For years people, especially those in my inner circle, went to Myrtle Beach for one reason: to pretty much golf as much as humanly possible.
Canadians have made it a habit to make the trek to the Grand Strand, the region that touches coastal North Carolina and stretches deep into South Carolina for golf trips. The spring and fall journeys help extend the golf season for northerners. The ample number of golf courses and accommodations, combined with welcoming weather, has been their ideal recipe for fun for foursome after foursome. Not to mention all manners of dining and entertainment options in this part of coastal America.
Most times golf trips have been for “the guys” although more frequently, couples and all-female groups have emerged as a growing market. A golfer is a golfer, after all.
For the rest of the world, Myrtle Beach is a vacation spot where the focus is the expansive white sand beaches. Families flock here to summer fun, frolicking on the waterfront, buzzing around mini-putt courses, or taking in the sights and sounds of downtown on a warm summer evening.
For most though, there has always been delineation between the two. I have made dozens of stops in the area, mostly to play a little golf with friends, and occasionally accompanied by my wife.
What I’d never considered (as is likely the case for others) was a blend of the two – spending time as a family unit AND getting in some time on the fairways of the 100 or so local golf haunts.
Recently I (or rather we) tried it, and it came out family approved.
You see, when it comes down to family vacations, tour operators will tell you that the biggest influence has been proven to be the female lead in the house, follow by the interests of the children. If they are content and taken care of it just makes life that much smoother.
To make it a success, however, I had to think of the trip in a whole new way than previous trips. There were family activities and golf to juggle each day. That meant finding the right home base and a schedule that worked for all.
In the end, Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach seemed like the right option. There are thousands of rooms available in the condominium towers that line the waterfront. The proximity to the beach, pool options, ample space, and restaurants and amusement stops nearby sealed the deal, at least for this trip.
That’s the great part about a place with a long history of welcoming tourists – over the years a large variety of housing options have developed as well as other amenities. The versatility of the area makes it an easy fit for almost any traveler. That included our little troupe.
For our home base at the Beach Colony Resort, Myrtle Beach was our oyster, whether we wanted to eat some at nearby spots like the Sea Captain’s house and look for shells along the sandy strip that made this place so famous.
Each day after golf it was never more than a few minutes to an attraction. Everyone scored at least one ace during the week (all at mini-putt, of course) and the nearby Broadway On The Beach entertainment complex was a regular stop. There we took in the Ripley’s Aquarium, shopped along the boardwalk, and dined heartily and with variety.
My wife was not all that enamored with the thought of a few loops on the new SkyWheel, the 47m high observation wheel that was added to the boardwalk area in 2011, but she relented for the sake of our daughter. It easily provides the best views of the area short of being in a plane.
For a slightly more “natural” outing, Brookgreen Gardens came recommended. The 9100-acre garden attraction dates back to 1932. It has been rated among the best in America and it’s combination of zoo, garden, art and more showed us why. Another great wonder of South Carolina that had passed me by over the years.
And then, of course, there was the golf. With many golf clubs in the area the biggest decision is obviously where to play. Be assured though, the courses here are used to guests – they’ll do what they can to ensure you come back. My selections for my quick morning rounds were Pawleys Plantation, True Blue Golf Plantation, Tidewater Golf Club, and my favorite in the region – Caledonia Golf & Fish Club.
How can I summarize them? Great turf conditions, interesting layouts that kept my attention between artful designs, outstanding scenery, and afterward, friendly staff to hand me a sweat tea so I could soak up the South Carolina sunshine and enjoy some time with my playing partners.
In the end it was my daughter who summarized the week. On the drive home to Canada I asked her, “Would you like to go back?” She gave me an odd look and fired her own question at me. “Who said I wanted to leave?”
Even a 9 year-old understands the attraction of Myrtle Beach, and South Carolina.
Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday
/ Scott MacLeod @flagstick