By John Lewis
I n the early 1920s, the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand was little more than a few rows of small beach cottages lined along coquina shell roads. But there were grand plans for the Grand Strand, even back then. In 1911, Simeon B. Chapin, a New York stockbroker and land owner, was visiting a friend from Pinehurst who told him of a tract of 66,000 acres on the South Carolina coast that was available for development and owned by one family, the Burroughs. Chapin eventually struck a partnership with the Burroughs brothers to create a company called Myrtle Beach Farms. In the beginning, their primary focus was on farming and timber, but that soon shifted to developing their land into a major resort area.
In 1926, Myrtle Beach Farms sold 65,000 acres to the Woodside Brothers of Greenville, SC for $850,000. Perhaps no man dreamed this town’s future as grandly as did John Woodside. He envisioned Myrtle Beach becoming one of the plushest resorts in the Southeast and one of the great vacation spots in the whole world. With this in mind, he began building two grand structures. The first was the Ocean Forest Hotel, a white-painted palace with giant columns, marble floors and crystal chandeliers. The other was the Ocean Forest Country Club, with a handsome two-story clubhouse surrounded by a 36-hole golf complex, The course was designed by Scotsman Robert White, who would become the first president of the PGA. Many celebrities walked through the doors of the elegant Ocean Forest Hotel, during its day a resort as fine as any on the East Coast. Woodside was busy making plans to expand the resort with seasonal homes and other amenities, when, in the fall of 1929, the stock market crashed dashing Woodside’s dreams.
The golf course was eventually renamed Pine Lakes Country Club and was acquired by the Miles family who, affectionately nicknamed it “The Granddaddy.” Pine Lakes Country Club is now the property of National Golf Management Company who has invested huge sums toward the preservation of one of Myrtle Beach’s greatest treasures. An extensive renovation to the golf course and clubhouse was completed in 2009, and you can now experience the Granddaddy much as it was in the spirit of the 1920s. The back nine reflects White’s original design, and the front nine was enhanced to deliver the experience golfers from around the world associate with Pine Lakes Country Club. From the tees through the greens at Pine Lakes are covered in Seashore Paspalum, a turf grass that thrives in coastal environment, providing an excellent year-round playing surface.
As you might expect, Pine Lakes has been witness to its share of noted golfers and other celebrities, along with several significant moments. For instance, it was at Pine Lakes Country Club in the late 1950’s that a group of Time, Inc. executives on a golf trip came up with the idea of a weekly sports magazine. Soon after, Sports Illustrated was launched.
Pine Lakes is also home to the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame where tribute is paid daily to individuals who have made significant contributions to the game and to the Myrtle Beach golf industry.
Over the past 95 years, more than 100 new courses have been introduced along the Myrtle Beach Grand Strand, but Pine Lakes continues to hold its own. Classic design and tradition remain hallmarks of the game and of this venerable old course. Once you play it, you’ll understand why.
Pine Lakes Country Club is still operated as a resort course, which means vacationing golfers are welcome all year long. Tee times are available through most area hotels and golf package providers, including Myrtle Beach Trips.
Learn more at PineLakes.comRobert White
A native of Scotland, Robert White emigrated to the United States in 1894 to study agronomy. After working as a professional/greenskeeper at Myopia Hunt Club in suburban Boston, he held the same positions at Cincinnati Golf Club and Louisville Golf Club. He would then serve as professional/greenskeeper at Ravisloe Country Club in suburban Chicago from 1902-1914. White took over as the professional/greenskeeper at Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, N.Y., in 1916. Having established a good reputation as a professional, architect, greenskeeper, clubmaker and all-around businessman, he was elected as the first President of The PGA of America on June 26, 1916. A charter member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, White designed and built more than 100 courses, including Ocean Forest Country Club (now Pine Lakes Country Club) and was the first to apply scientific principles to course maintenance in the United States. He was inducted posthumously into the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame in 2005.