Thursday, November 05, 2009

Craig’s “Top Ten” Golf Courses in Myrtle Beach

Interested in a golf trip to Myrtle Beach but overwhelmed with the number of courses to choose from? Here is my list of the top ten must plays in Myrtle. This does not take into account price point or best values, just my favorite tracks considering layout, scenery, conditioning and service. 
1. The Dunes Golf and Beach Club- My absolute favorite course in town. This is one of the originals in Myrtle designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1948. Great views of the ocean, marshlands, inlet, and the best course conditions around. Just a super facility. 
2. Caledonia- Beautiful! It is a fair test of golf and at the same time one of the most scenic plantation style courses in the country. I just love the huge live oak trees lining the fairways with the Spanish moss draping down. Course conditions are always top notch and could be my favorite in town except for hole #9 is a bit of a disappointment when compared to the other 17 holes. 
3. King’s North- In a word FUN. I love risk reward holes and Arnold Palmer gives you plenty of chances on this course. Par five with an island fairway (always go for it because if it does not stay on the island your still hitting 3 into the green) island green par 3, drivable par 4, oh and number 18 has 100 plus bunkers on that hole alone! 
4. Tigers Eye- “Top 100 Public Courses” by Golf Digest and for good reason. Not your typical beach course, as there are some nice elevation changes and Tim Cate did a great job of carving the course out of the pines. I love the large boulders lining all of the ponds. 
5. Rivers Edge- Best value around if your willing to drive. You have a 45 minute hike even if your staying in North Myrtle but you won’t want to miss this track. Arnold Palmer was lucky to have a gorgeous piece of property to work with, that offers spectacular views overlooking the inlet and bluffs in Shallotte. Numbers 9 and 18 are two of my all time favorite holes. 
6. TPC of Myrtle Beach- One of my good friends best described this course as “the enchanted forest.” The land to start with did not have the wow factor that some of the other area courses offer but this is one of the best layouts around. 18 super holes of golf designed by Mr. Fazio which until recently had zero homes on the course but even with the new construction you still see very few home sites as you travel around. 
7. Tidewater- A North Myrtle Beach gem. Great mix of holes that run between the towering pines and then before you know it, your looking out over the marsh with the ocean in the background. There are so many holes that would be “the signature hole” on almost any other golf course.
8. Barefoot Love- I had a hard time choosing just one course at Barefoot as they are all great. Given my choice though I always go with the Love. The staff keeps the course in fantastic shape, and I just love the old ruins which gives the course great character. Well designed course and a great clubhouse to come back to have a beer and hang out with the guys….or gals. 
9. Grande Dunes- Come test that new driver! Just a mere 7,600 yards from the tips….strongly suggest avoiding playing it all the way back on windy days. Driver then three-wood gets old after a while…… I will say they have several tee boxes to choose from which make this a far less demanding golf course. Grande Dunes has the most upscale feel of all the area courses from the second you pull up to the bag drop and its in a great location.
10. Pawleys Plantation- I love what Jack Nicholas did with this golf course…well all except for the little 100 yard par three out over the marsh….that hole gets me every time. He too had a great piece of property to work with offering fantastic inlet views….my wife and I loved it so much we even had our wedding there. No doubt it is a challenging golf course but what a great place to spend a day. 
If you have questions on these or any other courses in town give me a call at 888.333.6079. 

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Winter Golf Packages in Florida II - Orlando

Here is the follow up to my first post on Winter Golf Packages in Florida. I will mention more details on resorts and courses in the different areas

Orlando, Florida:

This is the best and biggest bang for your buck, when planning winter golf packages. As I mentioned earlier, the lodging (Villa's, Condo's and Homes) are inexpensive. Here are a couple of my recommendations for lodging choices - Magical Memories, followed by Grand Beach ResortSheraton Vistana Villages, and Sheraton Vistana Resort. Finally the high end resorts with Villa's and lodging on site - Reunion Resort (villa's and homes), Grand Cypress (villa's), Champions Gate (hotel rooms and villa's) and Orange County National (hotel rooms). Reunion Resort is the only one of these resorts that require you to stay on property in order to play there.

Here are my thoughts and recommendations of the courses:

Multiple course facilities:

Disney - 72 holes. Palm/Magnolia (PGA Tour event), out of same club house. Lake Buena Vista and Osprey Ridge have their own clubhouse.
Reunion Resort - 54 holes, upscale (Palmer, Watson and Nicklaus design)
Grand Cypress - 45 holes, upscale (Nicklaus design)
Champions Gate - 36 holes, upscale (Greg Norman design)
Orange County National - 36 holes, upscale (PGA Tour final stage of qualifying school)
Orange Lake Resort - 36 holes, less expensive (Legends course designed by Arnold Palmer).
Mission Inn - 36 holes, less expensive (30 minutes north of Orlando, lodging on site)
Stonegate at Solivita - 36 holes, less expensive

Other top end courses:

Bella Collina, 50 million $ clubhouse, Nick Faldo design
Shingle Creek - Close to airport
Harmony Golf Preserve - Great bang for buck, little bit of a drive
Falcons Fire
Southern Dunes - Rated high in state of Florida
Eagle Creek - Close to airport
Sugarloaf Mtn. - Not typical Florida course, elevation changes
Victoria Hills - Great bang for buck, 1 hour drive
Providence GC - Well priced

Next level courses:

Legends Golf and CC
North Shore
Forest Lake
Hunters Creek
Royal St. Cloud
Ridgewood Lakes

To keep from having too long of a post, I will limit each one to a specific area in Florida. In the meantime, please feel free to email me - or call me with any questions or help - 888.333.6103.