Episode #25: An Inside Look at a Hidden Gem: Tradition Golf Club 09/01/2020
Meredith: Welcome to the Gimme Golf podcast. This is episode number 25. I am Meredith Kirk, your host. And today we are going to take an inside look at a hidden gem, Tradition Golf Club, previously named the South Carolina Golf Course of the Year. Our guests on the show today are Christa Bodensteiner, PGA head golf professional, and Kurtis Kuhn, First Assistant Professional. And we are going to talk about some unique characteristics of the golf course, a recent green renovation and some really interesting background information on this beautiful course located on the southern end of Myrtle Beach on the Waccamaw Golf Trail. Stay tuned and listen in.
Meredith: Tradition Golf Club, set amid some of the nicest golf courses the Grand Strand has to offer. Tradition holds its place along the Waccamaw Golf Trail with a creative, yet simple, design. I am so excited to be here today. We are on the road. Christa, Kurtis. Thanks for coming on.
Christa: We're glad to have you today, Meredith.
Meredith: And we're stealing your conference room right now.
Nate: How'd you both get out of the shop at the same time?
Christa: Is there anybody in the shop right now?
Kurtis: Yeah, we got Mark [inaudible 00:01:20], our second assistant. He's out there. He's got full of full control of it.
Meredith: All right. So I want to talk about this course. I absolutely love Tradition Club. I love coming on the southern end, and I've always preferred the southern end of Myrtle beach. I think it's just the lowcountry feel that I like. I love coming out here and seeing the oak trees and the wildlife. It's a little bit slower pace on this end, which I like golfwise. I think I play better on the south end. I don't know.
Christa: Absolutely. No, I prefer the south end too. Just a little bit, partially, because I've worked down here all these years, but also really because it is a little bit slower paced, and I just love the old plantation style. It's just aesthetically beautiful. It's a little bit quieter. I've enjoyed working here all these years.
Meredith: Kurtis, what about you?
Kurtis: Yeah. Down here, you got beautiful golf courses. You've got nice, mature, beautiful trees. You get that old timey feel with some new style layouts. You definitely won't be disappointed down here on the south end.
Meredith: Now what sets this course apart from the other courses on the southern end, because just within literally like a three mile radius, we have Willbrook, we have River Club, Litchfield Country Club, Pawleys Plantation, Founders Club. Just to name a few here on the southern end. What sets you guys apart?
Kurtis: Well, I believe what sets us apart is we kind of mix the old with the new very well. We were opened in '95, so we got a little bit our layout here. It's got that nice mature tree line fairways so you get that old timey feel, but then we've got two island greens. We got a couple of forced carries over some water out there. So you definitely have that new architectural design on the golf course, but with the nice mature tree lined fairways, you still get that feel like you're at an old style golf course.
Meredith: And you mentioned greens. You recently had your greens renovated. Tell us a little bit about that.
Christa: Yeah. Well, so in the summer of 2018, we actually closed down for a couple months, and we had a new Bermuda greens put in. And actually they have just been absolutely wonderful. We've had nothing but positive feedback from them. It was tough to be closed for a couple months, but we have not regretted it, not one single time since. We actually put in Sunday Bermuda. And we have just been really, really thrilled with the results from that.
Meredith: Well, I remember, Nate, remember we came out, and we filmed when they were closed down. I think you guys were getting ready to reopen. And remember, we were talking about how there's not any divots in the ground. Remember? It was like divot free golf right before the opening. It's like, hey, if you want to come out and see what it's like to play a course without zero divots, come on out before the opening.
Christa: Absolutely. Well, it is one of the more beautiful times and more peaceful times is right before the play starts.
Meredith: Yeah. It's so beautiful out here in the morning. And Nate, you've taken so many pictures out here. And by the way, folks, if you haven't seen Nate's photography, you need to head over to the Facebook page, mbn.com. He regularly posts the sunrises and tons of pictures from some of our courses, or most of our courses. And they're absolutely beautiful. I love the sunrise. You got one today, you were showing me. It's beautiful.
Nate: You just got to get up early, but you have to go to bed early too to get that.
Meredith: So is it true that the early bird catches the worm?
Nate: It does. It gets the photo. It gets the photo.
Kurtis: That's right.
Meredith: Well, I want to talk a little bit about your background. Christa, like you said, you've always been on the southern end, and I've known you for decades now, and you were at Litchfield Country Club and River Club for so long. And you've been here for a few years now. Is that right?
Christa: Yeah, just a few years. Not that I'm old or anything, but I did start down here. Actually, I was first hired at Litchfield Country Club in 1994, which yes, that is 26 years ago. I was really young when I started, obviously.
Nate: You were like 12?
Christa: Yeah, two. Two or 12.
Meredith: She's 28. That's it.
Christa: I've always been advanced. Yeah, I've always been very advanced. Anyway, so yeah, I started at Litchfield Country Club, and most of my years have been down on the south end. For actually 15 of those years, I was the head pro at Litchfield Country Club and River Club. And so that's why I'm a little bit partial to the south end, actually.
Christa: And so then two and a half years ago, I moved over here to Tradition, and it's been a great over here as well. It's just been a really fun place to be.
Meredith: Now what would be the course differences being at Litchfield Country Club for so long in comparison to here?
Christa: Well, first of all, I would just like to say, you can't find a bad golf course down here. That is the beauty of this area is all of these courses that you were naming earlier that are within five minutes are awesome. And the variety is my favorite part. Litchfield Country Club and River Club, two very different designs, very different than Tradition, but they all have something to offer. Litchfield Country Club is one of the oldest courses in the Myrtle Beach area. And so to go from that traditional style with doglegs and everything else, to something a little more modern, like Kurtis said, it's interesting, and it appeals to just about everybody in the fact everybody has a little different style golf, and we can offer something for every person who likes to play.
Meredith: And your practice facility here is amazing. That's one of the aspects I love about coming to Tradition Club because, in comparison to the other courses, in my opinion, you guys have one of the best practice facilities on the southern end. Pawleys Plantation Golf and Country Club is nice as well, but this is probably one of my favorites. So I think that a lot of golfers enjoy coming here because who has a putting green that large?
Christa: I think it was meant to be a football field originally, and then they couldn't find a football team or something to go on it. So then they made it into a putting green instead. But yeah, it's about that size.
Meredith: Yeah. You can fit 30 people on that green comfortably.
Nate: Waccamaw High School asks you to use it sometimes?
Christa: They do, as a matter of fact. We host for their high school teams. That's exactly right. Not their football teams, but their golf teams. I'm sorry.
Nate: I was talking football.
Christa: No, their football teams, I think they're set on their own, but their golf teams do use it, Nate. Smarty.
Meredith: And I like how, on the range, the flags are marked. Nate, we were talking about that this morning because we were out there filming a golf tip, and everything's marked out there. So it's nice to know somewhat of what your yardage is are and-
Nate: You know how bad you hit it.
Meredith: And yeah.
Kurtis: How short you are or how long you are. Yeah. So it's easy. I was telling you that earlier, it's easier to see, get your wedge game dialed in a little bit.
Meredith: So Kurtis, tell us a little bit about your history in golf. Christa hired you here in 2012. Tell us a little bit about your journey.
Kurtis: Yeah. So I'm originally from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I've always been into golf. It's always been a family thing that we've always done. So I've always kind of known that that's something that I would really love to get into. And then after I got married, decided to make the trip down here to go to the Golf Academy, just to get kind of started in the field. And then in February of 2012, Christa gave me the opportunity down at Litchfield Country Club to start as an assistant. And then just slowly progressed there. I started working at Litchfield and River Club kind of back and forth. Then ended up about, I guess it's been about five years now.
Nate: You're getting old, man.
Kurtis: I know, I know, I know.
Meredith: Yeah. When you had to start counting like that.
Kurtis: I know. I had to think that one in my head there for a second, but about five years ago, I made the switch over here to Tradition Golf Club to make that next step as a first assistant. I think it's been one of the better moves for me in my career, working for Founders and taking that next step. And that's the beautiful thing about Founders. We have 20 different golf courses that they really help promote from within, which is great.
Kurtis: And then now, I'm actually first circle with Christa coming back to Tradition Club. We're back together again, just like-
Nate: She thought she got rid of you.
Kurtis: Just like the good old days.
Nate: She thought she got rid of you.
Kurtis: She tried, but I pulled her back in. So we got back together, and I think it's worked really well. Been fun working with her again for the last two and a half years.
Christa: Yeah. Can I give my version of that story now?
Nate: Yeah, yeah.
Christa: So my version of that story is I was lucky enough to hire Kurtis when he got out of the Golf Academy. And then I was actually quite sad when he was moving up and moved over here under Kevin Williamson. When he got the first assistant job, it was bittersweet because I always liked to see them succeed, but I really hate it when they leave.
Christa: And so, from the very beginning, Kurtis was one of those guys you just knew it was going to do well in whatever he did. And I'm thrilled that he stuck it out in the golf business, and he has just been... Basically now he runs this place, and I just pretend like I do. It's great. It's awesome. Works out well. That's my version.
Meredith: Well, they're both great versions. I like that. And Kurtis is a great player too, because we've come out here before, and we've showcased some of our favorite holes here at Tradition. And Kurtis and I had played together, and of course he always beats me. He's a phenomenal player. And it's always nice to come across pros in the business that play really well. It's great that you're able to keep up your game. And I know you're a father now, and I know sometimes it's hard in life juggling work and family, and then working on your own game. But you've done really well with that. How do you juggle all of that?
Kurtis: Oh, having a very understanding wife.
Meredith: There you go.
Kurtis: She's definitely the foundation with everything that I do. But yeah, she understands that not only with being in the golf industry, with having membership here, the members do like to play with you. And you definitely want to make sure that you keep your game at a decent level to where you can go out and play with them. And I said, I'm good enough to play with the members and have a good time with them.
Nate: And he's a Callaway guy.
Meredith: Are you... Oh, that's right.
Nate: I got some clubs from him. Yeah. He's...
Kurtis: I am a Callaway guy.
Meredith: How long have you been with Callaway?
Kurtis: Callaway. I actually signed a deal with Callaway last year. So it's been a little over a year now.
Meredith: Okay. Because I was thinking the last time we played together-
Nate: Not that we're getting residuals from Callaway, but-
Kurtis: Shout out to Nick Krueger.
Meredith: Yeah. Love me some Nick. This is the funniest story. I ran into Nick at the grocery store a couple of years ago, and it was like 10:00 at night. And we're just both making that family night run like, oh, I need milk at the last minute. So I run into him, and we ended up talking golf. We're in the parking lot, and he;s giving me these Callaway hats and having these great conversations. He's the nicest guy ever. What a great representative we have in our area that we get to work with. But yeah, Callaway is awesome. You're liking their clubs?
Kurtis: Love them. The new MAVRIK clubs, they're very, very nice.
Nate: So how many, you were telling me when I ordered mine how many people you fit for clubs, how many last year. Was this kind of like spread out here in the club? Everyone has to get the clubs?
Kurtis: Yeah. Funny story. So with Callaway, we took them on and with the membership here that we have, we have a pretty decent sized membership, probably one of the better ones down here on the south end. And we had a demo day, and we got a driver in one of the member's hands. And then he went out there and played, and obviously he's going to be playing with other members, but then it just kind of... One of the members was like, well, hey, let me hit it because he went from hitting behind him to now he's hitting past him. So now the next member wanted to try it. And then the next member wanted to try it. And it snowballed to where pretty much our membership out here is pretty much basically playing mostly Callaway out here now, which is fantastic.
Nate: You can't switch now.
Kurtis: I can't, I'm locked into Callaway.
Meredith: Yeah, and you know the great thing about that is we are having Callaway fittings at our Founder courses. Yeah. So is there going to be a schedule release to where maybe somebody listening, who's going to be in the area, maybe they'd like to be fit.
Kurtis: Yeah. We'll have that schedule up on Myrtle Beach Golf Trips.
Meredith: Yeah. So there you go. Myrtlebeachgolftrips.com.
Kurtis: It's a little different now. You have to call for an appointment with everything, but yeah. And you got a good variety. We do Callaway, Taylors. Of course, we do Callaway Taylormade. So not just exclusively give Callaway the [inaudible 00:00:13:34], but...
Meredith: You know what we should do is have a member tournament with all the members from different courses like Callaway versus Taylormade. Let's see how these clubs are actually working among membership.
Kurtis: Well, sometimes it's more the Indian than the arrow. So you got to put that out there too.
Meredith: All right. Well, getting back to Tradition, another aspect I love about this club is you have great food, a really nice area to eat in, and also a beautiful area outside that overlooks number 18. It's really a remarkable view. And to me, it would be a great place to have a party. Do y'all have a lot of parties out here?
Christa: We do have some parties. Yeah. We have a lot of member parties. We have other parties. Large golf groups love playing at Tradition for that very reason. That outside patio gets all sorts of use. It's amazing how we've got a lot of tables and chairs out there. It's covered. People just love sitting out there., But we can accommodate a lot inside too. And you were absolutely right about the food. I can talk about something I really know about there.
Meredith: Okay, let's food because I'm hungry.
Christa: I can't really talk about Callaway clubs as much, but the food here is amazing. Our food and beverage manager does a fantastic job. And so she can do about anything. And so we have people that come in just for lunch sometimes, and everybody knows her famous breakfast sandwiches.
Meredith: Oh, well tell me a little bit about those.
Kurtis: Well, I know a little bit too much about those. She makes them from scratch, and you basically get bacon, ham or sausage, but they are phenomenal.
Christa: For real. People do talk about them. For real.
Meredith: Sounds delicious.
Kurtis: Yes. They are very, very good.
Christa: You think I'm joking, but for real, it is actually true.
Meredith: That sounds really good. We need to get one after this.
Nate: I haven't had lunch here.
Meredith: I'm want to try that.
Meredith: All right. So if you come to Tradition Golf club, go ahead and plan on eating breakfast here. Get a breakfast sandwich before you head out. She could probably wrap it in aluminum foil too if you-
Christa: How did you know? Have you had them? Yeah. That's exactly what she does, Meredith. I thought I saw you over there.
Christa: Don't forget the pro shop too, because we do have a golf shop that's got some awesome, awesome apparel here. Kurtis does all the buying, and he does an amazing job, so I'm always impressed with what he does in the golf shop too.
Meredith: Your Pro Shop's amazing.
Nate: So your favorite stretch of holes out here, talk about a couple of the holes on the golf course. It seemed like every hole out here is different. There's not... It's-
Kurtis: Yeah. So you definitely, the beautiful thing about this course is you never get bored with it. I have played this course many times, and every time it's a different challenge whenever you go out there. It's got a little bit of everything. Like you said, you got the island greens. You got the straightaway par fours. You got a couple of doglegs in there.
Kurtis: But my favorite stretch of holes out here is once it sometimes kind of fall a little bit under the radar, but four to seven is my favorite stretch out here. Four is a fantastic hole that doesn't get talked about a lot. Basically it's a straightaway par five. It plays from the white tees, you're right around 550. So it's reasonable. And too, if you hit it, if you want to try, it's one of those best risk/reward holes out here. So basically your tee shot, you have a beautiful tree that's out about 200 yards out from the green that's on the left hand side, but then you also have a bunker on the right that's guarding it. So your actual landing spot, if you want to go for the green, is probably only about 15, 20 yards wide. The fairway looks pretty wide from the tee box, but whenever you actually get up there to have a chance to go, you really have a little area that you got to kind of fit your ball into.
Kurtis: And then the second shot, if you are going forward, you can either lay up, or you can go for it, but it's going to be over a nice pond. So it's definitely one of those beautiful double tiered greens. You got a bunker guard on the left. You can bail out right, which is nice. So it's one of those ultimate risk/reward holes. You're probably better off just laying up and taking it on with your wedge shot. But it's definitely one of the better holes out here. I feel that really any type of player can have fun playing that golf hole.
Nate: See, I thought you were going to go to 14, 15, 16, those holes. But yeah, that's-
Kurtis: Like I said, there's a bunch of good stretches. But then, like you said, then four turns into five, which is a really good par three, from the white tees, plays about 175. Big green. So you got plenty of room to miss, but it's definitely one of those greens where if you miss the green, it's a little tricky of an up and down because we got some slopes on that green there.
Kurtis: And then hole number six is one of my favorites out here. It's just a short little par four, got a bunker guarding the right. It's got a double tiered fairway. So you have the lower fairway. You have the upper fairway. Your tee shot is a little bit over a pond so that that can come into play. And then it's also got another where it slopes back the front green, guarded by bunkers. So it's one of those birdie holes where it's definitely a birdie hole, but you got to be careful because you can easily walk off there with a double without batting an eye.
Kurtis: Then seven is obviously our road hole, which is absolutely gorgeous. I think one of the best part fours on the beach. It's the hole that gets asked about the most because when you're coming into us, it's right along the road, so it's one of our island greens. So everybody's saying, oh, what hole is that that we came in? Is that yours? And we're like, yeah, it's number seven. You'll get to it. And people are talking about that hole before they even get to it. So it's definitely a nice par four. It only plays about 400 yards from the whites, a little bit under 400. So it's definitely a second shot hole. The more you can get aggressive towards the pond, the shorter shot you're going to have in, but it's definitely a challenging second shot whenever you step up there and see all that water.
Nate: So you try to think, I think I've calculated this before, but you say driving in. So within three miles of this golf course, you've got how many others? You think about it. You've got Willbrook, River Club, Litchfield, Caledonia, True Blue, [inaudible 00:00:19:25].
Nate: So I guess-
Nate: Yeah, you got Reserve. But you've got six mile radius of how many golf courses is that? Eight? Seven?
Christa: That is...
Nate: It's amazing. I mean, you think it.
Christa: It's eight. Yeah, that's eight.
Nate: That's amazing, isn't it?
Kurtis: Yeah, because when you stand on our 16 tee box, you can see Willbrook from the road, and then you're on our course, so then whenever you get in the fairway, River Club is right there on the other side of the tree line. So right there, you got three courses that come together right there on that-
Nate: That's number five at River Club. I think I've actually hit it over here playing [inaudible 00:19:59].
Kurtis: We're not going to talk about that, Nate.
Meredith: And that is why we call it the Waccamaw Golf Trail.
Christa: That's right. That's right.
Nate: I think of it because I'm amazed at that because where I'm from, there's one golf course, and you got to drive two hours to get to another one. It's like here, you've got so many quality golf courses within six miles. And you could spend your whole vacation down here.
Meredith: Yeah, it really is amazing.
Christa: Well, and again, the variety, just the variety that you can see from there, and yeah. And the variety at Tradition, as you said, you would have thought of 14, 15, 16. I bet if you asked 20 different golfers, they would give you 20 different holes on what they enjoyed out here, because there are so many memorable holes here.
Meredith: And the architect that designed this course, Ron Garl...
Meredith: Garl. See? I always get the last names wrong. This is his only design in this area, I believe. Right?
Kurtis: I believe so, yeah.
Meredith: I think so. Yeah.
Kurtis: He's from Florida.
Meredith: So it's kind of unique knowing that you have this designer that created all these amazing holes, which like you said, anybody can come out here and probably name practically every hole their favorite, but that's unique to be able to play a designer that hasn't been everywhere in the Carolinas, that he's more well known in the Florida area. Now, did he call you after we had a hurricane a few years ago?
Christa: He did. Yeah. I was so impressed with this. It was actually, it was about shortly after I started at Tradition, and it was after Hurricane Dorian. And so we were very fortunate that we didn't have much damage from it. But the phone ring when we were reopened, and he introduced himself. He said, this is Ron Garl. I actually designed Tradition, and I just wanted to call and make sure everything was okay there, which I was so impressed with that, that he took the time and had the awareness to know, okay, this is where I have one of my courses and wanted to make sure... He wanted to make sure the staff was fine. He wanted to make sure that the golf course was fine. And that to me just spoke volumes. He actually calls periodically, which is the only designer I've ever worked with that periodically he'll just call to see how things are going.
Meredith: That is great. Now was he aware of the green renovations? Was he excited about that?
Christa: Oh, absolutely. Yes. Yes. He sure was. Yeah. He was excited about that too. Exactly.
Meredith: Well, so much out here at Tradition, we need to get out and play, Nate. And Christa, we've been talking about playing forever.
Nate: She has to now. Kurtis, I've got new clubs, so I've made the investment.
Meredith: Can you believe Nate's playing again?
Christa: I can't believe it. I just think that is so awesome.
Meredith: I know. Yeah.
Kurtis: I'm open this afternoon if you guys want to play.
Meredith: Yeah, Kurtis is always game. Well, Tradition Golf Club, previously named the South Carolina Golf Course of the Year. This is definitely a course you want to add to your Myrtle Beach golf bucket list, a beautiful course along the Waccamaw Golf Trail. For the best rates, you can always go to Myrtlebeachgolftrips.com. Check it out. Book it. Come down and see Christa and Kurtis on the southern end. Thanks so much for taking the time out to hang with us today.
Christa: Absolutely, Meredith. Thanks for coming out here. And Nate too, thank you.
Meredith: Well, we love coming out here. We love Tradition.
Nate: We're out here quite a bit because we do a lot of our video recording here, so guys probably get tired of us.
Nate: But yeah.
Meredith: We love it because you guys have a phenomenal practice facility in which we can record all of our golf tips.
Nate: That's why we do it.
Meredith: So if you want to check out some golf tips, you can also head over to our Facebook page on Facebook, mbn.com. You can also check out the golf tips at Myrtlebeachgolftrips.com. Everyone, thanks for tuning in today and remember to rate and subscribe to our podcast. And we'll see you guys next week.
Set amid some of the nicest golf courses the Grand Strand has to offer, Tradition holds its place in the Waccamaw Golf Trail with a creative yet simple design that focuses on pristine surfaces (newly renovated in 2018), protected greens and a challenging yet playable round. Well-known Florida course architect Ron Garl accomplished just that when one of his only designs in the Carolinas was opened in 1995.
Show Notes~Time Stamp of discussion points
1:47 Christa and Kurtis’ take on the southend Myrtle Beach Golf
2:21 What sets Tradition Golf Club apart from neighboring Waccamaw Golf Trail Courses
3:16 2018 Green renovation project
4:50 Christa’s background working in Myrtle Beach golf and differences of the courses on the southend
8:08 First Assistant Golf Professional Kurtis Kuhn’s background
13:54 Food and beverage operation, great food (including the fantastic breakfast sandwich) outside patio and event hosting.
15:50 Kurtis’ favorite stretch of holes at Tradition Club
20:39 Christa’s contact with course architect Ron Garl
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