In the absence of a brand new Myrtle Beach golf course, Members Club at Grande Dunes has delivered the next best thing: an outstanding private course opening its fairways to some public play for the first time.
Members Club opened on June 2, 2005 as one of the centerpiece amenities of Grande Dunes, the area’s most upscale development. Access to the Nick Price design was limited, but word of its quality and luxury spread, making it one of the Grand Strand’s most sought-after tee times.
Much to the delight of players, Members Club is now open to golfers in town on a package.
Members Club reflects its name as the layout is very player friendly. Working with Craig Schreiner, who led the redesign of Pine Lakes, Price placed an emphasis on playability throughout 7,029-yard design.
“It’s a course you can play,” Frank Coughlin, Members Club’s general manager, said. “It’s not really going to beat you up, but it can play as difficult as you want depending on the set of tees you play.”
The course isn’t particularly punishing off the tee – the only two forced carries are on 16 and 17 – and there is a surplus of landing room. Price strategically placed fairway bunkers to threaten some wayward tee shots, but Members Club allows players to swing away.
The layout’s primary challenge lies on and around the greens, which average 8,000-square-feet in size. Sand and swales defend each of the layout’s L93 bentgrass greens, which roll as true as any on the Myrtle Beach golf scene.
With an airy layout that is largely devoid of heavy tree lines, Members Club offers an ideal environment for bentgrass to thrive and the greens, like the rest of the facility, are impeccably maintained.
Given its roots as a private club, Coughlin and his staff do more than pay lip-service to the member-for-a-day experience. Guests get the VIP treatment from bag drop to a post-round club cleaning, and the clubhouse is unrivaled (having food and drink on the veranda should be part of every visit to the course).
Members Club does more than pamper players, it offers an outstanding round of golf as well. The two most popular sets of tees – the back (6,600 yards ) and middle (6,048) – aren’t overly long at first glance, but don’t be fooled.
The course is a par 71 layout that features five par 3s, including three on the front side. The par 4s have plenty of meat, including the seventh hole which plays 429 yards from the middle tees. Two of the four par 5s, including the monster 15th hole (621/587/551), play more than 500 yards from the middle tee.
The aforementioned seventh and 15th holes are the layout’s most challenging but players will carry the memories of the 9th and 18th long after they’ve returned home from a Myrtle Beach golf trip.
The ninth is a risk-reward par 5 that is reachable in two, despite its length (577/547/515), for players who reach the crest of the hill and have the prevailing wind at their back. A large lake runs along the right side of the hole and fronts the green, making the second shot all carry. With the opulent clubhouse serving as a backdrop, the approach on No. 9 is the day’s most dramatic shot.
The closing hole is no less memorable, but players only have to contend with water running along the left side. The green is well protected by the trademark bunkers and swales and the clubhouse, often with people watching from the deck, provides the perfect visual to finish play.
The Verdict: Golfers were the unquestioned winners in the decision to open Members Club to some public play. Pace of play is great, the facilities are as good as any on the beach, and the layout is strong throughout. If playing the best of Myrtle Beach is a priority, add the Members Club at Grande Dunes to your group’s must play list.