When I visited the golfing Mecca of Myrtle Beach some years ago it was hard to choose the courses to play as there were so many and every one of them looked good! One course which I knew I had to include on my itinerary was Pine Lakes as this was the original club on the Grand Strand and had a fine reputation. The historic course was known as the Granddaddy and when the day to play at the course arrived I was a little apprehensive. This place looked more formal and frankly snobbish than the others in the area and I wondered if I might feel a little uncomfortable.
When I pulled up outside the clubhouse I received the friendly welcome and generous offers of assistance that I was becoming used to in South Carolina and immediately felt more relaxed. The architecture of the place was stunning and had the feel of a plantation home. There was a sense of history and old time grandeur but there was a welcoming atmosphere nonetheless. In any case I was already rather amused at the club’s take on golfing history. They had gone all out for the Scottish look and all the staff were dressed in kilts! Tartan was everywhere and they all looked like they had been on a shopping spree in Scotland.
I was further amused when I stepped outside to claim my cart. The golf buggies at Pine Lakes were fashioned to look like mini Rolls Royce cars. There was something rather kitsch about the club’s attempts at theming but they just about carried it off without being appearing tacky. The course itself was glorious and in great condition but was a little lengthy from the women’s tee. I was finding my round a bit of a challenge but an enjoyable one. I completed the front nine and was on my way to the tenth tee when I encountered another Pine Lakes tradition. Before taking on the back nine you are offered a glass of Mimosa (Bucks Fizz). Apparently you get clam chowder in the winter months. The drink was served by a kilted waiter from a silver tray and for one moment I felt rather important!
After my round I was greeted by a group of valets who escorted me to a comfortable seat and proceeded to clean my clubs and then my shoes. Now I was feeling uncomfortable as all the golfers were white but the valets were all black. One of them had clearly spotted my discomfort and said that I shouldn’t worry as they all loved their jobs and working as a valet enabled them to grab a lot of free golf. I still didn’t like the situation but by that time I was ready to return to my car. The valet carried my clubs for me and loaded them into the boot. I asked him how his golf game was going and he said it was going well so I asked what handicap he had managed to achieve. He then told me that he was a scratch golfer! Thank god he didn’t see me play!
I enjoyed my visit to Pine Lakes. It was a bizarre combination of Deep South old world charm and kitsch Scottish theming but it sort of worked and the course was lovely. I understand there have been big changes since my visit so I might have to go back to test things out.
Article by Sally Stacey