Story via thegolfbiz

Sunset Beach, N.C. – Everyone likes to uncover the hidden gem; a golf course so good the first time a group plays it the immediate reaction is, “What took us so long?”
The course that has earned that distinction in the ever-competitive Myrtle Beach market is Thistle Golf Club, a links-inspired design whose stature has quietly grown over the last five years. The 27-hole facility, which opened in 1999, has long been a favorite of locals, who have enjoyed the course’s unforgettable combination superb conditions, superior design work, and one of the most memorable clubhouses in the South.
Located just across the South Carolina line in Sunset Beach, N.C., Thistle is a 4.5-star layout, according to Golf Digest’s Best Places to Play guide. The Tim Cate design is home to three distinct nines – the Cameron, MacKay and Stewart – and greens that are among the smoothest and fastest in the region. 
The Cameron is the most open of the three nines, encouraging players to swing away with the driver but with just enough water to keep them from getting to comfortable. Cameron’s signature challenge is the par 4 second hole, a 356-yard dogleg right that provides a memorable risk-reward challenge.
Thistle Golf Club - Sunset Beach, NCThe MacKay nine is a more traditional, Carolina pine tree-lined layout, highlighted by the 526-yard (from the white tees) seventh hole. The three-shot par 5 is Cameron’s toughest challenge, requiring a pair of carries, including a daunting approach over wetlands. 
The Stewart has a true, links feel with rolling fairways framed by mounding and stacked sod bunkers surrounding the greens. It’s also home to Thistle’s most rugged stretch, holes 7 through 9, which feature a demanding par 3 sandwiched between a pair of long par 4s. 
What makes a day at Thistle memorable begins long before the first tee shot. The facility name was derived from the original Thistle Golf Club (circa 1815) in Leith, Scotland, and that history is honored throughout the property. 
The 15,600-square-foot clubhouse is home to memorabilia from the original Thistle, a nod to the facility’s heritage, that is on display in the clubhouse and it sets the tone for a day that features the best of the game’s past and present. On spring weekends, Thistle even brings in a bagpiper in to fill the air with the instrument’s melodic sounds as golfers prepare to play. 
Thistle’s rising popularity is reflected in the reviews it has received. Golf Advisor, the travel portal for Golf Channel, ranked Thistle the second-best course in America at one point in 2016, and golfers on Facebook and Trip Advisor have raved about the layout. 
In a 5-star Facebook review, Josh A wrote:
“Just finished up a round of 18 at the Thistle Golf Club … If you are anywhere near the Wilmington/Myrtle Beach area, you owe it to yourself to play a round here. ‘Perfection’ is the only word I can use to describe the whole experience.”
The praise from Trip Advisor reviewers was no less effusive. Fort Lauderdale’s Claude S., as part of a 5-star evaluation, wrote:
“The course was in excellent condition. The greens were fast and consistent. The staff was helpful and friendly. I look forward to playing here again and again. This has become one of my favorite courses in the Myrtle Beach area.”
For more information about Thistle, visit