Bob Gillespie



Golf and history: Georgetown offers tourist attractions and nearby courses

Posted 12/29/2013 2:06:00 PM

Anyone who has visited South Carolina’s Grand Strand, with its 100-plus golf courses and a variety of accommodations and eating options, knows what the Myrtle Beach lifestyle is like. But not everyone who visits the area as part of a golf vacation craves a place next to the Atlantic Ocean; some prefer a community setting with plenty of historic attractions and a cozy, small-town feel.

If you prefer seeing such sites instead of sunbathing during your off-the-course hours, here’s a possibility: Visit historic Georgetown, one of the oldest coastal cities in South Carolina – and where many of the golf courses in Myrtle Beach’s “South End” are just a short drive north on U.S. 17.

In fact, while the city of Georgetown has just one golf course, the marsh-dotted Wedgefield Plantation, Georgetown County is jam-packed with golf options – including some of the highest-rated courses in the area and all of South Carolina.

The list of places to play is almost endless, but to keep things relaxed and simple, the easiest way to explore the area’s golf is to check out the 11 championship courses that make up the Waccamaw Golf Trail. The trail (the name comes from the Indian word for the coastal area between Georgetown and Litchfield Beach) includes three of “America’s Top 100 Public Courses,” one of Golf for Women magazine’s “Top 25 in America” (women-friendly courses), six courses rated 4 ½ stars by Golf magazine and one of only three 5-star courses in the Southeastern U.S.

Here’s a look at some of the top courses located along the Waccamaw Golf Trail:

Caledonia Golf & Fish Club – Opened in 1995 and, along with sister course True Blue Plantation, designed by famed late architect Mike Strantz, the course was built on the site of a former rice plantation and reflects Strantz’s artist background in both its design and beauty. Caledonia opened as No. 5 on Golf Digest’s “Best New Public Courses In America,” ranked 26th in Golf magazine’s “Top 100 You Can Play” in 2004, and was listed in Golf Digest’s “Top 31 Best Upscale Courses in America” from 1996-2005.

True Blue, ranked “No. 1 in the Myrtle Beach Area” by Golf Digest and named to the magazine’s “Top 100 Greatest Public Courses,” has much of the same gorgeous design as Caledonia, while players argue which is the more difficult.

While Strantz’s duo dominates most “must play” lists, TPC of Myrtle Beach is the lone 5-star course along the Grand Strand. Designed by Tom Fazio in partnership with former PGA Tour player Lanny Wadkins, TPC once hosted the Senior Tour Championship and was home course for S.C. superstar Dustin Johnson during his Coastal Carolina college career and afterward.

Pawleys Plantation, a classic Lowcountry design, is one of two Jack Nicklaus creations in Myrtle Beach; Blackmoor Golf Club is Gary Player’s lone signature course along the Grand Strand; Litchfield Country Club, Willbrook and Tradition Golf Club form a Litchfield triumvirate; and River Club, designed by S.C. native Tom Jackson, holds down a 4 1/2-star rating. Other courses on the Waccamaw Trail include The Heritage Club and Wachesaw Plantation East.

Once your round of golf each day is done, Georgetown beckons, with its downtown area bouncing back from a devastating fire that destroyed several historic buildings but failed to diminish the town’s riverfront charm.

Where to stay? The Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort is a favorite of visitors to the south end, but if you want to be minutes from the city’s restaurants and sights, Georgetown has a number of hotels convenient to both golf and downtown (and in most cases less expensive rates than the beach).

Among the choices are The Keith House Inn, a bed-and-breakfast at 1012 Front St. near the waterfront; Mansfield Plantation Bed & Breakfast; and, on Church Street, the Carolinian Inn, the Hampton Inn Georgetown-Marina, Baymont Inn and Suites Georgetown, Harbor Inn and the Quality Inn & Suites. All are located near the bridge leading northeast on U.S. 17 toward Myrtle Beach and mere minutes from Waccamaw Golf Trail’s courses.

It’s the best of both worlds: Myrtle Beach golf and Georgetown charm and intimacy, within easy driving distance. For more information, click here or here.