facility deservedly earned 4.5 stars from Golf Digest, but as a semi-private club, it didn’t receive the play or attention it merited.

That all changed – with a lot of other things - when Jack Davis, who also owns International Club, purchased the club in the fall of 2013.

Here is a look at everything you need to know about the Scottish inspired layout as we head into the spring of 2015:

Everyone is Welcome: Thistle has always hosted outside play, but when the Davis family took over the course became exclusively public – open to locals and package play alike. The result is a layout that enjoyed a surge in play in 2014 and expects to do the same this year.

What’s Changed, Besides Ownership?: Quite a bit. The Davis family has invested considerable resources in making sure Thistle maintains its place near the top of the market, particularly on the North Strand. The MacKay Nine received new tif-eagle greens last year, beginning a course-wide renovation project that will conclude in the fall of 2015.

The Cameron 9 is next on deck and will receive new greens this summer, followed by the Stewart 9, meaning the entire facility will have new Bermuda grass greens that are equipped to thrive in the area’s subtropical climate by mid-September. The work didn’t stop with the putting surfaces. Every bunker at Thistle has been renovated and filled with new sand, a project that has greatly improved drainage and playability.

Yes, That’s a Bagpiper!!: Thistle traces its inspiration to the 1800s in Scotland, so in keeping with it’s heritage, a bagpiper will be playing at the course from 7-9 a.m. on weekends from mid-March through mid-November. The bagpiper, who was at the course last fall and takes requests, is just another way to help make your round memorable. Let’s be honest, we all love to hear the sounds of a bagpipe wafting through the air as we are preparing to play!

What to Expect on the Course: Thistle is a 27-hole facility that has links-style elements throughout, but Cate, one of the game’s most underappreciated architects, wasn’t a slave to creating a “type” of course.

[COURSE REVIEW: Generous Fairways, Creative Design Lure Players to Thistle]

All three nines at Thistle have distinct features bound together by the quality of Cate’s work and a commitment to conditioning. The MacKay nine, highlighted by the seventh hole, a true three-shot par 5, is more traditional Carolina layout with tree-lined fairways.

The Cameron 9 is the most open of the three, allowing players to bomb away off the tee, but it’s also has more water than it’s compatriots, so beware of straying to far off the fairway.

[3 BEST HOLES AT THISTLE] | [Thistle Photo Gallery]

The Stewart 9 offers players more of a true links feel. With its rolling terrain, fairways framed by mounding, and stacked sod bunkers, it provides a taste of Scotland.

What’s in a Name?: The Thistle Golf Club located in Leith, Scotland in the early 1800s was the inspiration for our Thistle, and a nod to the club’s history runs throughout. The clubhouse has documentation from the original Thistle on display and virtually everything at the club is purple, which is the color of thistle, a flowering weed that is prevalent in the old country.

A Clubhouse Worth Visiting: Whether it’s before you tee-off or it’s for a post-round drink, make sure you visit the Thistle’s clubhouse, the area’s nicest. The 38,000-square-foot clubhouse, with mahogany imported from England and Scotland, is stunning. It certainly contributes to the experience, so take time to enjoy it.

The People Have Spoken: How much has Thistle improved since the Davis family took over? We will defer to the opinion of your fellow golfers. In the fall of 2013, Thistle was 22nd in Myrtle Beach Golf Insider’s course rankings, which are based entirely on consumer evaluations. Today the course is tied for second with the famed Dunes Golf & Beach Club.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and book your tee time this spring at Thistle.