“You could spend a lifetime playing golf in South Carolina…and you’d never get bored.’’ That quote is from the website of a leading Canadian golf tour operator.
“The Myrtle Beach area,’’ it goes on to say, “is known by many as The Golf Capital of the World. More than a million golfers play there each year, on a 100-kilometre stretch of coastline known as The Grand Strand.’’
With 102 public access courses, including seven of Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, this is truly a golf smorgasbord.
Golfers can tee off on beautiful oceanfront holes or amid giant live oaks draped in Spanish moss on a former colonial rice plantation.
Myrtle Beach Area CVBPine Lakes International Country Club is called “The Grandaddy” because it’s the area’s oldest. The 27 holes at International World Tour Golf Links were inspired by some of the world’s most famous layouts, including Augusta National and St. Andrews. Then there’s the replica of ruins from an antebellum plantation house that Davis Love III included in his course, one of four at Barefoot Resort and Golf Club, a 920-hectare development along the Intracoastal Waterway.
“For an enchanting golf experience players need to play Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawley’s Island, just south of Myrtle Beach,” says Phil Werz of GolfHoliday.com. “The Mike Strantz-designed course is rated among the Top 30 golf courses in the United States.”
Course designers have taken great pains to protect the natural habitat and wildlife indigenous to the area while creating courses that are technically challenging and beautiful. World-renowned architects like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Robert Trent Jones, Davis Love III, Tom Fazio, Greg Norman, Gary Player, Pete and P.B. Dye and Mike Strantz have all put their stamp on local layouts.
There are other reasons why more than four million rounds of golf are played there every year.
• The majority of the courses are open to the public.
• Nearly one-third are rated four stars or higher in Golf Digest’s “Places to Play”, the most comprehensive information resource for public golf courses in North America.
According to “Places to Play”, the Myrtle Beach area is home to 47 courses that received at least a four-star ranking. Just as impressively, 27 courses earned a 4.5-star ranking and TPC of Myrtle Beach received the Grand Strand’s only 5-star ranking. The Myrtle Beach area was also home of one of only three 5-star courses in the south. Four stars means “Outstanding. Plan your next vacation around it.” Five stars means “Golf at its absolute best. Pay any price to play at least once in your life.”
Myrtle Beach Area CVBMyrtle Beach Golf Holiday, a not-for-profit organization, promotes golf vacations and golf events. It includes nearly 100 Grand Strand golf courses and resorts. Getting quotes is easy. Visit www.GolfHoliday.com, and click on Myrtle Beach Golf Holidays. Type in your arrival and departure dates, plus the type of accommodation preferred and the type of course (public, private, semiprivate). Bear in mind that the peak periods for golf are September through November and March through April. Golf is cheapest December through January and May through August.
Myrtle Beach Area CVBAlmost 80 resorts offer golf packages, with rates commensurate with the season.
For example, golfers staying at the Hampton Inn & Suites Oceanfront will see room rates starting as low at $45 per person, per night for an oceanfront room with two double beds.
Condo-style accommodations are also available throughout the area and many, like the Hampton Inn & Suites Oceanfront, offer weekly discounts. Most resorts have a golf director on staff to help guests, and some give bad-weather refunds. Many courses have “Kids Play Free” programs during the summer.
There are five golf schools in the area, with packages ranging from one to five days. Selling points include a low student-to-teacher ratio (two advertise less than four to one) and the size of the facility’s practice area (one is more than eight hectares).
Two airlines within easy reach of golfers in Toronto and Southern Ontario fly non-stop to Myrtle Beach. Porter Airlines introduced a new, seasonal service to Myrtle Beach between February and May, 2010 with expectations that this service will run in 2011. Direct Air flies year round from Niagara Falls, NY and from Plattsburgh, NY to Myrtle Beach offering special fares and promotions on a continuous basis to Canadians.
There are plenty of opportunities for average golfers to watch golf heroes of today and tomorrow. Check your calendar then join the gallery at one of the tournaments. The Masters Hootie and the Blowfish Celebrity Pro-Am is fun to watch and proceeds go to numerous charities supported by the South Carolina band’s foundation.
Or test your skills in one of the amateur competitions. The GOLF.com World Amateur Handicap Championship, held for 27 years attracted more than 3,100 golfers this year and was played on 55 courses. The entry fee is less than $600, and includes four rounds of golf on four courses (with cart) and four evenings of dinner, drinks and entertainment. There are matched handicap flights for men, senior men, mid-senior men, super-senior men, women and senior women, and more than $200,000 in prizes.
Family Golf Tournament: During the summer months, Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday sponsors Family Golf Tournaments at various courses. Three specialized fields include the Veterans Golf Classic, for active members of the service or veterans and their families; FDNY Memorial Golf Outing, for firefighters; and National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Golf Classic.
Father & Son Team Challenge: The annual Father & Son Team Challenge attracts nearly 1,600 participants to compete in various categories for three days of golf. Fathers and sons, grandfathers and grandsons, uncles and nephews, stepfathers and stepsons are all welcome.
Myrtle Beach Area CVBWhat’s New
On November 7, 1996, Pine Lakes Country Club was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its historical significance and landscape architecture. Ten years later, Pine Lakes closed to begin an extensive, multi-million-dollar project to restore the course and clubhouse to its 1927 glory days when it was known as the Ocean Forest Hotel and Country Club, one of the most desired vacation spots for the wealthiest families of the early 20th-century United States. The ongoing renovation project includes work on the golf course and clubhouse, which both reopened in 2009. Nationally recognized golf course restoration architect Craig Schreiner is committed to restoring Pine Lakes to the original course designs with many improvements to enhance playability and enjoyment for golfers of all skill levels.
For more information, visit www.VisitMyrtleBeach.ca