Story by Ian Guerin
The city name itself is known to those around the country as a Golf Capital, U.S.A.
But when it comes to getting to the nitty gritty of planning a links-loaded trip to South Carolina’s northern coastal area and the 90-plus Myrtle Beach area golf courses, having a basic knowledge of the area and its surrounding cities and towns will serve you well. We here at MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com have put together your comprehensive how-to guide. We want you to get exactly what you want out of your trip, and just as importantly, we want you have to know where to begin and then what questions to ask so you can properly implement those ideas. We’ll touch on the main parts of town, the clusters of courses, prime entertainment options and more, all with the hopes that your golf trip is maximized.
You are officially enrolled in Myrtle Beach Golf 101.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS ‘THE GRAND STRAND’?
No first-time visitor should make his or her way here without having at least a working knowledge of the environment.
Using a touch of German, the area in and around Myrtle Beach was dubbed “The Grand Strand” by the Myrtle Beach Sun newspaper as early as 1949. It was originally a way encapsulate the space between the North Carolina border all the way south to Georgetown, S.C., and eventually, the term was so widely used that it became a call sign of sorts.
Now, it covers so many different locales and so many personality traits, the metropolitan market of more than 320,000 full-time residents (and a few million seasonal visitors) is so much more than simply one city.
Still, we’ll start with the namesake that put the area on the map.
Smack dab in the middle of all the action, Myrtle Beach and its bustling tourist attractions serves as the original centerpiece. It is home to six public courses the area had to offer, including the first two in Pine Lakes Country Club and Dunes Golf & Beach Club. Representing less than one-tenth of the full-time population of Horry County, Myrtle Beach has held on to its clear-cut anchor status for outsiders (and most locals).
Point the compass up, and visitors are only a quick jaunt away from North Myrtle Beach and Little River, a city and town, respectively that chew up much of the landscape between Myrtle Beach and the state line. Due west of those places are the unincorporated Long and the city of Loris. Those combined areas, known as the North Strand, have more than their share of playing options, most notably the Barefoot Resort courses, Tidewater and Long Bay Golf Club.
To the South of Myrtle Beach is a bevy of links that have in many ways carved out their own niche. Bolstered by the Waccamaw Golf Trail’s 12 courses, Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island blend southern Horry County and northern Georgetown County into a stretch of land where golf has raised the bar. TPC of Myrtle Beach, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue Golf Plantation, Willbrook, River Club and Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club help craft one of the state’s best run of tracks.
Due west of Myrtle Beach, between the area’s namesake city and the county seat of Conway, are the areas of Carolina Forest and Forestbrook. These two boast Myrtle Beach National’s trifecta of King’s North, SouthCreek and West, as well as the Legend Golf and Resort trio of Heathland, Parkland and Moorland. There is also Wild Wing Golf Plantation and World Tour Golf Links, a replica course bringing some of the world’s most notable holes together into one round.
South Carolina’s northern coastline lacks an interstate option, but heading from one locale to the next is typically easier if you have a few of the major thoroughfares memorized.
We start with U.S. 17 and U.S. 501, the two major paths cutting north-south and east-west, respectively (501 is technically a north-south label, but not locally, so don’t let the signs fool you too much).
From there, we also recommend knowing S.C. 31, the highway connecting Carolina Forest and Forestbrook to the north end, as well as S.C. 544, which traverses the south end of the Myrtle Beach limits to Conway, S.C. 22 (which connects the south end of North Myrtle Beach/Little River/Briarcliffe Acres spots to the west side of the county), and S.C. 707, a north-south semi-loop that can be a decent back to U.S. 17 while heading south.
Lastly, knowing King’s Highway, technically U.S. 17 Business for a large portion, is crucial given its route along so many playing, staying and entertainment and food options.
MAJOR OFF-COURSE FOCAL POINTS
Three mega-locations have set themselves apart when it comes to dining and entertainment, and all are easily accessible.
We start with the first, Barefoot Landing, which opened for business in 1988 as an outdoor shopping district that added restaurants and bars and even Alligator Adventure, a reptile-laden zoo. Located next to the Intracoastal Waterway, Barefoot brings in a sizable amount of boat traffic to complement the auto traffic coming into its segmented, 100-acre property, one that also features the House of Blues and the Alabama Theatre.
Not long after Barefoot opened, Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach started to give locals and tourists another one-stop shop for all things dining and entertainment beginning in 1995. Nearly 100 retail stores are joined by Wonderworks, Legends in Concert, an amusement park, The Avenue (the cobblestone street bar district), and a large number of restaurants with virtually any food imaginable.
In 2008, developers worked on a third project that was somewhat unlike the other two. Market Common, located at the south end of Myrtle Beach city limits, aimed to create an urban area that would craft residential and commercial property as a first of its kind. Neighborhoods and townhouses surround mid-upscale food and retail shops. The latter of which attract more than their share of one-time and regular visitors.
GOING TO SCHOOL
One of the underrated parts of the Grand Strand’s golf scene is the help players can receive once they’re here. Whether it’s a quick, 30-minute tutorial or a week-long school used to overhaul the use of every club in your bag, there are four really good ways to make sure your game is better than when you arrived.
The Dustin Johnson Golf School at TPC of Myrtle Beach is led by his longtime coach (and former college coach) Allen Terrell. There is also the Mel Sole Golf School at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, a place where Sole frequently gets into the mental approach as much as the physical.
At Indian Wells Golf Club, Meredith Kirk puts her specialty of working with youngsters to great use, and it’s a way to incorporate more of the family into your future outings.
Lastly, the Golf Performance Center at Grande Dunes Resort Club joined the fray in early 2017. The focus is two-fold, with some of the enrollees working on their game while others are fitted for clubs – many for the first time in their playing lives. Combination packages are available.
YOUR PACKAGE, YOUR WAY
Whether you’re searching for rounds, hotels, full-blown stay-and-play options or anything else, the golf concierge options at MyrtleBeachGolfTrips are here to make your vacation everything you want and more. We can assist in matching your golf needs and wants to the proper courses, maximize your time on and expert tips along the way. Itineraries for bachelor parties, reunions and family trips are available, and only a few clicks away.