Bob Gillespie



New and seasoned: Golf Digest spotlights Myrtle Beach “buddy trips”

Posted 12/29/2013 2:56:00 PM

It’s a tradition almost as old as golf itself: the “buddy trip,” when avid golfers leave behind their familiar (and, this time of year, often snowed-over) courses for a restorative getaway to a site where golf is the main event. Golf Digest recognizes this fact of golfing life, and in its January 2014 issue, now on shelves, its “Compare & Contrast” feature takes a look at three terrific locations – including South Carolina’s golf heaven, Myrtle Beach.

In a change of pace, though, the magazine didn’t merely spotlight courses, accommodations and meals/entertainment at each (the others being Ireland and Oregon’s Bandon Dunes). Instead, Golf Digest’s writers experienced two different buddy trips at each location; in the case of Myrtle Beach, one group was for seasoned travelers familiar with the Grand Strand, while the other consisted of rookies to the beach.

Heading up the veterans was writer Alex Myers, taking part in an annual guys’ outing called the HGGA Championship (“don’t ask,” he warns) that had planned to go elsewhere before the event’s director “stumbled onto an unbeatable deal. So back we went, not that any of us complained,” Myers writes. Myrtle Beach golf is “like going to your favorite chain restaurant; you might not be blown away but … you always leave satisfied.”

The Myers crew (six players) spent five days and four nights playing a Waccamaw Trail lineup of courses – Caledonia Golf & Fish Club (three rounds), Pawleys Plantation (two rounds), True Blue Plantation, TPC Myrtle Beach and Blackmoor; that’s 36 holes per day – while staying at True Blue Resort Villas. Cost for it all (golf, lodging and food/beverage): about $1,000 per man.

Meanwhile, writer Peter Finch led a crew of 12, including several newcomers, on a three-day, three-night adventure to Barefoot Resort’s Love Course, Pine Lakes, Grande Dunes Resort and the five-star TPC Myrtle Beach, staying at Camelot by the Sea. Cost: $973 per player. The difference in cost is attributable to the Finch group playing fewer days, but in “high season” (April) while the Myers group went in summer when “you can play for about 33 percent less,” he writes.

The trips differed in other ways, too – the Myers group drove from their Northeast homes while the Finch team flew; Myers’ players stayed on-course while Finch’s stayed oceanfront; and the Myers team took advantage of replays, while Finch’s did not. In each instance, the writer details the pluses and minuses of each situation. For example, on the good and not-so-good of flying to Myrtle Beach: Pro – “There are direct flights from more than 25 cities. The airport is small and manageable.” Con – “There’s something about a buddies trip by car. It has to do with camaraderie, classic rock and possibly claustrophobia.”

Bottom line: the results were two groups of satisfied (and sated) golfers. “The location for our next trip is TBD, but Myrtle Beach is one site that can never be counted out,” Myers writes. “There really isn’t any other place like it on earth … No doubt about it, we’ll be back,” Finch concluded.

In addition to the Myrtle Beach, Ireland and Bandon Dunes reviews, Golf Digest lists its top 36 buddy’s trip destinations. No surprise: South Carolina is home to three of them – Charleston/Kiawah Island (No. 12), Myrtle Beach (No. 14) and Hilton Head Island (No. 21). To see the entire ratings, click here. For other Golf Digest stories on past Myrtle Beach buddy trips, click here.