MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- A vacation to Myrtle Beach can go a lot of different ways, from family beach holidays to spring buddy golf trips. The Grand Strand's 100-plus golf courses are open for business 12 months a year and offer value plays and nationally acclaimed designs.
Here are 10 reasons why your group should consider Myrtle Beach for its next golf trip.
A touch of Myrtle Beach history
Though not exactly historic Charleston, which is two hours south, there are little slices of history all over Myrtle Beach. Recently restored Pine Lakes Country Club was founded in 1927, and the nearby Dunes Golf & Beach Club was established in 1948. Or dine in at Sea Captain's House, set in a house built on the beach in 1930.
The historic fishing village of Pawleys Island, which is just south of Myrtle Beach, oozes Lowcountry charm and plantation-era history. With no high-rise hotels or strip malls, Pawleys Island offers a little slice of yesteryear every year.
Top golf course architects
Beginning in the late 1980s, most of the game's top golf course architects were lured to Myrtle Beach to build courses that would become nationally recognized. Today, most of the best names are represented here, and in many cases, more than once. Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer all have two or more Grand Strand credits.
Myrtle Beach value plays
Even as Myrtle Beach can offer some of the best golf courses in America, you can virtually name your price to play golf. There are up to a dozen different rate changes during the year, so if a course that fits your eye is too pricey, just wait a few weeks. Courses are usually most affordable in the summer and between Thanksgiving and the first week of January, and the lower-end courses charge little more than cart fees.
Myrtle Beach golf packages
Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday coined the golf package decades ago, and today Myrtle Beach remains a leader in providing value for the buck when you combine golf and lodging into one low rate. Deals such as the "Prime Time Signature Package" offer free golf at premium courses when you book three- or four-night/round packages.
Multi-course golf resorts
A few golf resorts are encompassing enough that you don't even need a rental car for your trip, combining dining, golf and more resort amenities, and they usually offer steeply discounted or even free afternoon replays to resort guests. If convenience is your bag, check out Barefoot Resort, Legends Golf Resort, Ocean Ridge Plantation, Sea Trail or Litchfield Golf & Beach Club.
The Grand Strand
The Myrtle Beach coastline isn't called the Grand Strand because of golf. It's because there's 60-plus miles of beach spanning up and down the coastline. It's a spectacular sight, especially on the Fourth of July, when fireworks dot the night sky for endless miles in every direction. Beach towns such as Surfside Beach and North Myrtle Beach have watering holes on the ocean, so bottoms up and enjoy one of the world's largest natural bunkers.
Dining and nightlife
There are as many watering holes as there are golf holes in Myrtle Beach, from sports bars to nightclubs and even some open air, beachfront bars. Bottled domestics for $2 or large tap selections are always right around the corner.
The dining scene in recent years has also grown, from seafood buffet filling stations to higher-end and chic seafood joints, tapas bars and steakhouses.
To stick out from the crowded Myrtle Beach pack, most golf courses have gone out of their way to create at least one memorable signature hole that will attract groups, such as "The Gambler" at King's North at Myrtle Beach National or the island green 13th at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club .
Recent golf course remodels
While the great golf and resort boom of the 1990s is long gone, there have been some recent remodels and redesigns in the Grand Strand. Historic Pine Lakes Country Club reopened in 2009 as a revamped classic, the Founders Club at Pawleys Island opened as a brand new design on the former Sea Gull site, the Valley at Eastport Golf Club reopened its doors after closing for a couple years, and River Oaks Golf Club has new ownership and 27 holes that received a facelift. Rivers Edge Golf Club, one of the more spectacular river settings in the destination, recently reseeded its maligned bentgrass greens with paspalum, and reports are that they're running better than ever.
Golf academies and course instruction
Most golf courses in Myrtle Beach have top practice facilities and golf schools that cater to resident snowbirds, right down to shorter-term golf schools or just midtrip tune-ups. This is where a lot of aspiring tour players come to hone their game and teaching pros make a name for themselves. Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday recommends the Classic Swing Golf School at Legends Golf Resort or Grande Dunes Golf Academy, but there are dozens to choose from all over the Strand.