Myrtle Beach is one of the most golf-dense destinations on Earth but if for some reason you’d rather not cross into South Carolina, there are a decent number of golf options available at the North Carolina border as well. One of those is Thistle Golf Club, a public-access facility featuring 27 holes, all designed by Tom Cate.
The most celebrated combination of nines is the Cameron and MacKay; the former of the two plays into a similar formula to that which you’ll find in Myrtle Beach, with ample water hazards to challenge the best and make the rest think about laying up. Although No. 4 is not quite an island green, as it comes so early in the round, players will be prepared for similar challenge throughout.
Although No. 7 on the Cameron will maintain this theme, with a long, forced carry over a lake to the green, players may be surprised to note the lack of water impeding them on the MacKay nine, which takes an approach more in line with North Carolina's sandhills, with large waste areas and pine trees lining the route. At the last moment, however, players will emerge to a 560-yard par five, that curves all the way around the lake, until forcing a carry to the green.
This is a fun course. We recently completed a ten course boondoggle to the Myrtle Beach area and this was either number one or number two in everyone's rankings. It is set up as production golf and the staffs lack of flexibility was disconcerting, but the course is nice.
The opening hole is welcoming. Favor the right side to take the water out of play. The 2nd hole is a wee bit longer, but this time with water right. Favor the left off the tee. The 3rd is a long par four with fairway bunkers left and right. The two tiered redan green is protected with a deep bunker on the left. The 4th is the shortest par three, albeit, all water carry with front left and right bunkers on an island green. The first par five is reachable and is S shaped. Large waste bunkers right and swamp left. If you find the fairway off the tee, two more average shots and you will be putting for birdie. The 6th is a long par four with waste bunker right and three fairway bunkers left. The green has bunkers left and right with water on the right and rear. The 7th is a short par four and a great birdie oppty. The fairway is essentially a peninsula. A decent drive will leave you with an attack iron. The 8th is a long par three with water right and rear and bunkers right front and rear left. The front ends with a straightaway par five with water all the way down the right side. There is a deep greenside bunker right, thus the left side provides the best approach.
The back starts with a birdie oppty. A short par four, consider laying up as there is a large fairway bunker on the right side. The 11th is a tough hole. Fairway bunkers both sides and water right. The approach is a forced carry to a green that is surrounded by bunkers. The 12th is a mid-length par three. The green juts out into the right water hazard and there are two bunkers left. The 13th is a great risk/reward par five that bends right with a water carry and water all the way down the right side. Ideal line is the right edge of the left bunker. This is an extremely reachable green. The 14th is a mid-length par three with a wide but very shallow green with a bunker in front. The last par five meanders left. Favor the left side off the tee to take the right fairway bunker out of play. For your second shot favor the right side to take the left fairway bunkers out. The 7th is a long straightaway par four. A waste bunker runs the entire right side up to the green. Number one handicap hole. The 8th is another long tough par four. Water carry and if you are center right off the tee another water carry to a green that has two large bunkers front. The last hole is a long water carry par three to a table top green. Yikes!
Good course that I would pay to play again.