the Big Beach
golfers where the hottest destination is for travelling golfers
is, and the typical answer would probably be Myrtle Beach, South
Carolina. This area is renowned for having a stretch of golf courses
and a stretch of land built especially for the purpose of sizzling
the golfing senses.
It all started
two decades ago when course developer Larry Young arrived in Myrtle
Beach to build a golf course in an area called the Grand Strand.
The course triggered interest with many designers and investors
and exploded into the creation of many upscale layouts. Since then,
anybody whoís anybody in the golf designing business has left their
mark on the area.
of courses are easy accessible from the main thoroughfare US 17
that runs all the way through to the North Carolina border and the
longest drive from this road to a golf course is 20 minutes. Another
great thing about the area is the range of golf that still remains
because Larry Young wanted to build courses that appealed to retirees
and bargain hunters, and big companies want to build exclusive clubs,
so you have both.
course I tackled was the one that started it all. Marsh Harbour
Golf Club was designed by Dan Maples and opened in 1980 with
rave reviews from everyone that travelled the extra 10 minutes
over the state line. The layout is a challenging one with some
holes weaving through marshland and others plotting their way
around the Intracoastal Waterway. While I enjoyed the challenge,
I tried to imagine the excitement of arriving at a property
this and plotting out a golf course on your mind. For anyone
who loves the serenity of the golf course, that feeling must
be remarkable. The nearby Oyster Bay was the next course to
be built two years later and boasts an even better challenge
which is still seen as a must for the area.
around the courses which started all this golfing pleasure for so
many visitors, I decide to head to a development which is quite
the opposite. Imagine this- four great designers (Pete Dye, Tom
Fazio, Greg Norman and Davis Love), a generous expanse of land (2,300
acres) and plenty of cash to take care of all the expenses. The
result is the Barefoot Resort, the biggest and most lucrative project
to ever hit the area which opened this year. The most interesting
course seems to be the Love course which trundles itís way around
castle ruins (some of them coming into play) and seems to have adopted
a links course influence.
course looks a lot like Augusta with pines, wide fairways and sloping
greens and the Dye course is the toughest with itís length of over
7,500 being the main reason. This resort is the latest in series
of developments designed to create even more interest in this part
of the world, and should add nicely to the other 300 or so other
courses that make up the Myrtle Beach golf experience.
next stop is away from the coast and out to a lovely resort
and residential island which held a little event called the
Ryder Cup in 1991. This of course is Kiawah Island, where itís
Ocean Course blends and swirls around the sand dunes with a
man made touch
master designer Pete Dye. There are many courses on offer here
and range in character from isolated links to lush swampland.
Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus both offer layouts here and Osprey
Point and Turtle Point are little gems in every sense, but because
of obvious reasons, the Ocean Course is the pick of the crop.
shows off in some places and it is definitely the case in this part
of the world. The morning sky is a wonderful pink glow and changes
throughout the day as you mingle with herons, alligators and egrets
amongst the marsh.
off the South Carolina experience properly, a visit to Charleston
(the capital) should not be ruled out. Charlestonians have been
playing the game since the 1700ís when it was all taking shape in
Scotland, and with 20 private and public courses in the area, there
is game for everyone.
area has many gems to choose from like Charleston National,
Dunes West and Wild Dunes in the Isle of Palms to name only
three. I choose to play a course which presents a challenge
that feels very close to home Ė namely the Links course at the
Wild Dunes resort. The name stays fantastically true to form
with sand dunes
carpet fairways linking together in scenic, and challenging
fashion. A real treat.
After a complete
overload of the golfing senses with carries over alligators, drives
hanging against an ocean backdrop and triple breaking putts on lovely
surfaces, the time is right for a quiet walk on the beach or good
meal with friends. South Carolina offers all the sweet things in
life, in great abundance.
Oyster Bay- (£40-65) 001
803 530 1875
Barefoot Resort- (£55-80) 001
843 361 3145
Kiawah Island- (£40-80) 001
803 768 2121
Wild Dunes- (£30-50) 001
803 856 9000
Charleston National (£40-70) 001
803 884 7799