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|Myrtle Beach National's West Course represents some of the best value on the Grand Strand. (Courtesy of MBN)|
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- Myrtle Beach National is a regular stop for Bill Allen.
Located just a 10-minute drive south on U.S. 501 from the center of Myrtle Beach, MBN's West Course is regularly offered in promotional package deals that make tee times here some of the best value on the Grand Strand.
But while the distance and the price are perks, Allen didn't beat around the bush on why he's there at least three times a month.
"If the golf course sucked, I wouldn't come," said Allen, an 8-handicap. "All three courses here at Myrtle Beach National are typically in as good or better shape than most of the golf courses around here. They're always in top-notch shape, even when everyone else has gone to pot.
"It's always in 'A' condition," Allen said. "That's why I play here. It's close; it's cheap. But it's always in great shape. It's a no-brainer for me."
This Carolina Forest-area course doesn't have the mystique of others in the area. Instead, it prides itself on being exactly what it says it is.
"It doesn't beat you up," Head Professional Michael Burnside said. "A lot of people come back. It's just a good golf course to get out and enjoy yourself."
From the get-go, players at Myrtle Beach National's West Course are going to find something enjoyable.
"It's a good, solid, honest par five with a lot of room so you can shake out the cobwebs real early," Allen said of the opening hole.
Opportunities to test out the driver don't end there, though.
Nos. 6 and 10, two of the other three par-five holes on the course, are almost straightaway from tee box to green. All but one of the par 4s are also driver friendly.
"You can get up on the tee and rip it. There aren't any holes with a ton of water," Burnside said. "They can find their ball and get it back in play."
The biggest benefit of almost every hole on the golf course, however, is for the golfer who doesn't hit every drive dead center. Tree lines, while relatively ample, are clear-cut at the base, meaning finding the random stray shot is not difficult.
Translation: You're not going to break your wallet on golf balls. That goes for all skill levels.
The championship tees on Myrtle Beach National's West Course play at about 6,800 yards, with the whites at 6,100 and the ladies tees at 5,300.
"I can't think of a hole that was all that bad," said first-time West Course player Bonnie Boehlke, a high handicapper. "If I had to hit over water or wasteland, that doesn't work so much for me; I can't get enough loft on my ball. But I think for the average golfer, it's a good course -- and even for the good golfers. The blue tees are forever back."
The biggest difference for the blue and white tees comes on a trio of doglegs – Nos. 12, 14 and 17. On each of those, cutting the corner is nearly impossible, yet, a short drive could leave you in a bad position as well. Those doglegs are one design element that make up for the lack of other hazards.
Boehlke, who has played Myrtle Beach National's Southcreek course before, had only one major critique of the West.
"Some of the greens need some work," she said. "Other than that, I think it's a really great course."
Soon, that excuse to avoid the course will be gone, too. Like the work on Southcreek that made the greens about as true as any in the area, the West Course greens will undergo a transformation to a Bermuda mix this summer.
That will put the destination zones back on par with what are finely manicured tee boxes and fairways.
Myrtle Beach National has a large driving range, putting green and chipping area located alongside a full-service clubhouse, complete with a bar and grill with a full menu of food and drink options. Once on the golf course, water fountains and beverage carts were readily available on both nines.
Instruction is limited almost entirely to individual sessions, with Assistant Professional Ryan Roddy taking on most of that responsibility.
Given that it is consistently among the best buys in Grand Strand golf, it's hard to imagine how the West Course at Myrtle Beach National is not backed up. A recent round took less than 3 hours and 45 minutes, and while that's not necessarily the norm, it's also clear you're not going to be waiting.
There are two reasons for that. First, there's the aforementioned ability for the average player to keep up pace of play by not having to spend extra time searching for errant shots.
And secondly, it appears most of the course's golfers are like Allen. Repeat customers love what they've come to expect, and it continues to give them reasons to return time after time.
March 25, 2011
Ian Guerin is a freelance writer and DJ living in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He's decent with the driver and putter; it's everything else in the bag that gives him trouble. Follow Ian on Twitter at @iguerin.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
Referred to by its hosts as a "hidden gem," the greens alone at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, Calif. make this a stone worth turning over. Located an hour northwest of L.A., it's a pleasing, quiet and generally engaging round that will appease players of all levels.
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