There are approximately 100 golf courses within the Myrtle Beach area, and half of that surface area is one giant water hazard known as the Atlantic Ocean.
That leaves the other half to hold about 1,800 holes – enough to play one a day for nearly five years without duplication. Unfortunately, most golfers only get a week to try to squeeze in as many rounds as possible in hopes of hitting the highlight holes.
With so many great courses located in such a close proximity, golfers might expect to have their pick of places to play, maybe even choose their own tee time. You probably could, if there weren't so many of you thinking the same thing on a nice sunny day.
That's when it pays to have a handful of “honey holes” – courses that are a bit off the beaten path and even farther off the radar screens of the masses. They are the kinds of places you can count on for an enjoyable round of golf without the big crowds and high costs. Here are five of the Grand Strand's best-kept secrets you may not have heard of:
* Farmstead Golf Links: Located on a secluded stretch of Highway 9 along the Carolina border, this former family farm has been converted into the Grand Strand's longest layout at 7,242 yards, capped by a 767-yard monster finishing hole that tees off in South Carolina and holes out in North Carolina. Despite its size and natural beauty, Farmstead often goes undetected by visiting golfers who are either turned off by the long drive to the course or the long drive to the green. Farmstead isn't going to win any beauty contests but it's a nice place to spend a day outdoors gripping it and ripping it.
* Hackler Course: Previously known as Quail Creek, this quaint little course was recently taken over by Coastal Carolina University's golf management program. Located just a couple of blocks from the Conway campus, this layout receives light play because many consider it a college course, but the upgrades and improvements, along with the attention to maintenance and details, have made the Hackler Course a real diamond in the rough. With affordable greens fees and a location off Highway 501, Hackler is a great place to sneak in one more round on the way in or out of town.
* Possum Trot: Don't let the name fool you. This may sound like the name of the country club from an old “Green Acres” episode, but this North Myrtle Beach course is both charming and challenging. Possum Trot serves as a bit of gathering spot for local golfers who like a little friendly competition, and the snack bar is filled with players who prefer the course for its affordable rates and good times. There's also a nice driving range, practice facility and golf school so you can work on your swing before and after your round.
* The Tradition Club: Surrounded by award-winning courses on the Waccamaw Golf Trail, The Tradition Club would be a crown jewel if it was anywhere else on the Strand, but often gets lost amid the popular Low country classics. With golfers vying for tee times at Caledonia, True Blue and TPC of Myrtle Beach, savvy golfers can often slip right in and play 18 at The Tradition, which is the most affordable layout in the Murrells Inlet/Pawleys Island area.
* Whispering Pines: The name sounds like a secret, but the whispering has become a roar thanks to recent upgrades to the Myrtle Beach layout. Serving as the only municipal course on the Grand Strand, Whispering Pines recently received a new management group and underwent serious upgrades to make the course more viable in a competitive golf market. Located next to the Myrtle Beach Airport, this is the perfect place to squeeze in one more round before your flight.