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A Grand Getaway for Golf & More

Quite simply, Myrtle Beach is better than ever. With seven area layouts on the Golf Digest “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” list (more than any other destination), Myrtle Beach is a golf paradise that non-golfers also happen to love.

“If good times, great service and value for your dollar are important, where else could you go that would offer more?” asks Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau. “No other east coast destination offers the diversity and value that you get in Myrtle Beach.”

Long known as a value-packed destination on and off the links, Myrtle Beach growth continues on both fronts today. Recent years have seen the opening of the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame at Pine Lakes’ new Hall of Fame Garden, the opening and growth of highly popular Market Common (a mixed-use retail and housing village, including great new restaurants), and a major $130 million airport expansion to welcome all those visitors (including many who checked golf clubs with Spirit). In mid-2010, a new 1.2-mile pier to pier Boardwalk and Promenade will open.


Golf was a part of Myrtle Beach’s growth from the start. The "Granddaddy" of them all, Pine Lakes Country Club opened in 1927 as the Ocean Forest Club. It closed in 2006, but re-opened to rave reviews in the spring of 2009 -- restored to Robert White’s original design by renowned golf restoration architect, Craig Schreiner.

The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, opened in 1948 and remains one of the nation’s finest layouts. Several other courses, including Myrtlewood Golf Club, Litchfield Country Club, and Whispering Pines, opened in the 1960s. World-class designs (and designers) followed, including Barefoot Resort and Golf, Tidewater Golf Course, Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, Kings North, and TPC of Myrtle Beach. In 2007, Leopard’s Chase opened, starting a run of new layouts to enjoy. With several new layouts and re-openings in 2008 and beyond (like Founders Club at Pawleys Island and the upcoming Jaguar’s Lair), golf is continuing its Myrtle Beach growth spurt.


The pivotal 1960s really put the area on the map, with dozens of new golf courses luring many duffers and the establishment of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday in 1967. A non-profit trade association, Golf Holiday started with eight golf courses and 10 hotels. Today, they offer 75+ courses, 100+ package providers, and five golf schools. They’ve also owned and managed the hugely popular PGA TOUR Superstore World Amateur Handicap Championship (3,800+ golfers from all 50 states and 20+ foreign countries) each August for the past 26 years, as well as several other tournaments.

“Myrtle Beach has long been recognized as the ultimate golf experience with more ‘Top 100’ golf courses than any other golf destination in the United States,” says Bill Golden, president of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. “Our research tells us that non-stop flights to Myrtle Beach are a critical consideration for golfers because less travel time means more time on the golf course.”


The grand game also influences 19th hole activities. Golfer-friendly off-course possibilities include restaurants like Greg Norman’s Australian Grille, dayspas for golfers and non-golfers alike (we like He‘s Not Here), and lots of golf-happy shopping options, including two huge PGA Tour Superstore locations.

Myrtle Beach is also considered the miniature golf capital of the world, with more than 50 courses featuring man-eating dinosaurs, lava-spewing volcanoes, pirate ships, and more.

With growth rivaling golf, the theater and entertainment scene is reaching for the stars. Eight modern showplaces feature music, dance, comedy, dinner shows, special seasonal offerings, and many celebrity appearances.

A list of other area attractions off the links has to include: seaside Family Kingdom Amusement Park (featuring the legendary Swamp Fox wooden roller coaster); Ripley’s Aquarium and several other Ripley’s attractions; The Pavilion Nostalgia Park at Broadway at the Beach; Myrtle Beach Pelicans Minor League Baseball in a great stadium (across from Broadway at the Beach); Brookgreen Gardens (stunning outdoor sculpture and southern-style gardens); and the world-class Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum.

From boutiques to factory outlets to sprawling mixed-use shopping and entertainment complexes, shopping doesn't wait for a rainy day in Myrtle Beach, The possibilities to shop ’til you drop lead to previously mentioned Market Common and PGA Tour Superstore spots, Barefoot Landing (more than 100 shops, a dozen-plus waterside restaurants, and several attractions), Broadway at the Beach (350 acres of shopping, dining, and entertainment), quaint Pawleys Island Hammock Shops (famed hammocks and more), and several huge malls.

The sleeping scene in Myrtle Beach is also better than ever, with a wide range of accommodations options (and golfer-friendly packages that often include golf and other discounts). Some top possibilities include: The Marina Inn at Grande Dunes (with the adjacent Ruth’s Chris Steak House); Myrtle Beach Marriott at Grande Dunes; Caravelle (originator of the “golf package“ and celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2010); Scottish-themed Legends Golf & Resort, Barefoot Golf Vacations at Barefoot Resort & Golf; the new Shaftesbury Suites at Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club; Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club (offering a slower-paced Myrtle Beach-area golf vacation destination -- including a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course); and Sea Trail Golf Resort, just across the state line up in North Carolina. Part of the “Brunswick Isles Golf Trail” along the Carolinas coast, Sea Trail and other famed layouts (including the new Cape Fear National) are just a short drive from Myrtle Beach proper.

With more than 1,800 full-service restaurants in the area, visitors never go hungry, not with options from the Divine Dining Group (steak, seafood, pizza, and more) on the plate. Other choices include several Liberty/TBONZ hotspots (microbrewed beers, fish, and meats), and SeaBlue Restaurant (creative seafood and tapas). Fresh fish is seen on many menus and restaurant-lined Murrells Inlet is known as “The Seafood Capital of South Carolina.” Up in Pawleys Island, the place to eat is now High Hammock Maverick Seaside Kitchen, part of the tasty Charleston-based Maverick Southern Kitchens group. Those with an appetite for other types of cuisines will find barbecue, home-style Southern cooking, international fare, and a booming restaurant platter that ranges from behemoth buffets to a burgeoning upscale dining scene.


Myrtle Beach Area CVB: 888-MYRTLE1, 843-626-7444; www.visitmyrtlebeach.com