In the winter of 1990 I was contemplating planning my first golf vacation. At that time I had been playing for about 13 years, approximately once a week, either with my golf club at Marine Dunes Golf Course in Brooklyn on Flatbush Avenue or at Dyker Beach Golf Course in Dyker Heights. The course was located in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and at the time it was the most played public course in the country.
I always surprised what it would be like to go on vacation for an entire week and be able to play golf every day if I wanted to. In conversation with my golf club comrades and reading my favorite golf magazines, Golf Digest being at the top of the list, it became clear to me that Myrtle Beach would be a great choice. I had one dilemma, my significant other was joining me on the trip and had never played golf before. So I offered her this option – Learn to play golf or wait for five or six hours, while I played, for my return. She was into sports, softball, baseball and football like myself, and athletic so she opted to learn to play. Her decision to learn posed my second dilemma, which was how to teach her to play in four or five weeks before we had to embark on our trip. A crash course with an instructor or should I take on the challenge?
I presented her with the choice and the next thing I knew we were in the local ball fields after work and on weekends and I was teaching her to play. She actually progressed better than I would have imagined. She was hiring 8 iron about 125 to 130 yds. and pretty straight at that. Some of the guys I played with did not hit that well. She had one last query before we left, especially since she had never played, and that was, "Are there other things that we can do together golf?" Good question, but I had already anticipated it and was ready.
Of course there are other things to do – I heard the beaches are beautiful, miniature golf, which she enjoyed was readily available, water parks in abundance, great restaurants and I saved my ace in the hole for last, and plenty of places to shop . That did the trick. We were ready – Myrtle Beach here we come! So, in April of 1990 we were off to our first ever golf vacation. We stayed at the Ocean Dunes Hotel and had reserved an oceanfront room with a balcony overlooking the beach, which turned out to be a very good decision on our part.
If you have a few extra dollars and enjoy the beach and ocean it's well worth the additional cost to be able to wake up in the morning and be able to view the ocean, the beach and the Sun as it rises, an exhilarating feeling to say the least. We are usually early risers and we enjoyed this routine each morning as we anticipated our day.
Then on to breakfast, a nice little buffet type which was included in our golf package. All it cost is a few dollars for the tip. Finally, the golf was incredible, the first course we ever played at Myrtle Beach was Buck Creek (now renamed Aberdeen), then Long Bay (A Jack Nicklaus design and noted in many golf magazines at the time, especially his signature 10th hole) and also Tidewater, one of my favorite golf courses played to date and a few other courses, one better than the next.
Since this was my significant others first time playing golf, she was a little nervous on the first tee since all the other players are mulling around waiting for their turn to play. Realizing our situation, the starter, who on most courses is usually very nice and considerate, set us up on the back nine where no one was around. This courtesy was greatly appreciated and made the experience much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. I would strongly recommend to the new golfer to let the starter at the course know that you are just beginning to play, and would appreciate if he can place you where the least amount of golfers are playing, if possible.
Some golf course complexes have more than 18 holes (Myrtle Beach National, Barefoot Landing Resort, Legends, Arrowhead and Heather Glen to name a few) and one 9 or 18 hole layout may be more readily open and available for you to play.
This is not always the case, but you can also schedule your tee time when the course is less crowded and you would have a more relaxed atmosphere in which to play and take a little more time if necessary. The dining was also very enjoyable, we had some fine meals at Gullyfield's (No longer Exisiting), Rossi's, a nice Italian venue with music, including a little Dean And Frank (located at the Galleria Mall off Business RT.17), which also offered atmosphere and ambiance with an Italian flair as you enjoy your meal and Damons for the rib lovers (located at Barefoot Landing at the time and since relocated).
There's also Chuck's Steak House and my favorite restaurant at the beach – Greg Norman's Australian Grille, also located at the Barefoot Landing Shopping Complex (About a mile or so North of where Rt. 22 and Business 17, aka Kings Highway meet). I'm not sure if Greg's Place was open at that time but it has been a must stop for us for the last few years. The Australian Grille offers the option of dining inside or outside the restaurant which overlooks the Inter coastal Waterway. Beside the view of the Inter coastal, the outside seating offers a bit more relaxed and quighter atmosphere, complete with tree lighting, gas lit torches, an outdoor fireplace, entertainment and a view of the sunset as you dine if you time it right. What more can you ask for?
The shops at Barefoot are also varied and offer a multitude of choices for dining, clothing, fudge, taffies and all kinds of souvenirs. Klig's Kites And The Christmas Mouse are two of our favorite shops to visit where we always find some great Seasonal Flags and Christmas souvenirs and gifts respectively to bring home.
Our first few trips to Myrtle Beach were so centered around golf that we never realized how enjoyable a day at the Beach could be. Before golf, Myrtle Beachs' reputation as a seaside resort was well known and it attracted many visitors each year. Even for the most die hard golfer, which I would pretty much consider myself, I would highly recommend a day of relaxation and fun at the beach. Rent a lounge chair and umbrella, toss the football or Frisbee around, enjoy the beauty of the ocean and the waves, or just sit, relax, have a beer or two if you'd like, and take in all the sights around you. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
You can have your cake and eat it too – enjoy the beach in the morning (make sure to get there early – Before or around 9:00 am if possible) and still be able to schedule an afternoon round about 3:30 pm, at which time the sun will be going down and the golf course will be a little cooler and less crowded. Since the sport of golf has become an integral part of the make up of Myrtle Beach it really has become a BOTH a family vacation spot and golf destination that everyone can enjoy. The Golf, Beach, Water Parks, Rides, Miniature Golf, Restaurants, Shopping Complexes such as Barefoot Landing and Broadway At The Beach, which also has many shops, restaurants, mini-golf, rides, entertainment including tha Hard Rock cafe, nightspots for the younger, middle aged and older crowds and a multitude of other interesting and enjoyable options including "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" and The Aquarium which is fun for all ages.
When the sun is down, the die hard golfers can also enjoy Medieval Times, The Carolina Oprey, Alabama Theater and Dolly Partons Dixie Stampede, which are just a few of the other choices providing entertainment and dining for the entire family golfer and non-golfer like.
For the family golf vacation many of the hotel golf packages and golf courses offer FREE golf for children and young adults aged 16 and under when accompanied by a paying adult. Not a bad deal. Some of my favorite but more pricey courses to play are Tidewater, as mentioned earlier, Caledonia, a beautiful Mike Strantz design, True Blue, TPC, Kings North at the Myrtle Beach National Resort and Pawleys Plantation, located at the southern end of the Grand Strand and designed by Jack Nicklaus, my favorite golfer of all time.
With over 130 courses within a 30 mile radius, each one more beautiful and better than the next, it's no wonder that Myrtle Beach is known as "The Golf Capital Of The World". If you are planning a golf and / or a family vacation check out Myrtle Beach. I'm sure you will revisit it for many years to come. Happy Golfing And Vacationing To All!