By Tom Ferraro, Ph.D.
I’ve played on the world’s finest courses including Pine Valley, Winged Foot, Baltusrol, Olympic and Shinnecock. And as a golf writer I’ve been privileged enough to have traveled to some of the most beautiful golf resort destinations including Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits and Doonbeg in Ireland. I have been indulged and pampered in all ways. So I am no longer easily impressed.
When my best friend Billy suggested that we go on a buddy trip to the Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina I did not put on my happy feet right away. He promised that he had two other good golfers, that he would do all the planning and that it was going to be dirt cheap. Since we were deep into a New York winter I eventually relented and off we flew to Myrtle Beach in late February. My expectations were not soaring.
What I saw floored me. By week’s end I was converted into a true believer. We played The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Legends and Oyster Bay, and all were immaculately groomed despite being in the dormant season. Each course was designed by a renowned architect, and best of all we did not wait on a single tee. I saw par fives that frightened me and par fours that required a carry over wood-planked canals and to wind-swept greens. I saw holes lined with huge oak trees covered with Spanish moss. I fell in love with Myrtle Beach.
The Grand Strand is the home of Kelly Tilghman, the charming golf anchor on Golf Channel. She seems to me to have the Myrtle Beach temperament: all warmth and an easy grace. oles Par
I have since learned that the three courses we played were not even the best that Myrtle Beach has to offer. Caledonia, True Blue, Heritage Club, Tidewater, Grande Dunes Resort Club, King’s North at Myrtle Beach National and TPC Myrtle Beach are the premier layouts on the Grand Strand. These courses and others on the Grand Strand have been designed by Tom Doak, Pete Dye, Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones and Mike Strantz.
The price to play these gems was miniscule compared to other high-end destination golf courses. To play Pebble Beach you will fork over $600 per 18 holes. Teeing it up at Caledonia can cost you less than $100 per round. It appears that my friend Billy had the right idea by choosing Myrtle Beach.
Buddy trips are priceless for many reasons. It is the only time all year when you let your hair down, gamble all day long and think nothing but golf, golf, golf. It’s like being a Tour player but without having to earn your living at it.
Anyone who has been on a buddy trip knows that true bonding occurs. We live in an ever accelerating time that rushes us along. Buddy trips are the antidote to all that speed and stress.
Buddy trips should be a part of every golfer’s bucket list. We all want to go to famous golf destinations and when you finally muster the commitment, memories are made that get implanted in the mind forever.
Life is a vanishing dream. Nothing stands out and everything fades away. But buddy trips do not fade away. I can still remember as a young teen staring at a black and white framed photo of my father, my two uncles and one of their friends posed around a golf cart on one of their buddy trips to Fred Waring’s Shawnee on the Delaware back in 1965. I think the reason I recall this photo so vividly was because I could see it represented a very special time for my father and his brothers.
And as for me I remember the three wood I hit onto that par five 10th. Or how we spent the afternoon gambling our way around the putting green. These experiences have become implanted and are now a real part of me.
You may remember the classic sci-fi comedy “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” where Bill and Ted traveled around the world as their way to prepping for their history final. But why should Bill and Ted have all the fun? Don’t we all need these excellent adventures to sustain us?
Myrtle Beach is rarely mentioned in the same breath as the Monterey Peninsula, Bandon Dunes or Whistling Straits, but this has nothing to do with the quality of the golf courses. Myrtle Beach courses have never been seen on television hosting a major, and therefore they lack the “brand name” of a Pebble Beach.
I learned that Myrtle Beach transcends its reputation. There is an abundance of remarkable courses with no wait time and at reasonable prices, so do yourself and some friends a favor and go have an excellent adventure for yourself.
Three Buddy Trip tips