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Solid Myrtle Beach golf doesn't have to break the bank

Ian GuerinBy Ian Guerin,
Wild Wing Plantation - Avocet golf course - 6th
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Save money by making the drive to Wild Wing Plantation to play the outstanding Avocet Course. (Courtesy of Wild Wing Plantation)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- South Carolina's Grand Strand has its elite golf courses.

They're known by travelers in and out of the country and attract tournaments and business outings as perk packages. More often than not, they also carry price tags in the triple digits -- regardless of season.

The more economical end of the spectrum, though, doesn't necessarily mean a pure sacrifice of the game. Without GPS-enabled carts or crystal trophies in the clubhouse, there are solid rounds of golf in Myrtle Beach that far exceed the accompanying low-dollar greens fees.

Sure, maybe they don't have the acclaim of various ratings panels. That doesn't mean they don't provide some memorable holes and rounds.

Here are four Myrtle Beach-area golf courses that have withstood the test of time without taking a significant chunk out the bank account.

Wild Wing Plantation, Myrtle Beach

Actually outside of city limits, this course is closer to the Horry County seat (Conway). It's close enough to the heart of the Grand Strand, however, to make the short drive down U.S. 501 worth the trek for those staying on the beach.

Formerly three separate 18-hole courses, the current Wild Wing is a pared down version, taking what were viewed as the best options from those 72 holes (within proximity reason, of course) to form the 18-hole Avocet Course and the nine-hole Hummingbird Course.

While the latter has the feel of an executive course on certain holes, there's nothing gimmicky about the Avocet.

The 7,127-yard track is a little more than a decade removed from earning some top honors from around the state. After a major greens renovation in 2011, the course's overall look and feel has gotten back to some of that same playability.

General James Hackler Course, Conway

The unofficial home site of Coastal Carolina University's NCAA Division I golf team, the General James Hackler Course has more going for it than most courses in its price range.

For starters, a 2011 redesign by Craig Schreiner and subsequent rebranding (it was formerly named Quail Creek) has infused new challenges. On top of that, turf and course-management programs at both neighboring schools means much of the cost for keeping up it up to snuff aren't passed on to those swinging the sticks.

Both groups now find a trimmed down version of the course that originally opened in 1968. Several holes are significantly shorter; the course is now less than 7,000 yards from the back tees. The Hackler was also made more player friendly when more than 60 bunkers were removed earlier this decade.

Those subtractions increased pace of play, for those learning to run the game or those simply playing it.

Indigo Creek Golf Club, Murrells Inlet

Most mid-to-low handicappers can take on Indigo Creek Golf Club from the back tees just as they would the whites without noticing much of a difference.

While nearly 600 yards is added to the overall distance between those two starting points, navigating Indigo Creek is more about finding the landing areas. It's a good feeling, considering major touch-up work on tee boxes, fairways and tree lines means the snags of the Willard Byrd design are more true to the game.

The first few holes will ease you into the round before upping the challenge on the final 10. Starting on no. 9, players face the top handicap and then three of the course's more eye-opening holes on 11, 12 and 14.

The course has started to attract members from a number of neighboring courses that didn't fair so well, all while keeping a price tag that's light on the wallet.

Palmetto Course at Myrtlewood Golf Club, Myrtle Beach

While nearly all of the courses in the area can boast some water influence, no. 18 at Myrtlewood Golf Club's Palmetto Course is among the handful in the area playing parallel to the Intracoastal Waterway.

The 377-yard par 4 (from the whites) dips off the tee before rising back to a bunker-protected green.

The view down the left fairway is motivation enough to snap a few shots before closing the round.

The first 17 holes may not have the same photo-happy mystique. But where they join the finale is in crisp design originally opened in the mid-1960s and holding true over time.

If you find a fairway, you're going to have a great lie. If you miss, you don't immediately have to dig through your bag for another ball.

That is, unless you hook it into the Intracoastal.

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General James Hackler golf course  - 1stIndigo Creek Golf Club - hole 10Palmetto Course at Myrtlewood Golf Club - hole 17

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.

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