Usually, a trip to Calabash, N.C., on a Myrtle Beach vacation has more to do with seafood than golf. Let’s be honest: Calabash seafood is reason enough to make the trek to the coast on its own. Having heard of the beauty of a golf course in town, too, I had to find out for myself. So I delayed the gratification of popcorn shrimp and hush puppies, at least until dinnertime.
I played 18 holes at Meadowlands Golf Club recently, and found, like many area courses, a pleasant experience. Meadowlands’ grounds are well-maintained, and, I’m told, play well regardless of time of year. In the short drive from Myrtle Beach, it felt as if I took a highway back a bit in time. Part of that is the gorgeous early-spring weather, with a nip in the air and warm sun. But the ambiance of this course isn’t an exaggeration, and that comes into play before you even set foot on the William Byrd and David Johnson design.
Meadowlands, first and foremost, lives up to its name. Built on former farmland, Meadowlands becomes a wonderful distraction that will slow your play. The views from anywhere on the course are incredible, with scenery highlighted by rolling hills and lakes. Creatively set in the natural undulations of the land, Meadowlands is every bit as demanding to play as it is wonderful to gaze upon. My playing partner, knowing of Meadowlands’ designation as a “Top 100 Women-Friendly Courses” by Golf For Women Magazine, brought her own curiosity to the course. As a “Top 10 Best New Courses” by North Carolina Magazine and the rare coastal course I’ve never played, I matched that yearning to learn just what Meadowlands was all about.
It’s a good sign when you finish 18 holes without a comment about conditions. From tee to green, in rough, nearly out of bounds and down every fairway, our attention remained on the next play. Never conditions. We both loved the play of fairways; if you played it true, you’d get just a little extra on the roll. Not a bit too fast. Just right. Any mistakes we – okay, I – made on the green were a simple matter of misplay, not conditions. You get the score you earn here.
Holes 1-3 give you all you can handle from the start. By the time we emerged at No. 4 with damage adequately managed, the challenge before us felt just right. Right enough that a couple of Par 5 holes felt reachable in two. I was right. The challenges are vast, but give you just enough hope to play with some fearlessness. My partner loved the open layout; I appreciated that hazards were well-defined, even if I wound up playing to them anyway.
It’s also a good sign that as you play, you never think about fees. The beauty, challenges and unique layout at Meadowlands bear your full attention. Another test: How often would I play this course if I lived here? Easily every other weekend, I surmised. Upkeep was on par for courses we’ve played at a much higher price.
Staff friendliness ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Everyone we encountered felt like they genuinely loved being there. I was amazed to learn there’d been a downpour a day before we arrived. There was very little evidence of that, which is a testament to the grounds crew. My playing partner had many questions, and I appreciated the staff at the pro shop showing willingness to ensure her experience was stellar. The customer service ranked right up there with courses nationwide I’ve visited that hang their hats on such.
Off-course facilities ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The snack bar was the perfect spot for a cold beer after our round. It’s a quaint place with friendly staff. Nothing pretentious about it. We could have stayed here all afternoon. The pro shop was also great, and I picked up a hat and polo as is customary for me at a new course. Both have become favorites since!
Pace of play ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
It wasn’t a busy morning for us, and we often felt we had the course to ourselves. That was ideal for a first visit. Especially on an early spring morning, it’s a literal breath of fresh air. We were fortunate to take our time and take in the beauty of this area. I’d like to come back in late summer and see how it feels then.
Meadowlands Golf Club has a scenic and wide-open layout without many quagmires or holes that make you want to curse. Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty of challenge here. It’s a gorgeous walk and conditioned such that you get what you deserve on your scorecard. I found adequate risk/reward holes, and appreciated the short Par-5 14th, although not at first! There was a tree leaning in the way no more than 100 yards from the tee box. As a lefty, the challenge of playing to a place I could reach the green in 2 was fun.
To my partner and me, Meadowlands Golf Club was a side trip on a getaway. I could see it as a destination, too. We’d love to come back to Myrtle Beach and spend a day in Calabash, trying a different approach to this beautiful course.
And rewarding ourselves with a Calabash buffet for dinner!