From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:
In the mid-1980s, I was researching a Golf Digest article on reversible golf courses, and one of the people I called was real estate developer Wallace Pate, who had laid out a reversible 10-hole course for his beach home development at DeBordieu Colony Club (pronounced "debby doo") in Georgetown, S.C., south of Myrtle Beach.
"You've called too late," Pate told me. He had sold the course the year before, and Pete Dye was at that moment in the midst of replacing it with a conventional 18-hole course to be called DeBordieu Golf Club.
When I visited the Grand Strand in the spring of 1987, I stopped by DeBordieu to see the newly finished Dye design and played the course with Dan Avant, the new owner, who was the perfect tour guide.
Pate had actually laid out an 18-hole reversible course within his land plan, Avant explained, but had only been able to construct 10 greens. Dye was more or less limited to Pate's routing because the corridors were positioned between plotted home lots, but he was not necessarily restricted to Pate's green sites.
Avant also told me that Pete had turned over most of the design and construction responsibility to his younger son, P.B., and when Pete played the reversible course with Wallace Pate as a partner in a press outing, they found P.B. already on a bulldozer carving up a hole at the far end of the property.
In retrospect, I'm certain that Pete kept P.B. on a short leash, because DeBordieu is certainly one of the more mild creations from the Dye family, nothing at all like some of P.B.'s later outlandish work.
Located less than quarter-mile from Atlantic Ocean, it plays over sandy, rolling terrain lined with moss-covered oaks, majestic pines and palmettos. Dark lagoons edge most of the holes. A few were on the original reversible plan—LaBruce Pond and Teal Pond along the closing two holes, in particular—but P.B. excavated the other ponds to generate fill for what I think he intended to be grass-covered sand dunes. But they are too symmetrical for my tastes, so I just consider them accent mounds.
The biggest of those knobs sits behind the green on the par-3 fourth, a classic Dye hole over water and a wooden bulkhead—with the tee boxes for the fifth hole atop it, a good 12 feet of elevation change, quite a bit for this area.
The hole I admired the most was the par-4 12th, with a humped fairway and four random, mounded pot bunkers posing a semi-blind approach to a green backdropped by water and a beach bunker.
I was a little disappointed with the 17th and 18th, as they both play in the same direction with same basic strategy: Aim up the left side for a decent angle into the green. The 18th, a short par 5, struck me as the mirror image of the 18th at Harbour Town, with a 100-yard-wide peninsula fairway poking into water.
I finally returned to DeBordieu 30 years later and found it remarkably well-preserved. A few trees were gone (I don't remember such a clear view of the lagoon to the right of the second, for instance) and somebody had positioned fan-shaped railroad ties into the faces of some bunkers, I guess to remind us this is a Pete Dye design. (I think that was done by Myrtle Beach architect Craig Schreiner, who has been the club's consulting designer in recent years.) But overall, DeBordieu hasn't changed much at all.
If someone were to tell me that they dislike Pete Dye's architecture because it's too penal, I'd send them to DeBordieu. It's lovely and low-profile, generous off the tees, doesn't have a harsh bounce anywhere and is extremely playable.