Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus design renowned for its beauty and challenge, reopened October 2 after a comprehensive greens and bunkers restoration project.
Founders Group International (FGI), Pawleys’ parent company, contracted with Nicklaus Design Group and its Design Associate Troy Vincent to lead a project that has modernized one of the area’s most popular courses while maintaining the integrity of Nicklaus’ original work.
“Pawleys Plantation opened in the late 1980s, and it was time to look at the layout and reimagine what it could be,” said Steve Mays, President of Founders Group International. “When you have a golf course that is associated with an icon like Jack Nicklaus, of course you want to incorporate his input and use Jack’s design team to ensure the course continues to fulfill its potential going forward.”
Pawleys closed May 22 and golfers were welcomed back to a layout that received a dramatic facelift just as Myrtle Beach enters its peak fall season.
The seeds for the renovation of Pawleys were planted during a trip Nicklaus made to the acclaimed course in 2018 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its opening. The Golden Bear toured the layout, providing detailed notes on how to best update a design that has been among South Carolina’s most popular since its opening.
At the heart of Nicklaus’ vision was a layout that was more playable for average golfers without diminishing the challenge for more skilled players.
Over time, trees had encroached on the course, narrowing fairways corridors beyond the original intent, and the size of the greens complexes had shrunk dramatically. To create more room, Vincent and his team eliminated the sprawling bunkers that lined more than half of the layout’s holes, replacing them with additional fairway space and native areas, and removed trees when necessary to create optimum conditions.
“We followed Jack’s lead as far as what he wanted to see,” said Vincent, who has worked alongside the golf legend for 15 years. “It was our intention to make the course more playable, to give players more options, and we have carried that out. I think everyone will be happy.”
While there is more fairway to find, the challenge on and around the greens is more substantial as the number of pinnable areas significantly increased, placing greater demands on the short game.
“Working with the Nicklaus Group and Troy Vincent, who has done a fantastic job, has been a pleasure,” Mays said. “I believe we have brought the vision Jack Nicklaus outlined in 2018 to life. I can’t wait for everyone to come out and see the new Pawleys Plantation.”
Highlights of the project include:
● Every green complex and the surrounding fringe was stripped, tilled and restored to its original specifications, netting nearly 40,000 square feet of additional putting surface.
● The new greens feature TifEagle Bermudagrass, an ultradwarf strain that has performed exceedingly well at other area layouts, including the Grande Dunes Resort Course.
● The collar around every green was resurfaced with Tahoma 419, a hearty variety of bermudagrass that can withstand close mowing and is resistant to mutation.
● The sprawling bunkers on holes 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10, 12, 16 and 18 were replaced by smaller fairway bunkers, native areas and expanded fairways, enhancing the course’s playability for mid to high handicappers without reducing the challenge for more skilled players.
● In addition to the course work, Pawleys is undergoing a clubhouse renovation that will include the building of a new deck, offering stunning views of the course’s 18th hole, and the opening of a new restaurant that will cater to members and the public alike. The restaurant and deck are expected to open in the coming weeks.
Widely regarded as one of the prettiest courses in South Carolina, Pawleys features six back nine holes that play along a tidal marsh, a stretch highlighted by the 13th hole, a devilish par 3 that plays to a peninsula green surrounded by water and buffeted by winds off the nearby Atlantic Ocean.