MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The best Myrtle Beach golf vacation requires at least four or five days. But if your golf group can only make it for a long weekend getaway, you'll do just fine, though a few worthy golf courses are bound to be missed.
To get the most out of a three-day golf package, include a mix of convenience and variety -- and if weather and sunlight permits, some 36-hole days.
Here's a three-day itinerary to offer a good variety of Myrtle Beach's best golf courses, plus some restaurant options.
Stay and Play: Marina Inn at Grande Dunes
The Grande Dunes Marina Inn provides a convenient and luxurious base near the heart of Myrtle Beach. The resort is Mediterranean-inspired and sits right on the Intracoastal Waterway. Its docks serve as a luxurious port for boats that pass along through the Carolinas. You can stop off for a few days and play golf or just eat dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.
Accommodations range from one-bedroom hotel rooms to suites and condo-style units with full kitchens. If you're a beach bum over a boating buff, the resort has free shuttle service to its own beach club a short drive away.
Day 1: Dunes Golf and Beach Club and Pine Lakes Country Club
For your first day, play the classics in Myrtle Beach. Start at Dunes Golf and Beach Club, widely considered the area's most prestigious play. It features private club-worthy conditions and a tour-quality, classic design. Holes No. 9 through 13 make for one of Myrtle Beach's finest stretches. It starts with the area's only beach view hole and ends with the famous par 5, Waterloo.
In the afternoon, skip over to nearby Pine Lakes Country Club, where Myrtle Beach golf began in the 1920s. The golf course recently underwent major renovations and redesign, much of it aimed at restoring the facility to its classic roots. It's also the first golf course in the area seeded with wall-to-wall paspalum turf.
After golf, the nearby Liberty Tap Room, off King's Highway, offers a first-rate selection of beers, local and international, tap and bottle. They also feature a full restaurant menu in indoor and outdoor settings, plus big screens to watch any sports action on TV.
Day 2: Grande Dunes Resort and Members Club
By now, hopefully, you've worked out the cobwebs in your offseason swing and want to hit some big drives. So head to Grande Dunes Resort Golf Course, with it's 7,600 yards of space to conquer from the back tees. There isn't much traditional about this design. It's a dramatic, big-swinging golf course, tip-toeing above the Intracoastal Waterway. Amenities include massive greens and golf cart GPS, a full practice facility and a luxurious clubhouse and restaurant.
Also, by staying at the Marina Inn, you receive exclusive access to the Grande Dunes Members Club. It's an entirely different style of golf course in comparison to its older neighbor, but the best part is that while many other tee sheets in Myrtle Beach are stocked from sunrise to sunset, play here is reserved for a small membership and resort guests, so there is a great chance to play a quick round before sunset.
After golf, head about two miles south to Broadway at the Beach for casual and fine-dining restaurants of most genres, ranging from Rioz Brazilian Steakhouse to casual spots like Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. If you're planning a late start in the morning, your group can spend a long night at Broadway's Celebrity Square, home to all sorts of bars and nightclubs on one block, and you're just about a $10 taxi ride back to the Marina Inn.
Day 3: Caledonia Golf and Beach Club and TPC Myrtle Beach
My personal favorite spot to golf on the Grand Strand? The South Strand Lowcountry, which begins about 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach around Murrells Inlet. It's worth including on a three-day trip. Here, the golf courses assume a timeless feel with mossy oaks and other mature trees, and the oceanfront high-rise hotels and larger shopping centers are long gone.
I really like about a dozen golf courses in the South Strand, but the best overall experience is Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, a Mike Strantz design that opened in 1994. It's a relatively tame effort for the late architect, whose collection includes some much wilder efforts. It could very well fool any uneducated player into thinking it's the oldest golf course in town. Visitors adore Caledonia from its entrance, lined with 19th century-style oaks, to the the clubhouse patio, one of the best spots in the area for a post-round pint.
After golf, head north a few miles to the TPC Myrtle Beach. This tour-worthy facility treats every golfer like a pro with top conditioning, facilities and service that rival the picturesque Tom Fazio design, set among scenic forest and wetlands and home to wealth of bird life.
For dinner, head to the Marshwalk in Murrels Inlet, where you can choose from a variety of seafood restaurants and bars, all on an oceanfront setting. More casual eateries and watering holes include Dead Dog Saloon or the open-air Wahoo's. If you've gone this long on the coast without a great seafood dish, visit Divine Fish House, one of the area's top upscale restaurants with a large wine menu. It serves up fried fish, sushi and everything in between.