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|Meadowlands Golf Club has a good collection of par 3s, along with reasonable green fees. (Tim McDonald/WorldGolf.com)|
CALABASH, N.C. - The Meadowlands Golf Club is one of those mid-tier Grand Strand golf experiences that's easy on your wallet and scorecard, with some nice scenery thrown in as a bonus.
The fact that the golf course has been around so long is a testament to how friendly and easy-going folks here are.
The regulars and a good share of newcomers keep coming back, even though Meadowlands isn't exactly easy to get to; it's 25 miles from the Myrtle Beach golf mecca proper, over the state line into the pastoral loveliness of southern North Carolina.
"It's always in decent shape," said Jim Neighbors of northern Virginia, who usually includes Meadowlands on his regular forays to the Grand Strand. "I put a lot of stock in people, and they're friendly out there. They accommodate you. Even in the high density times, they'll work with you and get you on."
Green fees are in the $40 range this time of year - cheaper with the various player cards available - and never more than $84 when the Strand is at its frenzied feeding time peak.
For that, you get a hard-working starter, attentive cart girls and a good course with some tricky and interesting holes. The conditioning is fine - not up to snuff with the more upscale, higher-end courses of Myrtle Beach - but you'll find little to really complain about.
Meadowlands is about a mile from its sister course, Farmstead Golf Links, which is well-known for its 600-yard-plus par 5. Whereas Farmstead is a more open links-style course, Meadowlands is generally described as parkland, though it also has its fair share of open areas, befitting its name.
There are also some areas, those that are away from all the houses, which are considerable in spots, that have fine views of the surrounding marshes and freshwater lakes, where no home could be built.
The course is 7,054 yards from the back tees for the heavy hitters, but most people take it on from the green or white tees, where the distances shrink considerably.
Most of the fairways are tree-lined, though, with very manageable fairways. Most of the obstacles come in the form of bunkers, trees and water. There are some water carries, especially on the par 3s, but much of the water lies adjacent to the fairways, in many cases unseen, hidden by mounds or trees.
"I like this course better," Neighbors said. "No 600-yard par 5s."
It's difficult to talk about Meadowlands without going into some of its history. This isn't a big, profit-mongering facility by a big developer.
It's a course built by farmers. In fact, Louis Allen and Pollie Drisdale Benton McLamb raised 11 children near what is now the seventh green.
One of those children, Willie Joe, went on to become a judge and state legislator. He and his grandsons built the course and tried to stay true to the surrounding community, in terms of architecture.
The clubhouse, for example, is based on an early 20th century farmhouse, with its rough exterior and expansive porches.
It was actually designed, though, by golf architect Willard Byrd, a name well-known around these parts.
It's a course seniors and women can enjoy. Golf for Women's magazine named it in its list of top 100 courses for women.
The bentgrass greens are excellent, with some having some fairly demanding slope. There are some reachable par 5s, some dogleg par-4 birdie holes and the collection of par 3s is very good.
The Island Vista is where you want to be if you love the sound of waves crashing on the beach right outside your room. The property has been in Myrtle Beach since the 1980s under various names, its newest incarnation opening last year.
It's right smack dab on the beach, in a quiet, affluent neighborhood - no loud honking on Highway 17 to interrupt your beauty sleep.
"We're very fortunate to have such a location," said Island Vista Controller Julia Singleton. "It's a residential neighborhood, and even in the summer, the beach is never really crowded."
All of the more than 500 units are individually owned, and most are available for rental. The Island Vista has one, two, three and four bedroom suites, perfect for families or golf groups.
All of the units have their own private balconies, and all have ocean views. There is daily maid service, something that can't always be counted on with condos of this sort. The larger units have granite countertops, full kitchens and Jacuzzis. Each bedroom has a private bathroom and a TV. The units also have high-speed Internet access.
The property caters to golfers with an on-site golf director and has a meeting room that can hold up to 160 people, decorated with antique flourishes.
There is an excellent restaurant, the Cypress Room, which serves breakfast and dinner. Lunch options are available on the patio and pool bar during summer months.
The Island Vista has a large, indoor/outdoor pool, including a "lazy river," and over 500 feet of beach. There are children's activities and a small fitness room. Call (800) 854-5426 for more info.
February 6, 2008
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
The term hidden gem is used a lot when talking about golf courses. But in the case of Laughlin Ranch Golf Club, it's more. A whole lot more. This one's like striking gold. Laughlin Ranch, located about 90 minutes south of Las Vegas, is a David Druzisky design that weaves its way over and around desert landscaping. The par-72 course features dramatic elevation changes, more than 70 bunkers and just enough water features to whet (or wet) the appetite.
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