By: David Theoret
The Founders Club at Pawleys Island, south of Myrtle Beach, opened for play in 2008 and attracts golfers because of its unique appeal: the use of sand, rather than long, unforgiving rough. The course was designed by Thomas Walker, former lead designer for Gary Player Design, on land that was previously, the Sea Gull Golf Club, a Gene Hamm design, dating back to 1966.
The original course was relatively flat, but Walker moved over a quarter million cubic yards of dirt. As a result, Founders Club features sloping fairways, bunkers, elevation changes with lots of mounding. Rough areas were replaced with natural waste areas filled with native beach sand, pine straw and grasses. Also sprinkled throughout the course are wetlands, towering live oak and pine trees, as well ad, Azaleas, which add to the overall beauty.
Plus, the $7 million renovation project included a new Lowcountry-style clubhouse, overlooking the 18th green.
Another feature that sets Founders Club apart from other courses in the area are the Emerald Bermuda greens. This unique strain of grass withstands the summer heat and requires less water than other grasses, plus it has less grain.
Five sets of tees allow players to choose their level of difficulty. From the Black Tees, Founders Club plays 7,007 yards, with a course rating of 74.2 and a slope of 142. Mere mortals find the White tees (6,394 yards/71.2 course rating/133 slope) provide all the golf they can handle and allow them to leave with a little dignity. Senior tees play to 5,500 yards, while those choosing the most Forward Tees will enjoy a comfortable 4,805 yards.
With a premium on land usage in the area, a hitting net, which can accommodate six players, serves as the practice range. There is a putting green, with a chipping area available to get ready for your round.
Founders Club is a difficult, but a fair test. The waste bunkers and pine straw make it easier to find your ball and actually have a shot. Every hole has a sand challenge, but there are few holes requiring forced carries.
The course appeals to any type of golfer, whether you like to grip-it-and-rip-it, or play more conservatively. The option is yours.
If you are struggling after a few holes, consider playing one tee forward. If all else fails, the PGA professionals at Founders Club are always happy to provide a lesson to improve your game.
Whether you’re coming down to South Carolina in the spring with your golf buddies, or renting a home in the area, Founders Club will welcome you like one of their own.
The course’s natural setting allows for rapid drainage, even under extremely wet conditions, odds are that the course is open and playable.
Walker’s redo has received numerous accolades including, “One of the 30 Best Courses You Can Play in South Carolina.” It was also named “Myrtle Beach Golf Course of the Year,” in 2011.
The Founders Club at Pawleys Island is a proud member of the Waccamaw Golf Trail. For more information or to book your next round, visit the website at: http://www.waccamawgolftrail.com/courses/show/the-founders-club/