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|Each of the three courses of Mystical Golf has its own unique clubhouse, such as this castle from The Wizard. (Mike Bailey/TravelGolf)|
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- With names such as the The Wizard, The Witch and Man O' War, the golf has to be fun just to live up to their monikers. Put it in a Myrtle Beach setting and add some beach-side accommodations, and you've got a perfect three- or four-day golf escape.
The three golf courses are run by Mystical Golf (another appropriate name), headed up by Claude Pardue, an admitted marketing man who knows how to get your attention. Each of the aforementioned golf courses has its own unique clubhouse, theme and look. And the golf courses, though two share the same property, are completely different as well.
Pardue said he wants to create a magical experience for players, one where they want to return impressed by the layout of the courses, conditions and service. The courses and experiences there meet those expectations and then some.
Just as impressive are the package deals you can get. In the summer of 2010, for example, Mystical Golf was offering all three golf courses for as little as $128, and golf packages that included four nights of oceanfront rooms were going for as little as less than $200. Rates are higher in the spring and fall during peak season, but you can expect value.
The courses are designed by Dan Maples. And inside each clubhouse you'll find an inviting golf shop, excellent food and beverage service and friendly staff. Each course also has excellent practice facilities, and lessons are available from the helpful professional staff.
Somewhat reminiscent of the wind-swept links courses in Scotland and Ireland, The Wizard, which is on the same 36-hole property as Man O' War, has deep bunkers, fairways framed by mounding and large bentgrass greens.
While the course is no pushover, it is probably the most player-friendly of the three -- at least until you reach the last three holes, which all feature forced carries.
The par-4 16th has water trouble off the tee to the right and on the approach shot as well. The par-3 17th tee has a 60-foot drop onto a raised island green. And the par-4 No. 18 boasts an island tee, island fairway and peninsula green.
Besides the castle-style clubhouse, the golf course is also marked by several stone bridges, giving it a cool, old-world feel.
Many consider The Witch the best of the trio; it's certainly the most difficult.
The course was carefully laid out among 500 acres of tranquil cypress groves and wetlands, teeming with flora and fauna. It's also heavily tree-lined, meaning driving the ball well on this 6,702-yard par 71 is a necessary skill for success.
The course has 4,000 feet of bridges navigating you through the swamps of the front nine and rolling hills (yes, that's correct) of the back nine. There are no homes on the course, just pure golf.
One of the more unique aspects of the course are the tee markers, which are the small hardwood stumps that pierce through the water in the swamps. They resemble a witch's hat. "They're really neat, and they don't cost anything," Pardue said with a laugh.
There are lots of memorable holes on The Witch, including the par-4 second, which features the first of the course's many bridges over troubled water.
Built on a 100-acre lake carved into the water table, the par-72, 6,967-yard Man O' War course is probably more intimidating than it looks.
From above, it seems like there is water everywhere (even the clubhouse is built on stilts), but in reality, there is plenty of green grass on which to land your golf ball.
With that said, though, the 14th and 15th holes both feature island greens, and the entire ninth hole is encircled by a lake. In fact, water features touch every hole, helping it earn a 141 slope rating. Still, the shots are straight-forward and the bentgrass greens are huge, making it more than fair.
The Witch, Man O' War and The Wizard are in the heart of Grand Strand and within 15 minutes of Myrtle Beach International Airport, beaches, accommodations, restaurants and other attractions.
A short distance from I-95 and other major thoroughfares, Mystical Golf courses are easily accessible. More than two dozen cities -- including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington -- offer direct flights.
Probably one of the more underrated aspects of Myrtle Beach are its eateries. And while the area has somewhat of a blue collar reputation, there are several fine-dining restaurants.
The Library, for example, on North Kings Highway, will challenge your notion of Myrtle Beach dining. Everything on the menu is delectable, including the two ways duck is prepared. The restaurant also features an extensive wine list and fantastic desserts, including an impressive bananas Foster.
Over at the Barefoot Landing Golf Resort, you'll find Greg Norman's Australian Grille, a popular upscale restaurant that serves a variety of seafood, steak and poultry dishes. The restaurant offers a nice selection of wines, including Norman's own, of course, as well as draft beers from Greg's Pub.
And, finally, you could check out the Grand Central Station restaurant at the Patricia Grand Hotel right on the ocean. The restaurant has great views of the Atlantic and outstanding entrees, including Mahi Mahi ala Patricia, which is a grilled Mahi Mahi with pan-seared jumbo shrimp and sea scallops in a New Orleans-style cream sauce
Mystical Golf (www.MysticalGolf.com) has partnered with Oceana Resorts (which include the Patricia Grand Hotel) to offer a variety of stay-and-play packages with many of the accommodations right on the Atlantic Ocean. For the summer of 2010, Mystical Golf is offering its "Best Value" stay-and-play package, which includes three rounds of golf (one at each course) with lunch, four nights of oceanfront resort lodging and breakfast, and unlimited range balls. The packages start at $193 per person (double occupancy) and include taxes and fees. Cart fees are extra.
July 6, 2010
Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.
The Golf Advisor Top 50 courses in the U.S., compiled by ratings and reviews from golfers, were announced on Golf Channel's Morning Drive.
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