MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - The awards and honors are scattered across the clubhouse walls at Arcadian Shores Golf Club. Yet, some of them are older than the golfers actually playing the course these days.
The great news for Myrtle Beach golfers is that there is a group of people doing their best to see that this venerable Rees Jones' layout - this was the first course he designed all on his own - returns to prominence in one of the nation's most crowded markets.
Real estate firm Burroughs & Chapin, one of the Grand Strand's most high-profile developers, has owned the golf course since it opened in 1973, but the Myrtle Beach Hilton Resort has leased the course ever since. Over the last three-plus decades, Arcadian Shores G.C. has suffered without the backing, support and expertise of a true golfing professionals.
"I think they said it best when they got here," Arcadian Shores Head Professional Jason Mitchell said. "They said, 'We're hotel people, and you guys are golf people.' They were ready to let some golf course operators come in and get the golf course back into proper shape."
Hilton officials decided to let Burroughs & Chapin manage the course in June 2009, bringing together one of the area's foremost golfing companies with one of its top hoteliers. Mitchell, who moved from the Resort Course at Grande Dunes, and Co. have been busy ever since returning the course to its award-winning roots.
"Since these guys have taken over, this course has turned a full 180 degrees," said Arcadian Shores member Allen Brown, a 27 handicap. "It's excellent. Before it was in bad shape. We realized it because we live here and played it all the time. ... Since Burroughs & Chapin has taken over, it's been excellent. I bet it'll be pristine."
That impression was shared by Canadians Carson and Mary McVey, who hadn't played the course in several years before returning in 2010.
"We hadn't played it in years, and the last time we played it wasn't in great shape," Carson said. "I've found a huge difference, so somebody is doing their job around here for sure."
Perhaps Mitchell summed up this tract as well as anybody possibly could: "What you see is what you get." Measuring just 6,857 yards from the tips, this course is playable by golfers of all ability levels. It is a mostly straightforward challenge, but Jones didn't leave Arcadian Shores Golf Club without any defense mechanisms.
Jones strategically placed a bevy of bunkers throughout the golf course that seemingly come into play on every tee or approach shot. The fairways, which are in exceptional shape considering the state of the course over the last decade or so, and greens are large and easy to hit - if you can stay out of the sand.
Every green at Arcadian Shores Golf Club is guarded by at least one bunker and many of them are surrounded by multiple traps just waiting to grab the errant approach. These 64 traps aren't massive pot bunkers, so they aren't too penal if you find yourself in one, but it's still a challenge to get up and down for par out of the sand.
Plus, many of the greens are elevated and the ocean breezes come into play, especially on the backside which is within a few hundred yards of the beachfront.
"I think it's a very difficult course," Brown said. "Almost all of the greens are elevated. For you to hit a good shot, you can't just depend on rolling it up."
Water comes into play on a number of holes, including three of the most memorable at Arcadian Shores Golf Club: the par-3 second, the par-4 13th and the par-3 17th. The second and 17th holes have long tee shots over water, but neither of them is as beautiful or challenging as the 13th, which is one of the most revered holes in the Myrtle Beach area. It was recently named by the PGA as one of the best 18 holes in all of South Carolina.
The hole measures 408 yards from the tips and has a fairway that climbs slightly for about 215 yards before the fairways dives down in elevation to a pond. The green is situated across the pond and is protected all the way across the front by water and by a bunker on the back. It's one of the most majestic and challenging holes in the area.
Arcadian Shores Golf Club gives you the opportunity to connect with the roots of one of the nation's best designers. The status quo here has certainly changed since the summer of 2009. Plus, Burroughs & Chapin has promised even more enhancements that will continue to help the golf course return to its best form. The layout is a fair, fun test for any golfer, and it is still among the best designs and layouts in the Myrtle Beach area.
A practice facility and golf instruction are both available on site. Arcadian Shores Golf Club also hosts the Hilton Golf Academy.
April 16, 2010