If you are a serious golfer, you have to tick Myrtle Beach off your list of “have to play before I die” destinations.
A number of years ago I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of having lunch with Mr. Clay Brittain Jr. at his Sea Captain’s House Restaurant. Mr. Brittain is one of the “fathers of golf” for Myrtle Beach. In 1967, he co-founded Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, a marketing co-operative developed to promote golf in the Myrtle Beach area and in 1971 he founded the Myrtle Beach National Company now owns three resorts and six golf courses and all as manages another five more.
Clay told me that Myrtle Beach has not always been associated with golf. Forty years ago Myrtle Beach was little more than a sleepy beach town that was a regional destination, traditionally busiest during the summer, when thousands of families flocked to the beach.
Golf was really an offshoot to help increase occupancy and entice visitors to the area during the slower spring and fall shoulder months. But all that has changed! Over the years, Myrtle Beach has transformed itself into a world leader in providing variety, value and challenge for even the most discriminating of golfers. Today, the area is home to almost 100 courses and has become one of the world’s most popular golf destinations.
Here is my top “FORE” reasons why you should pick Myrtle Beach for your next golf vacation:
1. The Golf
Wow! Where do I start? Did you know that ten of the Grand Strand courses were named at one point in Golf Digest’s “America’s Top 100 Greatest Public Courses”. On this prestigious list is The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation, Heritage Club, Davis Love III’s Barefoot Resort, River’s Edge, TPC of Myrtle Beach, Tiger’s Eye, King’s North at Myrtle Beach National, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue and Tom Fazio’s course at Barefoot Resort.
Bill Golden, President for Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday said that “No other golf destination in the world has the quality and quantity of public golf courses that Myrtle Beach has to offer.”
Over 45 years ago, Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday pioneered the idea of golf packaging by convincing local golf courses and hoteliers to work together to promote the Myrtle Beach area as a premier golf destination. There are a number of golf package providers and you can find their information at www.GolfHoliday.com.
2. The Diversity
The Grand Strand stretches 60 miles from Georgetown, S.C. in the south to Southport, N.C. in the north. With such a vast region, there are plenty options for travelers to consider depending on their individual holiday requirements. Recent estimates put the number of guest accommodations in the Grand Strand area at upwards of 90,000. With more than 460 hotels plus everything from motels and inns to house rentals and condominiums, there is something for every budget and taste. To help simplify your travel plans, let me breakdown the area into four distinct regions.
South Strand is more of a laid-back experience, away from the “hustle and bustle” feel of Myrtle Beach. This area encompasses Pawley’s Islands, Litchfield Beach, Murrells Inlet, Garden City and Surfside Beach and boasts the largest concentration of high-end golf courses, accommodations and restaurants in the Grand Strand. Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue Plantation, Pawleys Plantation, Willbrook Golf Plantation, TPC of Myrtle Beach and The Heritage Club are all located within 15 minutes of each other.
Central Myrtle Beach is the “heartbeat” of the Grand Strand with the greatest concentration of high-rise oceanfront accommodations along the famous Ocean Boulevard. Since it is centrally located it offers convenient access to golf courses while providing easy access to the area’s beaches, shopping and bustling nightlife. The Dunes Club, Pine Lakes, King’s North Course and Grande Dunes are just a few of the magnificent golf courses that are within easy driving distance.
North Myrtle Beach exemplifies the Grand Strand with a pleasant combination of a historic seaside resort and fishing village interspersed with new condo/hotel developments. You can find everything from quaint beach cottages to spacious golf villas to modern upscale luxury suites. There are numerous golf courses to choose from including Barefoot Resort, The Long Bay Club, Thistle Golf Club and Tidewater Golf Club and Plantation.
The Brunswick Isles of North Carolina is just north of the state line and includes the quaint towns of Calabash and Shallotte. Here you will find a quieter environment with many all-inclusive golf resorts and single-family dwellings in a rural countryside setting. The many golf options available include Oyster Bay, Sea Trails Resort, Brunswick Plantation, Tiger’s Eye, Lion’s Paw, Panther’s Run and Sandpiper Bay.
3. Dining and Entertainment
The Grand Strand is a 60-mile stretch of pristine beaches where over 15 million people visit Myrtle Beach annually and it’s no wonder why. There are more than 1,650 full service restaurants to choose from and making a decision may be the toughest task you will face while visiting the Grand Strand. While there is a fair share of franchise establishments, there are many more unique local restaurants that will definitely tempt your culinary taste buds. Seafood is of course a local specialty and nowhere is it more prevalent than on Restaurant Row in North Myrtle Beach.
If night-time entertainment is in the cards then you’ve come to right place. This “Las Vegas” style destination offers everything from the House of Blues, Dolly Parton’s Pirates Voyage Dinner Show, Magic Quest, Alabama Theatre and The Palace Theatre. For the kids, there’s Nascar Speedpark, Ripley’s Aquarium and of course the numerous array of wave parks and mini-putt courses.
4. Ease of Access
Getting to the Grand Strand by air has never been easier as eight airlines are now offering non-stop air service to and from Myrtle Beach International (MBI) from 12 cities and the a new airport terminal has been opened to handle all the new traffic. As well, a new Interstate 73 connection between I-95 and the Grand Strand is expected to open which will help alleviate congestion on Highway 501.
With easy access by plane or car and the best golf in the world, now is the time to plan and book your next dream vacation – Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand awaits!
By Dave Finn (dave @ golfinn.com)