MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- "Value" is a relative term. But on the Grand Strand, people with all wallet sizes should be pleasantly surprised at their final bill after a long weekend of golf.
Myrtle Beach has become a golf destination for those looking to escape the snow for a bare-bones golf experience in the winter, as well as those on the hunt playing the country's finest.
You'll all go home happy.
Take note that rates on hotels and golf courses in Myrtle Beach frequently change seasonally, up to a dozen times a year. The prime time is March-April, while the lowest rates are usually available between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
You can play some of the best courses in America thanks to many of the game's top golf course architects now in Myrtle Beach. There are about 15 to 20 courses that check in between $120 and $200 during the peak season. They reduce rates by 30 to 50 percent during the off-season.
One of the area's first courses, The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, is consistently rated one of the beach's top plays -- and with good reason. Conditions at this semi-private club are immaculate, and so is the stretch of holes No. 9-13, which starts with the area's only beach view hole and finishes with the famous par-5 "Waterloo" around Lake Singleton.
Caledonia Golf & Fish Club is the jewel of the South Strand. While the course was built in the 1990s, it feels like it has been around for decades thanks to mossy oaks and an artful Mike Strantz design.
Just north of Caledonia, players can get the tour treatment at the TPC Myrtle Beach. It features a Tom Fazio design set in scenic woods and wetlands. The facilities and service are as good as any public play here.
Nearby, stay and play at the Marina Inn and or Grande Dunes. The private Grande Dunes Members Club is open only to Grande Dunes resort guests and often has open tee sheets to enjoy. The Grande Dunes Resort Club is the more spectacular of the two, playing along the Intracoastal Waterway and up to 7,500 yards.
You could spend a long weekend here without leaving the Barefoot Resort, thanks to four championship courses designed by Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Greg Norman and Davis Love III. Their varying styles mean each course is far different from the next, but of similar luxury standard.
Myrtle Beach offers cheaper rates for beachfront accommodations than just about anywhere. Try Tilghman Beach & Golf Resort in North Myrtle Beach. The property features modern, spacious two- and three-bedroom condo units with private balconies that were all recently renovated. In the south, Litchfield Golf & Beach Club is spread out over 600 acres and has plenty of beachfront access, as well as condos with a golf course view.
Mid-budget at peak season generally means something in the $80-$110 range (though packages can usually mean golf and lodging at about $99 per night per person).
South of Myrtle Beach, the village of Pawleys Island has some of the most upscale-feeling courses in the Grand Strand with plantation-style clubhouses and mossy oaks. If you can't afford Caledonia and TPC Myrtle Beach, visit Tradition Golf Club, Willbrook Plantation Golf Club and the River Club.
If you visit Myrtle Beach for coastal golf, tee it up at Rivers Edge Golf Club in Shallotte, N.C. It features a collection of dramatic marsh-front holes. In Myrtle Beach proper, one of the best unsung courses is Arcadian Shores Golf Club, one of Rees Jones' first designs.
We also should mention Myrtle Beach National's popular Prime Time Signature Package that includes four nights and five rounds. It runs $506 during peak season and includes lodging in a River Oaks villa in Myrtle Beach. You can select one premium round at King's North at Myrtle Beach National or TPC Myrtle Beach, and you also can book such standout courses as Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club and the Tradition Golf Club.
The soul of Myrtle Beach bargain golf can still be found among the celebrity course designers and four-star golf resorts. It is also one of the most affordable places to stay on the beach. So just because you're on a tight budget, it doesn't mean you have to stay out on a highway somewhere. Take advantage of most units' full kitchens and cook a few meals, and you'll save even more.
A few of the top courses that check in at less than $80 during peak season are Possum Trot, and the Palmetto Course and PineHills Course at Myrtlewood Golf Club. The revamped Valley at Eastport Golf Club in Little River also offers local friendly prices.
The West Course at Myrtle Beach National is a great pick if you can't afford next-door King's North. Like its famous brother, it is void of any real estate and has the luxury of bent grass greens.
You can also bomb and gauge on the cheap at John Daly-inspired Wicked Stick Golf Links, which invites players to swing big.
If you're not on a golf package or looking to add a round or two, visit GolfNow.com's Myrtle Beach section and keep an eye out for last-minute specials. If you're willing to tee off in the afternoon, you could easily book one of the more expensive golf courses for the cost of a bargain course in the morning.
March 21, 2011