Improving Arcadian Shores Golf Club in Myrtle Beach is an up-and-coming treat

By Ian Guerin, Contributor

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Three years ago, Jason Mitchell was moved from a high-profile course over to Arcadian Shores Golf Club just north of city limits.

Arcadian Shores Golf Club - hole 13
Arcadian Shores Golf Club's par-4 13th hole is among South Carolina's "Dream 18."
Arcadian Shores Golf Club - hole 13Arcadian Shores Golf Club - hole 7Arcadian Shores Golf Club - hole 11Arcadian Shores Golf Club - hole 2
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Arcadian Shores Golf Club

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Arcadian Shores Golf Club is traditional in concept and both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine have acknowledged this facility as a course of distinction. The beatifully-maintained Rees Jones design winds through clusters of live oaks and natural lakes.

18 Holes | Resort golf course | Par: 72 | 6857 yards | ... details »

The upper middle-class club was still in great shape, but Mitchell and the management team saw room for improvement. They went to work, and maybe not too long into the future, the "glory days" -- as Mitchell puts it -- will return.

"We've come a long way in terms of our maintenance programs and aerification programs," Mitchell said. "We've built a foundation in the last three years. The rule is to build on that foundation."

It's become a way of life at Arcadian.

Upgrades in Mitchell's short time on the job have included phasing in new carts, removing approximately 300 trees and something as seemingly simple as adding and improving on several strategically placed restrooms around the course.

And while the course has already spent low six figures on major upgrades, more are already in the works. Should Arcadian's play continue to increase alongside the economy, players will start seeing more selling points for the already strong 18 holes. Cart path repaving could be completed as soon as summer of 2013.

"The overall detail of the golf course is much cleaner," he said. "You can't emphasize enough just how (important) the little things are."

None of those little things have gone unnoticed.

Arcadian Shores Golf Club: The course

Two problems were present when Mitchell came over.

First, the plentiful number of bunkers weren't up to snuff with the rest of the course.

"We've had a tremendous response from our customers in that feedback has been remarkable from the standpoint of the bunkers, the detail work, the edging," Mitchell said. "When we first got here, the bunkers kind of ran together. You didn't know where they began and where they ended."

Clear-cut lines are now in place. However, that's not to say they aren't a major part of the golf course. With more than 60 bunkers -- not including some that are large enough to warrant being called three or four -- Arcadian Shores is a sand-heavy course.

That's not much of a surprise, as the course itself was originally built on top of sand-based ground. However, cleaning up the traps was a major priority.

Even with clean sand and distinguished lines, they can frustrate the golfers who get too close.

"(There are) a lot of bunkers, which makes it challenging. I like that," upstate New York native Mike McAllister said during a recent visit. "They play very fair. If you take a good quality swing with it, you're going to get a good quality result. You get what you get. If you hit a poor swing, you’re going to pay for it."

The second issue Mitchell is getting ready to tackle is something most courses in the area don't have to.

The sand-based ground causes the course to drain unusually fast. That's nice during the wet portions of the year; the course is generally playable even 30 minutes after significant rain.

However, keeping the course from drying out isn't exactly easy, not that players would notice.

The tee boxes, many covered by existing trees, are soft. The fairways are as solid as any comparably priced golf course in Myrtle Beach. And the Tifton Bermuda grass greens are "rolling as true as ever right now," Mitchell said.

In total, the par-72 Rees Jones track plays anywhere from 6,857 yards from the championship tees down to 5,113 from the ladies tees.

The par-4 No. 13 has twice recently been honored by various publications, most notably the PGA's "Dream 18" for the state of South Carolina. No. 13 and the par-3 No. 2 have both also been named two of the best holes in the Coastal Carolinas by both the Myrtle Beach Sun News and Myrtle Beach Golf Magazine.

Arcadian Shores Golf Club: Facilities and instruction

Arcadian Shores hosts and supports the Hilton Golf Academy, a personalized teaching program built for one-time or long-term lessons.

The club also has a large driving range and putting green located directly next to the starter, making warm-up prior to a round extremely efficient. The clubhouse holds a full-service snack bar with grill and seating area with flat-screen TVs.

The pro shop is stocked with any last-second needs, from a new driver (or rental clubs) all the way down to sun block.

Arcadian Shores Golf Club: The verdict

McAllister admits that he continues to patronize Arcadian Shores because of proximity to his vacation spot each year. Just the same, there's enough options within range if he didn't like what he saw.

"Overall," McAllister said, "the place is in great shape."

He's not the only one to notice the constant development of the course. It doesn't matter that two-thirds of the play at Arcadian comes from resort and hotel packages.

Those out-of-towners come back year after year, knowing they're going to appreciate the course that keeps getting better.

Ian GuerinIan Guerin, Contributor

Ian Guerin is a freelance writer and DJ living in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He's decent with the driver and putter; it's everything else in the bag that gives him trouble. Follow Ian on Twitter at @iguerin.

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