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Pine Lakes: Where History and Golf Meet in Myrtle Beach

Bob Gillespie Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.
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An aerial view shows the historic Robert White-designed Pine Lakes Clubhouse. Photo courtesy Pine Lakes

Founded in 1927 as Ocean Forest Golf Club and Inn, Pine Lakes Country Club in Myrtle Beach abounds with nostalgia and important dates. Such as April 30, 1954, when a group of Time-Life executives gathered in the Robert White-designed clubhouse (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) to conceive a new weekly magazine. You know it as Sports Illustrated.

Browse through the "Snug Pub," just off the larger, 2,200-square-foot Robert White Pub, and you'll find walls hung with photos of LPGA Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias and Patty Berg; a framed copy of the original Sports Illustrated first cover; and newspaper clippings detailing the 1928 completion of 27 holes and the clubhouse's 38 guest rooms.

History is a big selling point at Pine Lakes. Many come just to look at the impressive clubhouse, with its stately white columns and original ballroom.

The bunkers on the 7th hole at Pine Lakes.

But since 2009, when the course reopened after a 2 ½-year, $27 million renovation, more and more come to play the course. Those who remember it from the old days find a totally different look created by architect/renovator Craig Schreiner.

Gone are two original holes (replaced by the current fourth and fifth holes) and many of the pines that made the old holes' corridors downright claustrophobic. You also won't find two par-5s that were converted (but barely shortened) to par-4s. Now, with somewhat wider fairway corridors but also with four par-4s measuring 463, 437, 438 and 450 yards, the "old" course has new, and sharp, teeth

With water on a dozen holes, deep soft-sand bunkers and elevated greens that tilt and slope precariously, the new, par-70 Pine Lakes (a deceptive 6,675 yards from the tips) is all the challenge most would want.

One of the shorter but still daunting holes is the 180-yard, par-3 16th. With water right, a cavernous bunker left and a green that slopes severely left to right, this hole will leave a memory - and a mark.

Pine Lakes 18th hole and clubhouse.

Missing are some old Pine Lakes touches: bag attendants in kilts, and especially "Big Dog," a former staffer named Perry Bellamy who served golfers cups of clam chowder in the fall, mimosas in the spring at the 11th hole (now the par-3 second). State health department regulations did away with outdoor servings, though the chowder is available indoors.

The clubhouse's original wooden floors, chandeliers and crown moldings remain, though. As do the Myrtle Beach Hall of Fame plaques still clustered around an outdoor sitting area.

Pine Lakes is an intriguing mix of old and new, once described as a pussycat-turned-young lion - with sharp claws.

Bob Gillespie
Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.