The reopening of a golf course during a period of an economic downturn is encouraging to any city, but to Myrtle Beach, called the “Golf Capital of the World,” this is particularly heartening. The Myrtle Beach area is now home to 102 courses, but has been experiencing the closing of several courses in the last few years because the golf market became saturated. At the beginning of the 21st century, there were over 120 courses in the area.
Pine Lakes was originally built in 1927 as the Ocean Forest Golf Club and was designed by Robert White, a native of St. Andrews, Scotland. This course and the historic Ocean Forest hotel put Myrtle Beach on the map as the destination of choice for some of the country's and world's wealthiest families.
Prior to its closing in 2006 for renovation, the Pine Lakes course was known for its kilt-clad bag boys and golf carts designed to look like miniature Rolls Royces. On the third tee, there would also be a kilt-clad or chef-clad employee serving free mimosas (champagne and orange juice) or clam chowder during cooler weather.
Although the kilts and Rolls are gone, the renovated course is guaranteed to provide golfers with an authentic visit back to early 20th century Scottish golf. The developer, Craig Schreiner, restored the course to White's original drawings for nine holes and created the other nine holes in the same vein. In addition to a beautifully restored clubhouse in the Antebellum plantation style, the $15 million-project includes a a 6000 square foot addition to the clubhouse and the Garden at Pine Lakes, which is a private area that will also be used for weddings and events. Clam chowder and mimosa will still be served, but you'll have to order them from the Robert White pub.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the course is the use of a Seashore Paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) – a grass used on the fairways, roughs, tees and greens. Seashore Paspalum was the grass used inside the slave ships brought from Africa and when dumped onto the South Carolina coast was found to flourish. According to the designer Shreiner, “it's a salt tolerant grass that can be mowed to all heights...” and it can be irrigated with brackish water. Other golf courses in the area are watching the success of its use.