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|Tradition Golf Club is among the bargain plays on the south end of South Carolina's Grand Strand. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)|
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- The south end of South Carolina's Grand Strand is known for some of its high-end golf courses.
That doesn't mean those are the only options. Between Surfside Beach, Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, players can find courses that will offer a quality round without paying through the nose. Here are a few suggested plays ...
Tradition Golf Club is surrounded by some top-dollar courses.
With three golf courses that charge upwards of $200 per round just down the street, Tradition wasn't going to get very far charging too much to play.
"We've always had pretty decent comments, given the other courses in the area," said Kevin Williamson, the head professional at Tradition. "We've always been the mid-price (round), getting more golfers."
The course went through a recent aerification, but other than that, the day-to-day maintenance at Tradition has kept it relatively popular during a downtime in the sport that resulted in about 20 Myrtle Beach-area courses shutting their doors.
Williamson and the rest of the staff at Tradition have made sure this course doesn't fall into that category.
Even during the off-peak times, 2011 has proved to be a solid year, and much of that can be attributed to the low rates available at Tradition.
"Everything so far has been pretty decent," Williamson said. "It's starting to slow down now, given the heat. But it's a lot better than 2010."
John Daly may not be making many waves on the PGA tour lately, but that doesn't mean his style of game is growing out of fashion.
Wicked Stick Golf Links, located off one of the main state highways just south of Myrtle Beach, has remained a popular course in the area, and in part due to its low rates and no-fuss approach to the game.
The golf course is notorious for accommodating large groups -- not only in getting them out on the first tee box but also in terms of cost.
Like with any Daly course, expect this one to be one of the longer ones most golfers will face.
The daring can take their game all the way back to the "Daly" tees, a set of golds that play at 7,001 yards. There's also the championship (6,507 yards) and back tees, which play at a more manageable 6,080 yards.
Regardless of which tees a player takes, though, Wicked Stick can be ultra-forgiving off the box. The wide-open fairways allow for fewer balls lost in woods, meaning players can save a few bucks on that end, too.
The "grip it and rip it" course promotes itself as the most popular stop among Myrtle Beach golf courses, and the everyman feel to the course and clubhouse certainly backs that up.
Rolling along the Waccamaw River and tucked away from the hustle of Myrtle Beach, players find a comforting setting for a round at Blackmoor Golf Club.
The Murrells Inlet course is Gary Player's lone Grand Strand-area design, and his name has often help put Blackmoor in an elite class when locals speak of the course. Yet, the course has kept rates extremely affordable, regardless of season.
In addition to manageable costs, Blackmoor also helps those playing with younger golfers by allowing children to play free with every paid adult. It's a dying tradition on the Grand Strand, but Blackmoor has kept that going.
For the money, players will receive a round that can be either extremely challenging or simply light hearted, depending on how aggressive each golfer decides to get. Blackmoor totes itself as one that will force players to use every club in their bag. With that in mind, golfers are warned not to immediately pull out the driver on every par 5 and par 4.
Those who don't heed the advice find trouble; those who do are able to subtract strokes.
Either golfer will find it won't be a high-priced round.
It's been more than a decade, but Wachesaw Plantation East still has what General Manager Rob Mosser describes as one heck of an ice breaker on his side.
From 1997-2000, WPE hosted four LPGA Tour events of three different names. And to this day, it remains one of only a handful of Grand Strand golf courses to be able to say it hosted a tournament from one of the three biggest tours.
"I would say it's a great conversation starter on our end," Mosser said. "We have various LPGA (paraphernalia) and a trophy case here at the clubhouse.
"We feel that says a lot about the layout of the golf course."
Talk of the various tour events still comes up from time to time, and the course still uses that information in some of its promotional materials. Yet, at the same time, the course has not taken a snooty attitude.
Mosser makes it clear that history can't dictate price. Rounds for Wachesaw Plantation East can be found for as low as the high $30 range.
All the while, the course's playability remains quite high.
"We've adjusted price, primarily based on supply and demand in our area," Mosser said. "We feel we provide a very good value. The course is in very good shape year-round."
Not too long ago, Indian Wells Golf Club dumped a whole bunch of cash into its 18 holes.
The club's owners, the Classic Golf Group, decided it wanted Indian Wells to return to the status that earned it numerous awards throughout the years. It just so happens that it was going to rely on that newly built reputation to earn player respect and repeat play -- as opposed to simply charging more.
The golf course implemented new Bermuda Grass, cart paths and a new clubhouse for before and after rounds. It added up to the Surfside Beach course's rejuvenation that has put it back among the best mid-tiered courses on the Grand Strand.
GPS-enabled carts spoil players; difficult water hazards and tree placement frustrate them just the same. And that's even before you get to the par-4 No. 18.
At 383 yards from the white tees, the hole is rated as the hardest at Indian Wells. And it has long since been a member of the Myrtle Beach Dream 18, a set of the most challenging and fun in the area.
June 23, 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.
Finding a golf course to play in the Sarasota/Bradenton area 45 miles south of Tampa is easy. World-ranked beaches, European-style boutique shopping and al fresco dining, and a fantastic circus museum are just a few of the choices available for off-course entertainment.
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