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Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Steve from Manhattan asks "Dear Jay, some buddies are going to Myrtle beach in April and want to play the good courses. We all love your site and we know you tell us what courses are CHOICE. What do you recommend?"

Flattery will get you everywhere, Steve.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is the golf world’s equivalent of a Grateful Dead concert – loud, colorful, raffish, and full of hawkers, lights, attractions and billboards commanding your attention and money. The “East Village” of golf destinations, this honky-tonk oceanside Carnivale for budget seekers has all the charm and subtlety of a Moroccan bazaar, but all the fun too. It’s a place where golfers can take Lionel Richie’s advice and “party, carrano, fiesta, forever” or at least straight through until the next morning’s tee time. Nevertheless, the golf has ascended from merely cheap to world class. But Steve is right. With over 100 courses to choose from, you must choose wisely. For openers, the general unwritten rule is when in Myrtle, do not play a course with an animal in the name...and that includes John Daly's Wicked Stick;) After that...well here's a great list for the discriminating traveller. Steve, these courses are CHOICE, if you will...We will post a longer review later this week with course details and some travel and lodging advice. But let the debate begin! Here's AWITP's list...what do you think?


Mike Strantz's first solo effort was nothing short of the grandest course on the grand strand...and that is quite an accomplishment. Caledonia is the Latin word for Scotland, but should be the Latin word for gorgeous. Sublimely integrated with the landscape, Caledonia is a sensuous but subtle delight. Built on an old rice plantation, the site is steeped in tradition, refinement and southern charm. Strantz is indeed the master of counterpoint and dichotomy. In perhaps the tackiest city on the eastern seaboard he built a standard of charm and old-world refinement and relaxation. Then in Pinehurst, known for its refinement, he built his legendary heathen firebreather, Tobacco Road. Both differ from their surroundings, but perhaps thats what makes them unique gifts to our great game. $70-120 but worth so much more. Do not leave the beach without playing 36 here...and relaxing with the reknowned Thursday PM fish fry.

2. TPC - Myrtle Beach

Tom Fazio built the 100th layout at Myrtle and it deservedly plays host to a Champions Tour stop. $70-$120, but with great risk-reward designs, holes carved through the forest (not your standard beachfront humdrum claptrap), and impeccable conditioning it has risen to the top.

3. The Dunes Golf and Beach Club

Home to a long time LPGA stop and once home to the PGA tour, Robert Trent Jones 1950's design held the title of best course for over 40 years on the Strand. Still beautiful, full of great risk reward holes and southern charm, the course is a fair and fun test of all facets of the game for all players. Watch out for the GATORS! Only a handful of "upscale" hotels allow patrons to score a coveted tee time, but be careful where you pick...the Palmetto Bug, "state bug of SC" inhabits more than a few "upscale" hotel rooms. Bolt your confines if you see one and the management does not offer you an upgrade immediately. $70-$120 and worth the splurge, but after caledonia and The TPC.


TRUE BLUE - People used to complain that True Blue was "too hard", but it's a cakewalk compared to other Mike Strantz courses...a very clever design with a fantastic finishing strech. Never one to forget to "dot the i," at the course built on an indigo plantation, Strantz put a blue roof for the clubhouse.

TIDEWATER - Ken Tomlinson was a tax attorney before designing this terrific low country layout filled with risk reward options and heroic shot values. Glad he changed professions...what's next Ken?

BAREFOOT LANDING - Four great designers, four fun courses to relax at and play without leaving the grounds. Convenient.

LEGENDS COMPLEX - Three great courses...Parkland, Heathland and Moorland...Tom Doak, PB Dye and others give you three contrasting styles at a fully loaded facility.

GRANDE DUNES - new and sporty. Many well designed holes and two miles from the Dunes. Great for a 36 hole day and then some beach time. Minimal driving too...

Also try these great designs...


More to come...Jay


Blogger Robert Thompson said...

Mr. Jay: I've played about 30 courses in Myrtle Beach in my younger and less discerning days (and before Golf Digest gave me access to some fine private tracks).
Myrtle Beach is like a smorgasbord, some of it is tasty, but there are some things that have been under the heat lamp for too long.
The best: Tidewater, TPC, Norman course at Barefoot, Dunes, True Blue, Caledonia.
Jay, looks like you've missed Rivers Edge, a really terrific Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay design just across the border in North Carolina. It has some wonderful holes on it, though I thought the ninth was kinda goofy.
But there's lots of "the rest." However, if you are just looking for good, affordable golf, it is hard to beat Myrtle Beach's packages. It may not be the best you'll ever play, but golf in February is hard to argue with.

5:30 PM  

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