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Myrtle Beach offers much more than just great golf.

EXPANSIVE BEACHESThe Pavilion may be gone, but the jewel of the Strand is still Grand, especially if you play golf. Myrtle Beach has been referred to as “Golftown USA,” “Golf City USA” and the “Golfing Capital of the World.” And for good reason, with 103 golf courses to play, this area along Highway 17 is a slice (no pun intended) of heaven for golfers.

Mickey McCamish, president of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, points out while there are fewer golf courses in the area than previous years, due to the adjustments in the industry, the number of public courses still surpasses other popular golfing destinations.

“Golfers have many places to choose from for a true golf vacation,” he said. “However, I believe that Myrtle Beach offers quality, as well as variety, that cannot be matched anywhere in the world. We have courses designed by all of the top pros in the industry. There is truly a course for everyone.” When asked about which ones he would recommend, he commented that they (courses) are “all great. It would be hard to narrow it down because each of them has their own uniqueness and special characteristics.”

TEEIN’ IT UP

So many courses, so little time. However, if you plan your weekend out right, you can play two or maybe three different courses by late Sunday evening. From challenging to friendly to awe-inspiring – golf courses don’t get any better than this. Don’t judge a course by its first appearance. While Thistle Golf Club (800-571-6710; www.thistlegolf.com), looks incredibly challenging, with five sets of tees, it isn’t. Consider the course to be hard on the eyes, but easy on the player. This 27-hole course, designed by Tim Cates, evokes a Scottish links feel. Be sure to look for the bird sanctuary near the 10th tee. True Blue (888-483-6800; www.fishclub.com/trueblue) has been ranked in the top 10 of Golf Digest’s ‘Top 50 Courses in Myrtle Beach.” With its dramatic layout, calling
this Mike Strantz-designed course a challenge is being polite. Now, that doesn’t mean it isn’t playable. With five sets of tees, nearly everyone can play and survive.

SCENIC CALEDONIA

Across the street from True Blue is the scenic Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (800-483-6800; www.fishclub.com/caledonia), also designed by Strantz. Situated on a former rice plantation, this course is perhaps one of the best representations of Lowcountry courses with the views and wildlife. Given its natural beauty, the 6,526-yard, par-70 course has been described as having not one or two, but 18 signature holes. If there’s such a thing as a relaxing course, it would have to be Whispering Pines Golf Course (843-918-2305; www.spinegolf.com). This 18-hole course is great for a quick play is you are not ready for the more strenuous greens. What’s special about Whispering Pines is that is it one of three courses in the state to be designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Dan Maples’ Oyster Bay (800-299-6187; www.legendgolf.com) can be quite tricky with its marsh and lake plays that come into effect on 15 different holes, but don’t let that stop you. Pay close attention to the two signature holes, 13 and 17, which involve oyster shells. The 6,700 yard, par-70 also has its share of marsh-oriented holes.

AWARD-WINNING GOLFBarefoot Resort (800-320-6536; www.barefootgolf.com) is home to four golf courses that include the Love course, designed by Davis Love III; and the Fazio course, created by Tom Fazio. Both courses were recognized as Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses in 2005-06.

The 7,000 yard, par-72 Love course incorporates old plantation ruins along a couple of holes. However, the stand out feature on this course is the landing areas and greens complexes designed after the ones found at the 1999 U.S. Open. The Fazio course incorporates the natural scenery into its design. The 6,834-yard, par-71 course is playable to all level of golfers. Although the lake can be seen, it really doesn’t come into play on any of the holes.

THE 19TH HOLE

One can’t survive Myrtle Beach on golf courses alone, or at least your travel companion can’t. As hard as it may be to believe, there is a lot to do and see away from the greens. Aside from the beach, this area is filled all type of activities and entertainment venues that appeal to all ages.

Broadway at the Beach (www.broadwayatthebeach.com) is somewhat of an all-inclusive shopping, dining, and entertainment center. Here will you find Ripley’s Aquarium, where you can pet stingrays at the Ray Bay, or watch as sharks swim overhead in the Dangerous Reef, a 750,000 gallon tank; and MagiQuest, where kids of all ages can turn into a Magi and participate in interactive games. The somewhat similar Barefoot Landing (www.bflanding.com) features Alligator Adventure, filled with alligators, crocodiles, and snakes; and T.I.G.E.R.S, where you can get up close to a tiger or cub. If you have little ones, they will enjoy a spin on the carousel. End the evening with the Ghost and Legends show, or visit an amusement park. At the Family Kingdom Amusement Park (843-626-3447; www.family-kingdom.com) you can ride the Swamp Fox wooden roller coaster. If that is too tame for you, then try the new Sling Shot Drop Zone, a 110-foot free fall. Cool off next door at the water park or fulfill your need for speed at the Nascar Speed Park (www.nascarspeedpark.com).

BROOKGREEN GARDENTake a breather from the hustle of Myrtle Beach and head about 10 miles south to Murrells Inlet (www.murrellsinletsc.com), known as the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina.” Enjoy the newly built 1,400-foot marsh walk that takes you through the wetlands for a closer view of the wildlife. You can further enjoy the outdoors with an adventure through Captain Dick’s (866-557-3474; www.captdicks.com), which offers deep-sea fishing, dolphin watching and exploring saltwater marshes charters.

Located between Murrells Inlet and Pawley’s Island is Brookgreen Garden (800-849-1931; www.brookgreen.org). The National Historic Landmark was once a plantation. Today it is broken down into two sections: a sculpture garden and a wildlife preserve. Huntington Sculpture Garden features over 900 works, including some from the original owner. The Lowcountry History and Wildlife Preserve allow you to view animals in their natural habitat. Take an ATV tour, a creek excursion, or hike the trails to learn more about the garden and its surroundings.

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

The Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.myrtlebeachinfo.com) has everything you need to know about the area. Search for accommodations, restaurants, and other activities.