Some of the snobbier golf destinations condescendingly refer to Myrtle Beach as the “Wal-Mart of Golf.” We might consider it a putdown, but they have a point. Like the retail giant, we have it all. With nearly 100 courses within a 60-mile radius of Myrtle Beach golfers have plenty of options when choosing which ones to play during their visit.
There are five-star, championship-caliber courses, and there are some less-expensive and less-glamorous alternatives. The trick is trying to find both, a balancing act between quality golf at a bargain price. Here are six area courses that can provide you and your foursome the maximum bang for your bucks:
Hackler Course at CCU: Longtime visitors may remember this 18-hole layout tucked away in a quiet Conway neighborhood as Quail Creek. That was before nearby Coastal Carolina University took over operations as part of the school's renowned golf management program. Yes, you may encounter college kids studying the greens or measuring the slope rating, but the maintenance of the course is immaculate and the price is right for a nice round of golf.
International Club: This William Byrd design is surrounded by more expensive courses that make up the Waccamaw Golf Trail, but this Murrells Inlet course holds its own among bargain-shopping golfers. Despite the residential neighborhood, much of the property remains undeveloped, creating a more natural Lowcountry setting of woodlands and wetlands. The comfortable clubhouse is the perfect place to spend some of the money you saved on post-round drink.
Myrtlewood Golf Club: Flanked by the more prestigious and semi-private Grande Dunes and Pine Lakes golf courses, this 36-hole public facility offers a similar setting for a fraction of the price. Located in Myrtle Beach on 48th Avenue North, the Palmetto and PineHills courses provide scenic views of the Intracoastal Waterway and well-manicured greens and fairways. Myrtlewood hosts a lot of local charity tournaments and boasts a regular crowd that adds to the friendly neighborhood atmosphere. Save money by playing both courses.
The Pearl: This 36-hole North Carolina course is about 30 miles north of Myrtle Beach in the fishing village of Calabash, but The Pearl is well worth the trip. Situated on a scenic landscape of salt marshes and dense coastal forest, both The Pearl East and the Pearl West have the feel of an exclusive country club but can be played at public course prices. Since you're driving a decent distance, make a full day of it with 18 in the morning and 18 in the afternoon at the twin links.
Possum Trot: This North Myrtle Beach course is a popular hangout among local golfers who have found the place to play a cheap round. It’s not Augusta National, and it doesn’t aspire to be. But for the low greens fees and the well maintained layout, Possum Trot gets a thumbs-up for providing a good test of golf at the right price. And you will meet some friendly folks and perhaps a few golf tips from the crew in the clubhouse.
Whispering Pines: The only municipal course on the Grand Strand has come a long way over the past year. After hiring a new management company to keep the course from losing public funds, the new group has turned things around at the Myrtle Beach muni. New greens and other renovations have breathed new life into the 18-hole layout. Located near the airport, Whispering Pines is a great place to play when you have an afternoon flight and want to squeeze in one last round.