On Thursday, June 21, 2012, our travel group played Tidewater on a scheduled afternoon starting time. Located in North Myrtle Beach, SC, we found Tidewater to be a rather ordinary course with a dozen almost unforgettable holes mixed in with six that are absolutely breathtaking and run along the Intracoastal Waterway, and at the end of the day, form a distinct and lasting impression. This course is highly touted, and admittedly, when I recall my experience, I think of those great holes and the natural beauty of the area. At the conclusion of your round you feel as if you’ve played two separate courses.
We found the course in excellent condition from tee to green with the putting surfaces running smooth and medium-fast. Unfortunately, they had just began their summer aeration and were working incrementally. There were four holes (two front and back) punched and top-dressed, but even the putts on these four rolled reasonably true, which was a bit of a consolation.
- The par-3, 12this one of the most difficult and beautiful holes I’ve played in Myrtle Beach. Be precise with your club selection. With a stiff wind blowing in off the ocean and across the Intracoastal Waterway, three of the four players in our group actually hit this green and managed two-putt pars, which was the highlight of our day.
- There are two great par-5s (#8 and #16) that run along the waterway that are difficult to manage for the first time player. I figured most course architects don’t leave trouble at 100 yards from the green on a par-5 and this strategy worked well on these holes. However, the fairway bunker on #8 runs out at about 110 yards from the green so take enough club to clear it on your second.
- #9 is a medium length par-3 that played into the wind and about two clubs longer than you’d think. With marsh left and no bail-out right, the place to miss is short and in the closely mown approach. Beware of a big right to left slope on this green.
- #10 is a medium length dog leg right par-4 with ample room on the left side of the fairway. Use it. I drove it behind a bush in the right rough and had enough room to clear it and go for the green, but I wrestled with a forced carry over water and took too much club, ending up in the hazard behind the green. You need a clear shot to this green so favor the left.
- #18, when playing into the wind is a brutally tough par-4. I hit driver-3WD pin high and left which presented a very tough pitch that I could not get close because the green sloped away from me. Bogey is not a bad score here so don’t be a hero.
Value (3.0 out of 5.0)
The course is considered a premium play and we did not entertain a replay, hence the afternoon starting time. Greens fees are $94 in the height of the summer and $144 in the high season. Despite the lofty amount, everyone traveling to Myrtle Beach should play Tidewater at least once. The natural beauty of the featured holes somewhat justifies the cost.
Facilities (4.0 out of 5.0)
The drive into Tidewater feels exclusive and there is fairly tight security at the entrance gate. Once inside, Tidewater has a nice large clubhouse with a pro-shop and full service grill. The driving range is all-grass and of modest size (about 15 hitting stations). Adjacent is the practice putting green where they appear to allow chipping (we did), but they did not appear to have a designated short game area for pitching and bunker practice. The highlight here is the course itself and the stunning memorable holes.
Customer Experience (3.5 out of 5.0)
The customer experience was a mixed bag. The pro-shop staff were friendly and we felt unrushed because nobody was scheduled around us during our afternoon time. They charge $5.00 for range balls which is unnecessary for a premium facility like Tidewater where everything should be included. Golf carts were equipped with GPS but there was no cooler with ice, and the only drinking water on the course was at the restroom water fountains. The driving range staff was professional and after mishandling (accidentally dropping) one of our golf bags, gave us some free range balls as an apology. There is significant distance from green to subsequent teeing area on a lot of holes and directions on the cart paths were clearly marked, but we found it odd that there were no signs at the individual tee boxes denoting which hole you were playing.
For the record, I played the blue tees at 6,771 yards and carded an eight-over par 80. If you come to Myrtle Beach, make sure you make it out at least once to Tidewater and enjoy half a dozen of the best holes at the beach.
Updated from a round played Monday, June 8, 2015: The course has rebuilt their greens. They are Bermuda, running fast, and very hard. It was difficult to put a ball mark in and hold because the root structure hasn’t fully taken hold, but they look good. The customer service has improved as well and the range balls are now complimentary. Apparently the bad reputation Tidewater got from the problem with their greens over the last couple of years has spurred needed improvements. I was impressed.