I am at Sunset Beach several times per year and play every time I am there. My personal take on best courses when limited to Sunset Beach / Calabash area; Thistle and Leopard's Chase (1 of the 'Big Cat' courses). There are several others (still in the area) that are good and you should attempt to play them as time allows. If you limit yourself to the courses east/south of US 17 then all 3 of the Sea Trail courses are pretty good, with my preference being Jones. All of the other 3 Big Cat courses (Panther, Tiger and Lion) are worth playing. Sand Piper Bay, Oyster Bay and The Pearl are there and also worth playing. Be aware that The Pearl just closed 9 of its 36 holes (January, I think) and is now a 27-hole facility. That being said, it is worth noting that the Thistle and Sand Piper Bay are also 27-hole facilities as well. As all of the courses I just mentioned are on the beach-side of US 17, they are within 10 to 15 minute drive of the beach. If you are willing to drive up to 30 minutes, your selection is MUCH greater and this post gets much larger.