MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | As the ultra-popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” comes to an end, fans of the show have been spending extra time analyzing the characters brought into our living rooms, not to mention the traits they possessed along the way. Obviously, some folks were just downright evil or had major flaws. We rooted for their demise. However, be it the heroes or the anti-heroes, everybody on the show brought his or her or characteristics to the table, making the entirety of the show what it was (enough to even circumvent a serious coffee cup mishap or a reliance upon the crescendo). Similarly, the Grand Strand golf scene as a whole can thank all of its individual parts for making it what it is today. Some courses are central to the plot line; others add supporting roles. Some are considered top-billed designs; others boast smaller identifying qualities.
We decided to match some of #GOT culture with that of the #MBGolf one. Of course, we left out the maiming, killing and sheer desire to rule the Seven Kingdoms. We play much nicer here in Myrtle Beach. If you’ve yet to get into the show or are behind, be aware of potential spoilers. (See? We’re being nicer already.)
Eddard Stark was very much the catalyst for so much of the narrative of Game of Thrones (even if he didn’t last very long). He was, in many ways, a reason some of us got into the show. Try to tell us that doesn’t sound like Pine Lakes Country Club. Myrtle Beach’s first course set the stage for a landscape for years to come, even when more influential designs game along. And much like Ned, it has a sweet nickname in “The Grandaddy.”
How many times did we wonder how Snow was going to recreate himself into the focal point of yet another episode while building himself as the driving force that he seemed to always be? In Game of Thrones, he was just always front and center. Dunes Golf & Beach Club may not have been Myrtle Beach’s first course, but since the 1940s, it has been making waves and forcing many who followed to jump in line and try to keep up.
The show’s great thinker had his faults, sure. But he continued to prove that mind was just as important as body. The thinking man’s golfer, Gary Player, did just that with this signature design at Blackmoor Golf Club. Here, you may use four or five clubs equally, but you’re almost assuredly going to reach for everything at least one or twice. Getting around the 18 holes at Blackmoor requires a deft touch and some extra thought – just like Tyrion.
There’s a million shirts floating around the globe that read “Judge me by my size, will you?”, emblazoned with a picture of Yoda from Star Wars. If that didn’t convince just about everyone not to discount short folks, Arya took care of the rest. She defined the entire final season of the show with one bold act. Like Arya, Dye Club at Barefoot Resort & Golf isn’t a one-hit wonder. However, everything it does well – hosting the Monday After the Masters, carrying the Barefoot banner, etc. – comes despite a relatively short distance for the vast majority of players.
One of the few Game of Thrones characters who spanned all eight seasons, Cersei undoubtedly proved staying power that we can only assume is based upon her having serious dirt on the show’s writers. Frankly, she’s an awful, awful display of the worst parts of human nature, and we’d prefer not to tie her to any local course out of fear of getting sued.
THE NIGHT KING
While the White Walkers were referenced early on, their leader was a late arrival to the show. Even then, those of us who didn’t read the books had no clue how big of a role he was going to play or how long he was going to do it. (We’ll forget the whole Arya thing. Sssshhh, we’re on a role.) When Caledonia Golf & Fish Club opened in 1994, the Myrtle Beach golf establishment was skeptical of how a course unlike any other would do, especially when a relatively light advertising budget pre-social media was letting the course create all its own chatter. Now, it’s a monster, and it leaves everyone talking.
In another setting, Myrtle Beach National’s SouthCreek would be a popular draw by its lonesome. Pure conditions that favor those who don’t try to bull-rush a course have led it to success, even if it is heavily overshadowed by its big brother and fellow Arnold Palmer design, King’s North. Now, give Samwell Tarly a spinoff, and I think we’d see similar results that you would with SouthCreek. Snow’s best friend has influenced the show time and again when we didn’t expect him to or think he could.
The evolution of Sansa Stark is a microcosm of the show from start to finish. She goes from meek and just sort of there in season one to playing a crucial role in so many of the other characters in the later ones. Take that info and consider how many packages include Myrtlewood PineHills’ course now? Over the course of 53 years, PineHills has continued to evolve – from a design standpoint, greens, heck, even an addition to the original name. Yet, its central location and ability to improve has made it more and more important to the landscape.
Humble beginnings? A majestic rebirth following improbable circumstances? Three dragons? Try to tell us Daenerys isn’t Aberdeen Country Club. Between the Mothers of Dragons and Aberdeen, we see many a similarities from those who were once overlooked. Daenerys earned a loyal band of followers, as did Aberdeen. She was counted out more often than not. And Aberdeen’s three nines just keep proving they had something up their sleeve despite nature’s worst luck. Dracarys, indeed.
Ian Guerin is a DJ and freelance writer based in Myrtle Beach. You can follow him on Twitter @iguerin and Facebook facebook.com/IanGuerinWriter/