International Club golf course just south of Myrtle Beach: World class in every way
MURRELLS INLET, S.C. -- The International Club in Murrells Inlet stands out because of the perfect condition of the golf course, fast, smooth greens and a wide variety of holes. You'll never tire of this course.
The first owner, who did a lot of globe-hopping, named the club and at each tee installed a plaque about a country from which the course has had visitors, said Jamie Roderick, head golf professional and vice president of operations. The plaques give a synopsis of the nation's history and list three famous people.
The Willard Byrd design, which opened in 2000, offers a simple, classic layout.
"We have some of the fastest greens on the beach," Roderick said. "It's very manicured, and we overseed everything."
No matter what time of year, it is emerald green and resplendent with something blooming. Fairways will cradle your ball, setting it up for some great shots.
"It's truly a back-to-nature experience," Roderick said. "It's very peaceful, even with the homes" set back from the course.
Towering pines -- giving you the impression you're in a North Carolina forest, not a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean -- flank many fairways.
It's a golf course that treads gently. The hazards are subtle but effective, and the greens are large and sloped but not overly undulating. Some holes are long, while others are not. Even the risk-rewards are subtle. You have to go looking for trouble. If you place your shots well, you'll never notice the perils. If you're astray, hazards arise almost out of the mist.
The spacing for tee sets at the International Club is a little off-kilter. The course maxes out at 6,857 yards, drops to 6,367 from the white, 5,912 from the yellow, 5,369 from the red and 4,838 from the blue tees.
Roderick called the par-3 11th the course's signature hole, a nearly island green beset with bunkers. The most challenging might be No. 4, a short par 4.
"It's not a driver hole," Roderick said. "You have to be in great position for your second shot" to avoid water near the green.
In opposite order from many courses, the tee shot is the challenge to keep it where it needs to be. After that, it opens up to the green, Roderick said. Pin placements and approach angles, however, are critical on this course.
Gary Falconer plays the International Club often.
"It's exceptionally manicured," he said. "It's fair but challenging. You can really score well here."
Bud Pruitt said it's fairly wide, but you have to hit it in the center because it can roll off right or left. He likes the par-5 ninth hole because "you can try all kinds of shots."
The front nine is classic and simple: trees, rolling fairways and well-placed lateral hazards of sand or water.
Starting with the ninth hole, the pace changes a little. Fairways turn at sharper angles, and water and bunkers jut farther into the fairways.
The ninth is a par 5 that ends at a right turn to a green fronted by bunkers and a pond to the right, making an approach from the left much preferred.
The 12th hole, a par 5, gives only a tiny alley along the tee box line for a dry drive; otherwise, it's a bit of a water carry. Closer to the green, a bunker collection closes in on both sides of the fairway, but the green is plenty big enough for approach shots.
The 15th hole starts off wide, but your second shot has to avoid water on both sides of the fairway. If coming from the left, you have to fly a bunker to get to the elevated green.
The course concludes with a par 5 with water and bunkers on the right and trees left. The green is in the middle of four bunkers, so hope you can float a nice shot in there.
International Club: The verdict
This top-end golf course caters to you. Staff greets you at the bag drop and makes sure you have everything you need during your round. The care extends to the grounds crew. They work hard to keep the course in beautiful condition. Between the excellent customer service and the pristine conditions, you'll think you're a member for a day at an exclusive club. Nothing wrong with that.