Originally the site of the 1960s-era Sea Gull Golf Club, The Founder’s Club at Pawleys Island opened in 2008, showing off a $7 million renovation. Among the most notable improvements: revamped, isolated tee boxes; scenic and challenging water features; and the 250,000 yards of cubic dirt that plumped up a flat front nine to more closely resemble the rolling terrain of the back nine.
That gives the layout, designed by former Gary Player design lead architect Thomas Walker, more elevation change than is typical of a beach course. The new-look, semi-private course earned “Myrtle Beach Golf Course of the Year” honors in 2011, and has hosted the World Amateur Handicap Championship. The Founder’s Club features extensive bunkers and, instead of the Bermuda rough of many area courses, sandy waste areas lining the fairways. Those fairways are tight and firm and reward well-struck irons.
The layout measures 7,007 yards from the back tees, though its five tees offer the opportunity for every golfer to experience a rewarding round if the undulating greens, water hazards, wetlands, tree lines, and greenside bunkers and hollows can be successfully navigated. Par-3s measure from 146 to 209 yards, while three par-5s are clustered on Nos. 9, 10 and 12. The 559-yard ninth hole’s double dogleg twists left, then right, and has fairway and waste bunkers as well as water to consider. The par-4s boast a wide variety of lengths and shapes.
One of the course’s most challenging holes is the 449-yard, par-4 14th, a Pinehurst-inspired dogleg right around a stand of pines with a back-to-front sloping green guarded by deep bunkers on both sides. The course does not have a driving range, but does have an extensive practice area with a putting green and a separate chipping green, as well as practice nets. Once the closing hole has been conquered, guests can sip a cocktail on the wraparound porch of the clubhouse overlooking the 18th green.