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You Thought Beach? Golf Myrtle Beach Is The New Game
You Thought Beach? Golf Myrtle Beach Is The New Game
Many families are familiar with the Grand Strand, that famed beachfront area of South Carolina that encompasses 12 happy communities and lots of resort hotels, condominiums and restaurants. It's been less than a year since a 1.2-mile-long boardwalk was built to replace one damaged in a 1950s hurricane, and Myrtle Beach has never been more popular.
Dolly Parton has segued from Country Western to pirates, and is reopening the former Dixie Stampede dinner theater as Pirates Voyage, something that's sure to be good after-hours entertainment for the kids. And coming soon to augment the fun is the Myrtle Beach Skywheel, a 76-foot-tall Ferris Wheel whose 42 gondolas will be climate controlled so you can admire the Atlantic Ocean views all year round.
Golf is the New Beach in Myrtle Beach
But we're talking about golf, a big sport in a region where 50 of the local 102 golf courses allow children accompanying parents to play for free. Fifty!
Seven of the courses are among Golf Digest's "100 Top Courses" as well, and during non-peak hours, green fees can be as low as $50 or $60. During special events and holidays, when kids golf fee with parents, the green fees may be as low as $35 per pair, making a half-day golf outing in Myrtle Beach's crisp, ocean-misted air a total bargain.
No one in the family has to be an expert golfer, because Myrtle Beach is also a great place to learn the sport. Many of area's pro's are well known golfers, and some, like Ted Frick of the Classic Swing Golf School, relish the opportunity to do Junior Golf Clinics and Family tournaments. Classic Swing (800/827-2656) is one of the area's most elaborate practice facilities with lights for night play. It is located at the Legends facility, 1500 Legends Drive, Myrtle Beach, SC 29579 and was selected by Golf Magazine as the "Most Affordable Top 25 Golf School" in America.
Frick himself has been honored as the South Carolina PGA Section "Teacher of the Year"
Myrtle Beach Mini-Golf Isn't Only for Pint-Size Golfers
Serious golfers don't take minigolf very seriously, but mini-golf fans do. Therefore, it makes sense that the golf capital of the South (the locals actually call it the "Golf Capital of the World") should host the U.S. Pro Mini Golf Association Tournament (843/458-2585) each year in Myrtle Beach.
The host course is Hawaiian Rumble whose centerpiece is a fantastic volcano which erupts in flames approximately every 20 minutes. This course, selected by the USPMGA as the number one miniature golf course in the world, is the home of the Masters Tournament played each fall. Hawaiian Rumble has two sister courses - Hawaiian Caverns in Myrtle Beach (home of the US Open each May), and Hawaiian Village in North Myrtle Beach. At all courses, golfers are greeted with a warm "Aloha" and a lei to get into the island spirit.
Off the Greens and Away from the Strand
For off-green and off-beach outings, plan time to visit Brookgreen Gardens, an enormous landscaped garden known for its collection of outdoor sculpture and native wildlife. Your tiniest travelers will especially like a walk around quiet Murrell's Inlet Marsh, where you can admire boats in the marina or stop for a seafood meal.
With all the fishing found along the coast and waterways, this region has become known for its Calabash seafood, a style of cooking fresh seafood -- lightly battered and deep fried to perfection -- that originated in Calabash, North Carolina. Kids just love it. A Southern style Low Country cuisine featuring seafood or chicken, rice or grits, and slowly cooked, is also popular. Expect to find dishes flavored with spices, beans and locally grown peas, served with tomato sauce or gravy.
At Little River Marina on the Intracoastal, there are lots of fishing boats and indoor/outdoor seafood restaurants. Another popular place for dinner is the 2nd Avenue Pier at 2nd Avenue North and Ocean Blvd, serving continental fare and seafood, along with good local microbrews. The outdoor deck with its view of local fishermen is fun in nice weather.
For older children, plan a night game of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, a Class A affiliate baseball team of the Texas Rangers. Teens learning how to drive will appreciate your investing in an afternoon at the NASCAR Speedpark, where they can take out go-karts and practice their skills.
Trip Planning Details for Myrtle Beach Golfers
Is everyone in the family a full-size or mini-golf player? Whether they are or they're not, a beachfront resort is perfect for any family vacation. Kingston Plantation, a 145-acre resort featuring the 255-suite oceanfront Embassy Suites hotel, as well as other towers full of condominiums and villas, is just that type of place. Well suited to family vacations, the Embassy Suites combines views of the Grand Strand with some hotel-style pampering and the comforts of home.
Families will appreciate that the lushly landscaped property offers many types of activities, including Splash!, said to be one of the best waterparks in the U.S. This part of the resort features a Caribbean family water playground complete with water slides, lazy river, water spouts, arch jets, rope showers, pipe falls, a tunnel, bucket conveyors and multi-person water pumps, water screws and more. The highlight of the facility is a six-foot dump bucket, which gradually fills with water until it tilts onto a roof and showers down hundreds of gallons of sparkling water at regular intervals.
Embassy Suites are always a spacious and comfortable way to sleep the family, with a queen sofabed in the living area of even the smallest units. Families can take advantage of a daily complimentary buffet breakfast with everything from pancakes to oatmeal and a managerís cocktail reception every evening. You won't have to leave this resort to find indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a fitness club, tennis courts, a variety of restaurans, and yes, an adjacent 18-hole golf course.
A family alternative is staying at one of the Sands Resorts, a complex of six oceanfront resorts with more than 1600 guest rooms. Each hotel is including free admission to the resorts' new Diamondback Adventure Camp (adjacent to the Diamondback Golf Course) in their 2011 rates. Camp activities include horseback riding, archery, shooting, climbing walls, a zip line, and fly fishing among other activities. All activities are counselor supervised and include instructions from experienced staff. Golf instruction, driving range practice and full rounds of golf are available to parents and teens. The Myrtle Beach golf course / summer camp includes a full snack bar, mesquite grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, and a pro shop with supplies for all activities including logoed hats and T-shirts.
In recent years, the resort has increased its facilities for families. In addition to the Diamondback Adventure Camp, the company added a full waterpark at Sand Dunes Resort & Spa, weekly fireworks at Ocean Annie's in the Sands Ocean Club Resort, and magic shows and an inflatables playground at Ocean Dunes.