By centering your Myrtle Beach, S.C., golf vacation to the northern end of the Grand Strand, you can the limit time spent in your car without compromising quality.
Between North Myrtle Beach and Brunswick County, some of the Grand Strand's most scenic saltwater and Intracoastal Waterway golf courses can be played. Also in the neighborhood are a handful of top multi-course golf resorts that allow for convenient 36-hole days.
While the smaller communities of Calabash and Ocean Isle Beach offer a slower vibe, you're just a short drive to the many entertainment options of North Myrtle Beach.
Here's how to get the best of the North Strand's golf courses in a five-day itinerary.
Day 1: Barefoot Resort, Love and Fazio
North Myrtle Beach makes up the southern end of the North Strand. Here, Barefoot Resort boasts a little bit of everything.
While Barefoot Resort's Pete Dye course is generally considered one of the toughest Myrtle Beach golf courses, the Davis Love III and Tom Fazio designs are fairer and still championship caliber for the mid-handicapper. They play out of the same clubhouse and are much different from one another, a big reason why Barefoot Resort recruited four very different architects for its resort (Greg Norman was the fourth).
For dinner, you can head over the Barefoot Bridge and splurge on a steak or seafood at Greg Norman's Australian Grille, or head to Wild Wing Cafe at Barefoot Landing for a wide variety of wing flavors on a great outdoor patio. For lodging, you can book a condo in one of the main high rises on the waterway or book a golf course villa.
Day 2: Oyster Bay Golf Links
If you like scenic, water-heavy golf courses when in the Carolinas, Oyster Bay Golf Links is one of the best spots to tee it up. Just a sniff off the coast, golfers are asked to carry water early and often while also navigate some of the larger and more severely sloping greens in the area. The golf course was built in 1983, a virtual grandpa by North Strand standards, and features narrow fairways and a distance peaking out at just 6,700 yards. But the hole and scenery variety remain as good as any golf course here.
If it's game night, head to a North Strand sports bar. Overtime Cafe has more TVs, big screens and TV walls than your neck will be able to handle, plus plenty of beers to choose from. Oscar's is another perennial favorite, especially if you're a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
Day 3: Tiger's Eye Golf Links and Leopard's Chase Golf Links
In Brunswick County, Ocean Ridge Plantation boasts four golf courses, including its two newest that are worthy of mention among the Grand Strand's top 10.
Tiger's Eye Golf Links has been an area favorite since opening in 2000. The golf course is wonderfully sculpted with palmettos, large water hazards and waste bunkers. It's now slightly overshadowed by the newer Leopard's Chase Golf Links, which offers a tougher challenge and a few more bells and whistles. Both are must-plays.
Ocean Ridge Plantation is just around the corner from Ocean Isle Beach, where you can head for oceanfront dining at Sharky's, a friendly and casual restaurant and bar with a large menu and plenty of seafood dishes to choose from.
Day 4: Rivers Edge Golf Course
One of the northernmost plays in the Grand Strand, Rivers Edge Golf Course is certainly worth the trek. With recently installed paspalum greens, the golf course has green conditions to match its scenic location on the Shallotte River. This Arnold Palmer design features stretches of marsh holes on both the front and back side, including the sinisterly narrow peninsula ninth green that few reach safely the first time.
A day smelling the saltwater at River's Edge will have you begging for seafood. For dinner, hit North Myrtle Beach's restaurant row for a seafood buffet. Raters at Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday recommend Seafare Restaurant as the best option in this area.
Day 5: Tidewater Golf Club
Few golf courses in the Grand Strand have as much marsh frontage as Tidewater Golf Club, which makes for one of the North Strand's top must-plays, as well as one of the toughest. Four holes on the eastern edge of the golf course are flanked by saltwater marsh, while four on the western side run beside the Intracoastal Waterway. The holes in between are tight and tough, making for an ideal finale course after you've honed your game all week.
If your group is looking to party it up on your last night on the North Strand, head to Molly Darcy's in North Myrtle Beach, a lively Irish Pub with beachfront access.