The Reserve Golf Club

by Brad King

 Mar 30, 2017 at 7:23 PM

Stay and play in pristine Pawleys Island

In 2010, McConnell Golf made its then-sixth club acquisition, The Reserve Golf Club on Pawleys Island, S.C., for several different reasons. First, The Reserve offered McConnell Golf members an outstanding design by the legendary Greg Norman — providing a prominent new face in the enviable stable of McConnell Golf architects. Equally important, the 700-acre private gated Litchfield community is a popular beach vacation destination where many McConnell Golf members already owned second homes. For McConnell Golf, The Reserve was a natural fit.

Little wonder why folks are enchanted by this serene coastal escape. A narrow barrier island less than four miles long nestled between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic Ocean on Myrtle Beach’s South Strand, Pawleys Island is one of the oldest resorts on the East Coast, having served as the summer home to wealthy antebellum rice planters, who retreated to the island to escape the heat. The island’s slower pace and laid-back lifestyle encourage leisurely hours in hammocks with views across the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Residents and visitors alike proudly call Pawleys Island “arrogantly shabby,” reveling in its simplicity and natural beauty.

In 1998, Greg Norman chose Pawleys Island to make his first mark in the Carolinas as a golf course architect. On 350 pristine acres walled in by the longleaf pines and hardwoods of the Waccamaw Neck, “The Shark” crafted a minimalist masterpiece, adorned by waste bunkers, native grasses, white sand stacked sod-walled bunkers, which provide a stunning contrast to the flat, brown sand waste areas and flawless green complexes that are enormous and crowned in places. There is no semblance of rough on the golf course. Since opening, The Reserve has garnered numerous state and national rankings.

“My ultimate goal (at the Reserve Club) wasn’t to create an extremely difficult course, just one that’s very challenging,” says Norman, who won more than 90 tournaments worldwide including two British Open Championships and claims the distinction of having held the No. 1 position in the world rankings for 331 consecutive weeks. “While you don’t have to hit it straight every hole, you always have to think straight.” 

When McConnell Golf purchased The Reserve, it converted the green complexes from Penn G-2 bentgrass — a cost-prohibitive, cool weather grass that fights the summer heat — to Champions ultra dwarf Bermuda. McConnell also spruced up the extensive fairway, waste, and greenside bunkering with new feldspar sand, the same type used at Augusta National Golf Club, site of The Masters. The Reserve also features one of the widest practice ranges at the beach, a short game area with a practice bunker and a true-rolling practice green. The result? In 2014, The Reserve was voted South Carolina’s “Club of the Year.”

The Reserve has hosted several championships, including the 1999 South Carolina Open, 2001-02 Carolinas Opens, 2003-05 Carolinas PGA Section Championships, 2014 South Carolina Amateur, 2012 S.C. Senior Championship, 2016 Carolinas Women’s Amateur, and a U.S. Open qualifier in 2000. In April, The Reserve will play host to the ACC Women’s Golf Championship.

Read More

Experience of a Lifetime

by Jessie Ammons

 Aug 01, 2016 at 9:40 PM

As we ramp up for the Wyndham Championship, members recount their most memorable PGA tournament moments

"Rick and I were USGA marshals at the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club (pictured at right). At that time, tournament marshals walked inside the ropes, and it was a thrill for both of us. Since then, Rick became a USGA Rules Official and Competition Committee member.

Golf is the cornerstone of our philanthropy and we both serve on the Executive Committee of the SCGA and SCJGA, respectively.

Play Golf America!”

— Ellen and Rick Miller, The Reserve Golf Club

Read More

Happy Trails

by Matt McConnell

 Apr 14, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Being a McConnell Golf “concierge” is one of my favorite jobs. I love arranging for our members to play golf at one of their sister properties, especially our destination courses and even more so if they’ve never experienced the course. I always recommend Musgrove Mill for the “guys golf getaways” and Old North State for couples retreats. Now that McConnell Golf members have access to the Grande Dunes Members Club and Ocean Club, I’m always going to recommend a trip to the Grand Strand for the whole family.  

Starting at the southern tip of the Grand Strand, McConnell Golf ’s Reserve Golf Club is located in one of the oldest resort areas on the east coast - the relaxing Pawleys Island, SC. Like Pawleys Island, The Reserve Golf Club feels as if it has always been there. Surrounded by protected conservation areas, this 350 acre track embraces 160 acres of natural wetlands with wooden bridges and a minimal number of cart paths linking each secluded hole. With very few homes on the course, I strongly consider The Reserve a private sanctuary. Not only is it the fifth-ranked golf course on the Grand Strand, but it is home to alligators, deer, turkeys, foxes & funny looking squirrels with big tails that look like raccoons. Famed PGA golfer and designer of The Reserve’s course, Greg Norman once said, “My philosophy on golf course design is simple, I like to work with nature, not against it...using the site’s intrinsic features to determine what goes where.” The Shark certainly accomplished this when he created The Reserve Golf Club.  

Besides golf, families can enjoy The Reserve for much more from fine dining experiences to large events such as The Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Art. With great beaches and vacation amenities close by in Pawleys Island, the overall quality of family fun is great for our members who travel to The Reserve Golf Club. Now that McConnell Golf manages The Grande Dune’s private facilities in Myrtle Beach, the family fun continues on the northern end of the Strand. With this new partnership with owners LStar Management, McConnell Golf members are invited to enjoy access to the beautiful Grande Dunes Members Club.  

The Members Club features a championship golf course designed by PGA Hall of Fame golfer Nick Price and award winning architect Craig Schreiner. With wide generous fairways, this beautiful golf course plays throughout the area’s natural pine preserves and along the Intracoastal Waterway. Ranked as one of the “50 Best Golf Courses in South Carolina,” The Members Course at Grande Dunes adds incredible value to a McConnell Golf membership.

When McConnell Golf first started to expand, we always knew the potential value of adding a beach course to our portfolio of golf courses. In 2010, members could finally smell the beach when The Reserve Golf Club became the 6th McConnell Golf Property. Now that our members have access to Grande Dunes, family fun stretches across the Grand Strand.

Read More

Got Bermuda?

by Michael Shoun

 Aug 01, 2012 at 4:20 PM


Over the last several years many golf courses in the transitional zone have converted their greens from a cool season Bentgrass to a warm season dwarf Bermudagrass. Two courses within our McConnell Golf family have followed that trend. The Reserve at Pawley’s Island changed over two years ago, and Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro is near completion of their greens conversion. There are many advantages to using these new dwarf Bermudagrasses in this region, and I hope to shed some light on why this is becoming the hottest grass for greens in the Carolinas.

The leading reason for the new Bermudas’ rising popularity is that they produce an outstanding putting surface during the heavy play summer months. Studies of weather conditions and growth habit have proven Bermudagrass yields better quality greens for about 30 more days a year than Bentgrass. Bermuda greens are firmer, faster and have a more consistent ball roll over a longer period than Bent. Even when Bermuda goes dormant in the winter months the firm putting surface remains.

Bermudagrasses provide other benefits. Aerification can be postponed until after the peak playing months and the greens will recover more quickly. Unlike Bent, Bermuda requires fewer chemicals to be applied to the greens surface, and hand watering greens during play on a hot summer afternoon is not necessary. With these new Bermudas there are fewer ball marks on the greens during the summer months, and greens speeds can be maintained at a more consistent level throughout the year. Even with these advantages, Bermudagrass is still a living entity; so much care will be needed to maintain a green surface. I hope at some point you get the chance to tee it up at one of our facilities with Bermudagrass greens and see how good they can be.                                  

Read More