Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | If we’ve learned anything in the past year, it is that the Grand Strand golfing mecca is going to strengthen year after year. Are there temporary downturns and course closings? Sure. But the market itself is no slouch when it comes to finding new ways to improve around all the things that already make it stand out for a couple million rounds annually. Incremental change and the ability to steady itself after the seemingly unforeseeable has ensured that 2019 will be another strong year worthy of your time.
RESILIENCY OF THE AREA
Want to see what Myrtle Beach area is all about? Take into consideration that the area was hit by a freak cold streak early in the year and then endured Hurricane Florence and what was deemed catastrophic flooding in many parts of the region immediately after. Yet, nearly all of the courses were open for business and riding fairways within a week of the latter (more on the effects of the cold later). The Grand Strand recognizes that golf is a major player, and it protects that product so players can continued to enjoy it for years to come.
NEW DANCE FLOORS
There’s no other way to put it: That yo-yo weather pattern in late Winter of 2018 pushed several greens that were already on the back end of their lifespan up in the timeline. Temperatures flared up in February, only to see a week-long cold snap do a number of various strands of Bermudagrass. Owners of 10 different local courses (seven on the South Carolina side of the border) used that as an opportunity to fully update their product. Golfers hitting up Tradition Club, Myrtlewood PineHills, Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links, the Moorland Course at Legends, International Club and more are now the beneficiaries. All have reopened with impressive putting surfaces.
DIFFERENT STYLES FOR EVERYONE
You don’t pack 90 or so courses into essentially a three-county area without a recognizable – even if inadvertent – plan in place. Altogether, visiting golfers have opportunities to play oceanside tracks, amid centuries-old oak-laden Lowcountry environments, amid marshlands, alongside the Intracoastal Waterway or seemingly away from everything imaginable inside prosperous forest terrain. Considering the golfing boon here really started in the 1960s, and the market has perfected the art of golf diversity for more than five decades.
South Carolina’s first golf course wasn’t located in Myrtle Beach (it is considered to be a couple hours south in Charleston). Nor do many look at this area when it comes to rich history – Charleston and nearby Wilmington tend to hold down those mantles. However, when it comes to golf, the Grand Strand isn’t just about what’s here now. Starting with Pine Lakes Country Club’s opening in 1927, the area began to tie the game to something more. There are former working plantations serving as courses, the site of the founding of Sports Illustrated and scores of de facto historians doubling as professionals within the industry. Every course has a story, and no two are alike.
One of the most dynamic aspects of the golf in Myrtle Beach is that the off-course entertainment options are constantly evolving around the standard go-to choices. Players can be done with a round by noon, eating lunch by the Atlantic Ocean at 1, head to the beach in the afternoon, snag a great seafood dinner, hit up a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game in the evening and then head over to some place like Broadway at the Beach for late-night cocktails. In recent years, the Carolina Country Music Fest, the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, the Hollywood Wax Museum and scores of new dining spots have opened for business, adding to the selection.