Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, often dubbed a vacationer's haven, boasts an impressive number of golf courses — a staggering 90, to be exact.
If you've ever wondered why this coastal city is a magnet for golf enthusiasts, you're in the right place.
Dive into this article for a comprehensive look into Myrtle Beach's rich golfing tapestry.
History of Golf in Myrtle Beach
Nestled on South Carolina's sun-kissed coastline, Myrtle Beach wasn't always synonymous with golf.
Its transformation from a humble seaside town to a golfing Mecca is a tale worth recounting for every aficionado of the sport.
Let's embark on a journey through time, tracing the roots of golf in this picturesque locale.
How golf became a popular sport in the region
The initial seeds of golf in Myrtle Beach can be traced back to the early 20th century.
While golf had already taken root in other parts of the country, Myrtle Beach remained an untapped canvas, primarily recognized for its sandy shores and fishing villages.
In the late 1920s and early '30s, a few pioneering developers recognized the potential of Myrtle Beach's unique topography—flat terrains, sandy soil, and scenic coastal stretches—as ideal for golf courses.
The Ocean Forest Hotel, opened in 1930, was home to the area's first championship golf course.
This course didn't just offer a game; it offered an experience, with players teeing off beside the majestic Atlantic.
Word quickly spread about this new golfing destination.
As more visitors trickled in, seeking both beach relaxation and golfing thrills, the local businesses realized the lucrative potential of the sport.
Golf began to be seen not just as a game, but as an opportunity—a chance to transform the economic fabric of the region.
Evolution of golf courses over the decades
The 1940s to 1960s: The post-war era saw a boom in golf's popularity nationwide, and Myrtle Beach was no exception.
The number of courses began to multiply, with designs becoming more innovative and challenging.
The Dunes Club, which opened in 1948, was particularly notable.
With its intricate design by the famed Robert Trent Jones and its incorporation of the natural sand dunes, it set a new standard for golf courses in the region.
The 1970s to 1990s: This period marked a renaissance for Myrtle Beach golf.
Not only did the number of courses grow, but so did the diversity in design.
Architects like Pete Dye and Tom Fazio left their indelible marks on the landscape.
Courses began to vary, from the traditional parkland layouts to Scottish-inspired links courses.
The introduction of condo-style accommodations in the '80s further fueled golf tourism, offering packages that combined stay-and-play, making golf vacations more accessible and attractive.
2000s to Present: Today, Myrtle Beach isn't just a golfing destination; it's an institution.
Golf courses have continued to evolve, integrating modern technology and environmentally friendly practices.
There's been a conscious effort to make the sport more inclusive, with courses catering to both seasoned players and novices.
The proliferation of golf schools and training centers in the region showcases the commitment to nurturing the next generation of golfers.
The Magnitude: 90 Golf Courses Explained
90 golf courses – that's no small feat for any city.
In Myrtle Beach, each course is a testament to the region's undying love for the sport.
But what's behind this impressive number? Let's delve into the variety and significance of these courses and the events that showcase the city's golfing prowess.
A quick breakdown: public vs. private courses
Public Courses: Myrtle Beach's public courses are the city's way of extending a warm invitation to golfers of all stripes. They epitomize the city's democratic approach to the sport. Here's what they offer:
- Accessibility: Most public courses operate on a pay-as-you-play model, making them accessible to tourists and locals alike without the need for a membership.
- Diversity: From the beginner-friendly courses to the expert-level terrains, there's something for everyone. Some notable public courses include the Grande Dunes Resort Club and Tidewater Golf Club.
- Affordability: Many of these courses offer discounted rates during off-peak times, allowing golfers to enjoy a world-class experience without breaking the bank.
Private Courses: The private golf clubs of Myrtle Beach are where exclusivity meets excellence. They offer:
- Membership Benefits: While these courses are often limited to members, the perks include priority tee times, access to elite club amenities, and regular social events.
- Prestige: Clubs like the Dunes Golf & Beach Club or the Surf Golf & Beach Club carry with them a certain cachet, offering immaculately maintained courses and high-end facilities.
- Privacy: With fewer players, these courses tend to be less crowded, providing a serene golfing environment.
Prominent golf tournaments or events held in Myrtle Beach
Over the years, Myrtle Beach has hosted a slew of golf tournaments, further establishing its reputation as a golfing hub. Here are some of the standouts:
- Myrtle Beach World Amateur: Known as the largest amateur golf tournament globally, this event typically sees over 3,000 participants. Golfers from various skill levels compete across different flights, making it a true celebration of the sport's diversity.
- Monday After The Masters: Founded by Hootie & the Blowfish, this celebrity pro-am event is one of the most anticipated golfing events in the city. Besides the sport, it offers entertainment, music, and a chance to spot some celebrities.
- Palmetto High School Golf Championship: Recognizing the importance of nurturing young talent, this event is one of the largest high school golf tournaments in the U.S. Schools from various states converge in Myrtle Beach to showcase their skills.
- The Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship: Hosted by PGA TOUR winner Dustin Johnson, this tournament brings together the best junior golfers worldwide, promoting the sport among the younger generation.
Top Rated Golf Courses in Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach's reputation as a golf haven isn't just built on quantity, but also quality.
Home to some of the country's most acclaimed courses, it's where the discerning golfer finds both challenge and charm.
Let's shine a spotlight on the crème de la crème of Myrtle Beach's golf courses and hear what players have to say.
A list of some standout courses and what makes them unique
- The Dunes Golf & Beach Club: Designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, The Dunes boasts a rich history and an iconic design. Its 13th hole, aptly named “Waterloo,” offers a dramatic dogleg around Lake Singleton, challenging even seasoned players.
- Caledonia Golf & Fish Club: A Mike Strantz masterpiece, Caledonia is built on a former rice plantation. Its antebellum-style clubhouse and scenic surroundings blend the old-world charm with modern golfing excellence.
- Barefoot Resort – Love Course: A design by Davis Love III, this course showcases recreated ruins of an old plantation home on some holes, merging history with the sport.
- Tidewater Golf Club: Perched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, Tidewater offers mesmerizing views on every hole, especially the par-three 12th which looks over the marsh and Cherry Grove.
- Grande Dunes Resort Club: With its expansive vistas of the Intracoastal Waterway, this course is a testament to modern golf design. It offers a mix of challenging holes and forgiving fairways, suitable for players of all levels.
What golfers generally say about these top courses
- The Dunes Golf & Beach Club: Golfers often rave about its challenging yet fair layout. The “Waterloo” hole is frequently mentioned in reviews as an unforgettable experience, with many describing it as a “must-play” for any serious golfer.
- Caledonia Golf & Fish Club: Players laud the course's immaculate condition and its harmonious blend with nature. The welcoming atmosphere, from the bag-drop to the 19th hole, often receives special mention. Many regard their round here as “more than just golf, but an experience.”
- Barefoot Resort – Love Course: The architectural ruins are a consistent highlight for golfers. Reviews often point out the course's versatility, offering both challenge for low handicappers and enjoyment for casual players.
- Tidewater Golf Club: Players can't get enough of the views. Many reviews highlight the aesthetic appeal of Tidewater, with some golfers admitting to being distracted by the breathtaking sights around them. The course's strategic design also earns it high praise.
- Grande Dunes Resort Club: Golfers appreciate its modern design, which is both playable for the average golfer and challenging enough for the seasoned pro. The elevation changes, especially on the back nine, are often noted for adding an exciting dimension to the game.
Golfing Amenities and Services in the Region
Myrtle Beach's commitment to golf extends beyond the fairways and greens.
The city, recognizing the diverse needs of its golfing community, offers a plethora of amenities and services that cater to beginners, pros, and every golfer in between.
Whether you're looking to refine your swing, gear up for your next game, or immerse yourself in all things golf, Myrtle Beach has you covered.
Golf academies and training centers
Myrtle Beach is a golfer's classroom, equipped with some of the best training centers and academies in the country. Here's what's on offer:
- Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy: Established by the ‘Great White Shark' himself, this academy is known for its cutting-edge training methodologies. Offering programs for all ages and levels, the academy emphasizes both physical training and mental preparation.
- Classic Swing Golf School: Recognized consistently as one of the top golf schools in the nation, Classic Swing prioritizes personalized instruction. With a low student-to-instructor ratio, every golfer gets the focused attention they deserve.
- Steve Dresser Golf Academy: Tailored programs, high-tech equipment, and seasoned instructors combine to make this academy a top pick for many. Their holistic approach ensures golfers not only improve technique but also understand the underlying mechanics.
- Mel Sole Golf School: With over three decades in operation, Mel Sole's academy stands out for its unique approach, blending traditional methods with innovative techniques. Offering a range of programs, from one-day tune-ups to three-day intensive courses, there's something for everyone.
Pro shops, equipment rentals, and other golf-related services
Whether you're looking to splurge on the latest gear, rent top-notch equipment for a game, or simply need golf-related advice, Myrtle Beach's extensive range of services has got your back:
- Pro Shops: Almost every golf course in Myrtle Beach houses a pro shop, stocked with the latest equipment, apparel, and accessories. Brands from Titleist to TaylorMade, Callaway to Cobra, you'll find it all. Staff are usually seasoned golfers themselves, ready to offer advice or insights.
- Equipment Rentals: For those who'd rather not lug their clubs around or are looking to try out new gear, many courses offer rental services. These usually include the latest models of clubs, ensuring golfers get a top-tier experience without the commitment of a purchase.
- Custom Fitting Centers: Centers like the PGA TOUR Superstore offer custom fitting services. Using state-of-the-art technology, experts analyze your swing and recommend the perfect set of clubs tailored to your game.
- Golf Cart Rentals: Navigate the expansive courses with ease. Golf cart rentals are available at almost every course, with some even offering GPS-enabled carts for a seamless golfing experience.
- Caddy Services: A few premier courses in Myrtle Beach offer caddy services, ensuring you get strategic insights into the course, assistance with club selection, and, of course, someone to celebrate your birdies with!
Planning Your Golf Trip to Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach beckons golf enthusiasts from all over the world, but the allure of this coastal city extends beyond its greens.
If you're considering a golf getaway to this iconic destination, here's a blueprint to help you get the most out of your trip, both on and off the course.
Tips for tourists: best time to visit, booking in advance, etc.
- Best Time to Visit: The peak golf season in Myrtle Beach is spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). These months offer comfortable temperatures and impeccable course conditions. While summer can be warm and a bit more crowded, the advantage is extended daylight for longer play.
- Booking in Advance: Due to its popularity, it's advisable to book your tee times and accommodation well in advance, especially if visiting during peak season. Many courses offer discounts for early bookings, so it's worth planning ahead.
- Stay and Play Packages: Several resorts and hotels offer “stay and play” packages, bundling accommodation with reserved tee times at nearby courses. These can offer significant savings and convenience.
- Transportation: While Myrtle Beach is accessible by air, many tourists opt to drive, especially if they're bringing their own golf equipment. If flying, consider renting a car for the flexibility to explore various courses and local attractions.
- Local Golf Passes: If you're keen on playing multiple rounds or exploring various courses, look into local golf passes or cards which can provide discounts and exclusive access.
Recommendations for non-golfing activities and sights to see in the area
Myrtle Beach isn't just a paradise for golfers; it's a haven for vacationers in general. Here are some top non-golfing activities:
- Beach Days: Naturally, Myrtle Beach's coastline is a major draw. Enjoy the sun, surf, and sand at spots like North Myrtle Beach, Cherry Grove, and Surfside Beach.
- The Boardwalk: A hub of activity, the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is lined with restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. The SkyWheel, a 187-foot tall Ferris wheel, offers panoramic views of the city.
- Brookgreen Gardens: Spanning 9,100 acres, this garden and wildlife preserve offers a mix of art, history, and nature. It's a tranquil retreat from the buzz of the city.
- Broadway at the Beach: This entertainment complex is a one-stop destination with shops, eateries, theaters, and attractions like Ripley's Aquarium and WonderWorks.
- Deep-Sea Fishing: Venture into the Atlantic for some deep-sea fishing. Local charters offer trips ranging from half-day excursions to overnight adventures.
- Local Cuisine: Dive into the local culinary scene, especially the seafood. Hotspots include Mr. Fish, The Sea Captain's House, and Hook & Barrel.
- Live Entertainment: From the Carolina Opry's musical showcases to the Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show, Myrtle Beach is brimming with entertainment options for evenings after your rounds.
Myrtle Beach, with its sprawling golf courses and vibrant city life, offers an unparalleled experience for both the avid golfer and the general vacationer.
Whether you're chasing the perfect swing or simply a memorable getaway, this coastal gem ensures every visitor leaves with cherished memories.
So, pack those clubs, soak in the sun, and tee off for an adventure like no other.