Story by Ian Guerin
Skydiving can be a flattening experience. The Eiffel Tower is, after all, just the original Stairmaster.
And who can really tell if those are dolphins or sharks you’re swimming with, anyway?
Take a safer bet with the Myrtle Beach Golf “Bucket List.” Cross these five off yours, and you’ll have stories for years - and an even smaller chance of finding yourself on the wrong side of the grass.
Searching for History
While history buffs typically clamor for Charleston, South Carolina’s Grand Strand is the base of golf’s explosion in the state. Naturally, including a round at the course that started it all here is a must.
Pine Lakes Country Club opened in 1927, and for more than three decades it served as the area’s lone course. It was also the staging point for Sports Illustrated. The Granddaddy, as it’s frequently referred to, is one of Myrtle Beach’s finest courses, and a nearly two-year renovation completed in 2009 took it back to some of its roots.
If that isn’t enough, down in Pawleys Island, Willbrook Plantation is designed around six historical markers from its days as one of the area’s prime rice plantations.
Finish Among Finishers
For most, playing Caledonia Golf and Fish Club is a bucket-list item all its own. The course opened in 1994 to rave reviews and is essentially a lock to earn state, region and national awards each year.
But with some solid planning and a little bit of luck, you can wrap up a round here in front of some of the men and women responsible for starting it all. Back in the early 1990s, the owners on the former rice and indigo plantation decided to hire a first-time designer named Mike Strantz to build a course on their pristine land. On a regular basis, many of them still meet early in the evening for dinner and drinks. The parties sprawl out onto the balcony overlooking the 18th green, and they’ve been known to vocally react to putts, for better or worse.
The same year that Caledonia opened its course, one of South Carolina’s native sons, Darius Rucker, launched a small fundraiser alongside his Hootie And The Blowfish bandmates to help raise money for multiple charities.
Rucker has moved on to mostly country music now, but he and his old friends have continued the Monday After the Masters (MAM) tradition they started more than two decades ago and turned it into one of the area’s true social events of the year.
Each year, the celebrity pro-am brings some of the most famous faces in golf, music and entertainment to the Barefoot Resort Dye Club. The tickets for all facets of the multi-day event sell out fast, but it is well worth the forethought.
Forget Folding ‘Em
There may be other holes better encapsulating the Myrtle Beach golf scene and the various terrains that make up the area.
None leave those who succeed feeling as accomplished (or those who fail wanting another crack at it) as the 6th hole at King’s North at Myrtle Beach National.
“The Gambler” features an island fairway that allows hitters of all shapes and sizes at least a sliver of a hope of reaching the par 5’s green in two. It’s not easy; nor do most players effectively make the back-to-back shots required to do so.
But between the plaque at the start of the hole to the daunting amount of water - we’re not talking about your profuse sweating - you need to avoid, The Gambler tempts everyone to go for it.
A Grande Combination
Great golf is a must. Having maybe the best place in Myrtle Beach to reminisce about the round after?
The Grande Dunes Experience - whether you play at the public Resort Club or somehow find your way onto the private Member’s Club track - has an exclamation point like no others in the Anchor Cafe at Marina Inn.
Located on the property but on the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway, the Anchor Cafe is a relatively small restaurant and bar with a big-time reputation. It overlooks the waterway and is located directly across from the Nos. 9 and 10 holes at the Resort Course. The quaint open-air spot opens each year in late March and continues daily service until late September or early October.
Visitors there have the calming effects of the water traffic as a backdrop as maybe the perfect way to back up a day on the course.