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Golf Chicago! Golf-away Destinations

Myrtle Beach

I know…another Myrtle Beach story – “been there-done that.” Think so, eh? The facts speak for themselves: with over 120 courses, throw a range rock over your shoulder and ‘yer sure to hit a golfer. It is golf’s premier destination. If you want masterpieces visit the Louvre in Paris, if you want golf, go to Myrtle Beach, SC.

It is an easy flight, even with a stop in Charlotte, NC. Just nibble Chili’s Bottomless Chips and Salsa during the short layover, hop back on the wings and land in Myrtle Beach, wide-eyed and giddy for a week of knocking that new balata around the links. If you are with the gang, book a spot at Legends Resort for the included breakfast buffet every morning, we were rolling up our sleeves at the table before 6 a.m., greeted with southern charm, great grub, and hot java.

Legends Resort is an upscale play and stay with three of Carolina’s top courses on site. The clubhouse is right out of Scotland, massive and stoic. As you approach the clubhouse you’ll hear the bagpipes-yes, there are actual bagpipers in kilts outside the clubhouse and the sounds echo through the course. Nice touch!

The Parkland course is a wonderful start to your Myrtle Beach trip. Parkland is a traditional style course with the classic touches resembling the work of Alister Mackenzie and George Thomas greenside. You’ll steer the ‘ol cart around the towering pines, carry-able water off the tee, and helpful mounding. Playable to all, from 5543 yards forward to 7170 from the tips. The one-shooters are where the fun starts at Parkland. Number 13 at 175 yards from the blues provides golfers with an ample chance to grab a par if they miss the eye-catching bunkering. The par-4 sixth is a monster from the tips at 440 yards. From the tee the pine tree on your right is the guidepost. If you land to its left you are in good shape, anything online or right of the pine is a certain bogey or worse.

Golf’s top young architect Tom Doak designed the Heathland course at Legends. Doak’s High Point Golf Club in Williamsburg is one of Michigan’s top courses and Golf Chicago! anxiously awaits the area’s first Doak course. A delightful glance at “gowf” in the British Isles, Heathland will take you and your sticks across the Atlantic for a links style outing.

The third on-site 18-holer at Legends is P.B. Dye’s Moorland course. This is T.V. series “Survivor” on steroids. The signature Dye bulkheads are ever-present at Moorland. You’ll love to hate this course, so do yourself the favor and play it twice. The 2nd hole, a three-shotter, is only 507 from the tips, but danger looms tee to green with water and waste areas along the entire right side. The approach shot is a foreshadowing glance at the next 16 holes: trouble left, trouble right, wet long and right, and back-wrenching pot bunkers! The 16th looks reasonable on the scorecard, par-4 only 270 yards. But this hole calls home to the infamous “Hell’s Half Acre” bunker, a nasty trap with an elevated green for bait. Miss the bait, and you are snared. When that little voice pops up between the ears and yelps, “Hit the 6 iron, taketh only what the course giveth…” - listen to it; you’ll be eyeing a wedge while the other three are asking if they’re in a lateral hazard or on the moon. Just about when the pars start rolling, WHAM, take two or three out of a deep greenside bunker and leave a downhill 40 footer on the huge greens at Moorland. You’ll be left pondering why you don’t stretch that muscle between your ears on the course more often.

Arghh, this is why we love to play the Dye clan tracks, it is target golf, only P.B. forgot to put the targets up.

Legends Resort’s Marsh Harbor and Oyster Bay are nestled in close proximity and offer the unique challenges in wetland golf. Marsh Harbor is a Dan Maples layout ranked annually among the top public courses on numerous national lists. The intercoastal views and lush vegetation provide incredible sights and ambiance. The huge Carolina Pines and wetlands surround the aptly named Marsh Harbor; the terrain provides an excellent backdrop to a delightful loop. Marsh Harbor is by no means a course for all players; this one is for the A game. Beginners and neophytes need not think past the forward tees. Press to the blue tees and prepare for frustration. Having said that, if you have your game on, a memorable experience on a tough track is guaranteed. The par 5 17th is one of Myrtle Beaches' best holes. Number 17 plays 570 yards from the back and a reward of par is granted with no less than three great shots.

A truly gratifying round, Oyster Bay is another Dan Maples beauty at Myrtle Beach. The omnipresent gators on the 15th and 16th holes allow a close, safe look at some 10-footers, a great photographic opportunity for the desk at work. Oyster Bay plays 6,680 from the back tees and, like Marsh Harbor, Oyster Bay should be played closer for the rusty swingers. Upon arriving at Oyster, you’ll notice the abundance of oyster shells incorporated in the landscaping. These shells are present on the signature island green 17th hole, a one-shotter with great looks from all three teeing areas.

If you’ve got a 36-hole day planned, try Marsh and Oyster. Since travel time between rounds is minimal, you’ll get a chance to grab a bite at an outstanding roadside joint. Pizzeli’s Deli at 10136 Beach drive in Calabash, NC, is on the road from Oyster Bay to Marsh Harbor. Stop in and enjoy a hot Grinder. You’ll get plenty of golf talk from the staff and patrons as well as the best sandwich in the area.

Tidewater Golf Club and Plantation, managed by Troon Golf, is another Top 100 Public course worthy of its distinctions. The five-star treatment starts at the first tee. A starter greets you with freshly roasted pecans, bag tags, yardage books, and the old fashion introduction to ‘our’ course. After leaving the starter you’ll first notice the blinding white silica sand bunkers. Like stripes on a coral snake, beware of the bright white sand. Tidewater winds golfers through great golf challenges and panoramic intercoastal views. The greens are shapely and were the fastest greens on our trip. The 3rd hole is 157 yards from the tips, and one of the finest one-shotters I’ve played. The putting surface melts toward the marsh and a sand save from the front bunkers requires one hell of a golf shot. Tidewater offers five different teeing grounds so all can join in on this round. The nine holes which run along the coastal inlets reward golfers with breathtaking views. Golfers even get a glimpse of a big pond, the Atlantic Ocean. Tidewater is money well spent, and you can add another course to the Top 100 you’ve played.

The fourth hole at The Love Course
New to the Myrtle Beach arsenal are the Barefoot Resort courses. Barefoot has four 18-hole layouts by the likes of Fazio, Dye, Norman and Davis Love. Although the clubhouse is still under construction, the courses are complete with each one reflective of their designers. The Love Course is already receiving heady acclaims and is what a resort course was meant to be. Back it up on the tee, and there is plenty to grip and rip. Play it foreword and enjoy the spacious fairways and the mild forced carries. The starter’s shack at the Love Course is just that, an old tin shack. The tin theme is carried throughout the course buildings and restroom facilities. The rusted finish may lead you to believe this course has been nestled for fifty years, not recently opened in 2000. The par-4 fourth hole has already graced golf publications due to its brick plantation ruins behind the green. Coming back on the sixth, the putting surface is opposite the ruins. Be sure to capture these holes on film.

Love’s greenside shaping and bunkering allow golfers to be creative. Most of the approaches to the greens allow you to run it to the stick. The greens roll true and smooth, and in fact the flat stick is the smart choice on many approaches inside of twenty yards. Our group hit a few worm-burners that settled next to the pin. The conditioning is near perfect and couple that with some mighty mounding and a naturalistic design, it is a visual journey that will be on your tongue long after you reach home in Chicago. If you have time to play all the Barefoot courses, prepare for a world-class golf experience. If only booking one, take the Love Course.

Also new to Myrtle Beach in 2000 is Tiger’s Eye Golf Links. Words cannot begin to explain Myrtle Beaches' stunning Tim Cate design. The upscale track is dramatic, patterned after the North Carolina tracks at Pinehurst. The clubhouse deck affords a marvelous view of holes 9 and 18. I’d be hard pressed to recommend a better 19th hole seat. Cate’s gentle elevation changes and huge Coquina boulders inspire an emotional journey. We played this Cat early in the morning and were greeted by a mystical fog. After the first few holes the fog lifted, leaving us standing smack in the middle of an oasis of bunkers, boulders, and grassy knobs. The journey takes you through 18 great golf holes, each loop a climatic finish. Number nine forces golfers to club up on the approach or risk dunking one in the drink before the many peering clubhouse eyes. Look for Tiger’s eye on the top of many ‘New Course’ lists and to join Myrtle’s elite courses. Chicagoans will recognize the G2 bentgrass greens and fairways at Tiger’s Eye, after a week of zoyasia at the beach; the turf pelts flying are a warm welcome. Tim Cates’ work is receiving national kudos. Join the praise and book a tee time while they are still available.

The Internet has really taken all the hassles out of the equation of booking a group outing in Myrtle Beach. Hit a search engine and let the modem do the work. With over 120 courses and just as many places to stay, an educated golfer will be the trip’s hero!

The aforementioned Legends Resort is my pick to click. The often overlooked or underemphasized trip problem is satisfactory accommodations. Spend the extra buck and let resorts like Legends do the work. Seems more often then not, the hotel rooms look more like a dormitory than a relaxing home base. The Golf Villa was spacious enough for four golfers and a good game of cards. Not to mention the late night cigars out on the deck.

Chicago’s Golf Show is a great resource to pre-plan with the buddies, make the trip to Rosemont and there will be more than enough Myrtle Beach planners on hand to encourage the tightest of friends.

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Last Updated: 2/4/01