The three of us will never be mistaken for models from a Golf Digest photo shoot. I realized this as two of my best friends from college and I loaded up the car, embarking on that rite of passage second only to the Vegas bachelor party weekend in the pantheon of great “guys weekend” traditions — the golf vacation to Myrtle Beach
While, at a glance, I can pass for a fairly serious golfer (even though I’ve played with the same set of clubs since high school), my friends truly bear no resemblance. The first was dressed like he was heading to a skate park instead of a golf course, and the second had a mismatched set of clubs in a bag that looked like it belonged to Ben Hogan’s father.
Nevertheless, amidst frantic shouts of “shotgun,” we climbed in and programmed the GPS to take us from Greenville
to the Grand Strand
Our tee-time at Arcadian Shores
was an hour before check-in at our condo in Kingston Plantation
, so I made a call to find out if arriving early was an option. While some places would not consider a golf game a valid excuse for checking-in early, the good people at Kingston were more than happy to make arrangements for us. They even offered transportation to the course so we would not have to climb right back into the car so soon after arriving.
As it turns out, this was a common theme throughout the weekend — tremendous customer service at every turn. The great selection of courses might bring the golfers to Myrtle Beach, but I’m convinced it’s the hospitality that keeps them coming back year after year.
By mid-afternoon, we were unpacked and standing on the first tee of Arcadian Shores Golf Club
. Designed by Rees Jones
, Arcadian Shores was the perfect starting course for our group (and probably most golf vacation groups).
First off, its lush fairways, white sand bunkers and ample water constantly remind you that you are indeed on vacation, you are playing golf at the beach, and life is good. Secondly, Arcadian Shores strikes the perfect balance between being challenging for the experienced golfer, yet playable for the beginner.
In addition to being a great course, Arcadian also has a great selection of specials, including all-inclusive packages that make it incredibly easy and affordable to plan a weekend excursion.
Once night falls in Myrtle Beach, the endless selection of golf courses becomes an endless selection of restaurants and nightspots, but thanks to the advice of several locals, our decision for dinner was an easy one — Bimini's Oyster Bar
. Locals love the place and apparently like to recommend it to golfers, because the crowd was evenly split between the two.
While waiting at the bar for a table, we talked to another group of golfers who were down for the weekend. They grew up together in New Jersey and had been making their “Myrtle golf pilgrimage” (their words, not mine) since college. As best they could recall, they were on their 22nd annual trip.
While the friends go months throughout the year without staying in touch, they all know their Myrtle Beach weekend is a given.
We woke up Saturday morning ready to drive down and play River Club
, a beautiful Tom Jackson
-designed course in Pawleys Island
. Unfortunately, the dead battery in the car had other ideas. So, we made a few slight adjustments, and with only a few phone calls we had a new itinerary for the day. Yet another wonderful thing about Myrtle Beach … if you miss out on one great golf course, there are plenty more from which to choose.
The folks at Arrowhead Country Club
were great and squeezed us in with an afternoon tee time. With our morning free, we once again followed the local advice and ended up at Hot Stacks
, a Southern breakfast place where you can actually order Biscuits and Gravy with a side order of Biscuits and Gravy. Excellent.
After waking from a well-deserved food coma, we headed out to Arrowhead for our afternoon round. The entire experience was amazing — professional and courteous staff, great course design and beautiful conditions. There’s a reason why Arrowhead is one of the most popular courses for golf vacationers. (For more information on Arrowhead, check out my blog.)
The phones start ringing first thing on Sunday morning. Wives were calling to find out if we’d left. We had not. They weren’t happy.
So with only the promise of caffeine from the Dunkin Donuts across the street motivating us, we loaded the car and headed back up the road and, eventually, on our separate ways.
On the ride back, I thought back to the four vacationing childhood friends from the bar. I thought about their remarkable streak of 22 trips, and their steadfastness in continuing it year after year.
Then I thought about our own group and the conversation we’d had over beers the night before. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy to make the trip every year. Our lives would become increasingly hectic, more children would be born, more families created.
But we would try, because while it isn’t exactly Paris, we’ll always have Myrtle Beach.