I lived five glorious years of my life in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina...often affectionally known as "The Golf Capitol of the World." As far as golfing goes, the community certainly lives up to the hype, with almost 100 golf courses, most of which are of great design and in pristine condition, in such a small area. There's plenty of golf shops in the area, including the PGA Tour Superstore (if you like golf, you MUST check out one of these stores if they are nearby) and Golf Dimensions. For the most part, it's a golfer's paradise as it's a community that caters to golfers in so many ways. I usually get asked what courses I suggest somebody should play. With the spring season coming up, here's my suggestions.
But before I go on, here's some simple tips for enjoying your stay in Myrtle:
1. Typically the best way to find the best deal is to call a few days before and make a team time. Problem is that you really can't do this in the spring since almost every course will be booked (that may be different in 2009 with the problems with the economy). But in the winter season (usually mid December to February 1st) and the summer season (Memorial Day to Labor day) you can just call up and get a better deal than you would out of some sort of golf package. The fall season (Labor Day to mid December) is a bit trickier. It's the second busiest season of the year in Myrtle, but if you're a single or a double, you should be able to call up and get a tee time at a good price. I really believe that September is the best time to golf in Myrtle as the weather is perfect, but still warm enough to go swimming and enjoy the night life, it's less busy and you can usually just call up and get your tee time. However, there's always the threat of hurricane season.
2. Know your group. If your golfing in a group that you know is going to Myrtle pretty much just to play golf...then feel free to schedule a morning tee time and perhaps you'll get a replay round in. However, if your group is planning to hit some of the bars and strip clubs, you better schedule an afternoon tee time because it's almost a guarantee that somebody in the group will be too hungover to play and they'll still get charged for the round of golf (most courses have a 48-72 hour cancellation time). This usually ruins the trip as somebody is going to be none to happy that they just got charged for not even playing golf.
3. Try and rent a condo or some place with a kitchen. Unless you have no problem with affording going out to eat every time, it gets expensive. Between eating breakfast, then lunch, then tipping the bag drop, then going out for dinner, it really adds up. Hell, if you just go out for dinner 3 times instead of 5 times you'll save some nice cabbage and you can then use that money for a replay or to buy some more golf balls or whatever. A lot of people have no problem paying for going out, but I have ran into countless tourists who go to Myrtle for their first time and love it, but realize that eating out cost them a bundle and the next time they go they make sure they rent a place with a kitchen and stove so they can cook some of their own meals.
4. Have fun. You're not trying to qualify for the US Open and even if you're playing poorly, this sure beats the hell out of working. So enjoy yourself.
Anyway, here's my top 1-5 (5-10 will be in part II of my post) suggested golf courses:
1. The Wizard (http://www.mysticalgolf.com/) - West Myrtle Beach
The Wizard tops my list not because I think it's the greatest course in Myrtle Beach since it's far from that. But I firmly believe this is a course that golfers should schedule to play first in their trip. It's a links style course that's always in impeccable condition. It's a solid design, but it's wide open so you can bust out the driver and for many who haven't swung a club in months, it's just a good confidence builder. The company who owns the Wizard also owns Man O'War which is adjascent to the Wizard and the Witch that's about 5 minutes away. I believe you can play the Wizard and then get a replay at Man O'War and the Witch if you desire. Out of the three courses, the Witch is the best of the bunch and Man O'War is probably the second best, but all 3 courses are some of the best conditioned courses on the Strand. However, as a confidence builder that's still a pretty good course and is in good condition, I don't think anything beats the Wizard.
2. Caledonia Golf and Fish Club (Pawleys Island)
I used to work at Caledonia, but I can safely say without any bias that it's a top 3 golf course on the Strand. And I have honestly had golfers who have played Pebble Beach say they preferred Caledonia over Pebble Beach. Now, I'm inclined to disagree with them, but that's what I've been told. It's not very long, only about 6,500 from the tips...but it's about all the 6,500 yards you can handle.
3. True Blue (Pawleys Island)
I'm not a fan of True Blue, but the last I played there was ten years ago and I heard they made a lot of changes in order to make the course more enjoyable. True Blue is a very polarizing course...either golfers absolutely adore it or detest it.
4. The Dunes Golf and Beach Club (Myrtle Beach)
Not to be confused with the Grand Dunes Golf Club (which I hear is great). The Dunes Club is a more of a traditional style golf course and is probably the best conditioned course on the Strand. It used to be the site of the Senior Tour Championship. For my money, it's the best course on the Grand Strand. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kL8urWnWz6A)
5. World Tour (Myrtle Beach)
World Tour is a brilliant concept that has been well executed. Instead of having an architect design their own original golf course, World Tour is a 27 hole course where each hole is "patterned" after a famous golf hole. For instance, World Tour has its very own Amen Corner and #18 at Bay Hill. However, great ideas lose their luster without proper execution. But there's no worries here as World Tour is in tremendous condition and the service is superb. The only problem with World Tour is if you're expecting an exact replica of these famous holes you're bound to be disappointed. The lack of hilly topography from the beach area alone is not going to lend way to the elevation changes that many of these famous holes have. But nonetheless, it's still an excellent golf course. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WJvR6-F0FE)
Up next, Part II