Dan Maples grew up in Pinehurst, N.C., immersed in the tradition of Carolinas golf. His father, Ellis, designed several of the top courses in the Carolinas. His grandfather, Frank Maples, was Donald Ross’ construction engineer on several legendary Sandhills courses, including renowned Pinehurst No. 2.
But Dan Maples created a legacy all his own in the Myrtle Beach area as a pioneer by designing spectacular courses that wind through breathtaking scenic marshes with holes that conclude with dramatic, uniquely shaped greens in a memorable setting. While previous architects tended to build away from wetlands, Maples weaved his holes through them.
Maples’ Myrtle Beach-area courses, which trace back to the unveiling of stunning Oyster Bay Golf Links in 1983, now number 10, stretching from Sunset Beach in the north down to Pawleys Island. The architect’s incorporation of wetlands into his routing ushered in a new era in Grand Strand golf, adding both beauty and difficulty to area layouts.
As Maples has said: “From the beginning, one of our goals has been to build courses that players could remember.”
Here’s a look at a memorable hole on each of Maples’ Grand Strand designs:
Heritage Club: The par-4 14th is one of the Grand Strand’s best driving holes, challenging players to gamble off the tee. Hit it right – the shortest carry over the water – and you’re left with a layup or long approach over water. Hit it short or too far left and you’re hitting 3 off the tee. A solid drive that doesn’t bite off enough dogleg goes through the fairway into woods. But a solid strike hit with a bit of bravery leaves a very manageable approach.
Man O’War: An island green sitting exposed in a 200-acre lake greets players at the par-3 17th. From an elevated tee, the approach with a mid-iron must navigate strong breezes over the water to the kidney-shaped putting surface.
Oyster Bay: Several of the most photographed holes on the Grand Strand to pick from here. But there are few more thrilling shots anywhere than the short-iron approach on the par-3 17th, which features an island green surrounded by water and lined by oyster shells. Safely reaching the diagonally shaped green, which is at least one club further to the back, left side requires extreme accuracy and precise club selection.
Pearl East: The beautiful, but menacing Calabash River marsh extends the length of the left side of the long par-4 18th hole. One bunker serves as a buffer on the left, three others surround the green. Breezes off the marsh add more difficulty to the hole.
Pearl West: The par-5 finishing hole is one of the most iconic on the Grand Strand. Water bisects the fairway on the second shot, leaving players the option for a dangerous attempt to reach the green in two or a safe play left of the hazard, which still must be crossed on the third shot.
Sandpiper Bay: Maples proves with this 27-hole Sunset Beach, N.C. facility that a layout can have beautiful wetlands and other dangerous hazards while maintaining a high degree of playability. The short par-4 3rd hole on the “Sand” nine offers a great birdie opportunity for players who can hit an accurate tee shot over water to a narrow fairway, leaving just a pitch to the green.
Sea Trail Maples Course: At the long, par-4 7th, the tee shot must be hit right of water that bisects the dogleg left to leave a clear approach. The hole can’t be overpowered off the tee. Three bunkers guard against bailouts hit long and right of the fairway.
Willbrook Plantation: Make sure and get loosened up before your round. Willbrook begins with some of its toughest holes, leading to the short par-3 6th, which features a putting complex surrounded by water. Though the vertically shaped green is long, the green is elevated with the putting surface falling off toward the water and a large bunker that guards the left side.
The Witch: At the par-4 9th, players feel the full effect of golf in the eerie, black wetlands filled with cypress, reptiles and birds of prey. Drives don’t have to be long, but they have to be accurate to hit a fairway surrounded by wetlands. Tee shots hit off-target to the left leave a second shot over water and wetlands blocked by trees.
The Wizard: The par-4 finishing hole doesn’t just have an island green – it has an island fairway, too. So it’s actually an island hole. There’s a little more room for error on the left, but there’s an almost mystical push many players feel that sends drives to the right. The strong breezes off the large, centerpiece lake add to the challenge.
South Carolina Golf Center, located at Shaftesbury Glen Golf Course, is pleased to announce that they will hold their Grand Opening and Ribbon-Cutting ceremony for their newly constructed golf teaching facility on Saturday, November 1, 2014. This family-friendly event is from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm.
The grand opening event will commence with the Conway Chamber’s Ribbon-Cutting ceremony at 11:00 am, with lunch to follow. Guests are welcome to partake in the different activities during the event, which include: demos by Nike and TaylorMade; a closest to the pin and turkey shoot golf contests; a children’s putting contest and touring the South Carolina Golf Center’s facility. Prizes will be given to those who participate in the golf contests, including: a free range membership at South Carolina Golf Center, free golf at Shaftesbury Glen, free golf lessons, restaurant gift certificates and more. Money raised will benefit the South Carolina Junior Golf Association.
Golfers can play Shaftesbury Glen Golf Course after 1 pm on November 1 for cart fee only by calling the pro shop at 843-369-1800 and referencing the South Carolina Grand Opening Event.
The South Carolina Golf Center offers men, women and junior golfers of all levels and ages to improve on or learn the game of golf. First-class golf instruction is led by former PGA Tour Pro and SC Golf Center’s director of instruction, Hugh Royer III. Two other well-rounded and experienced SC Golf Center golf instructors are Nate McDonough and Warren “Thys” Runia.
South Carolina Golf Center is a V-1 Digital Coaching System Branded Academy, which provides each student with a comprehensive analysis of their swing via computers, smart phones or social media. SC Golf Center provides a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for students and parents.
To learn more about South Carolina Golf Center visit: www.scgolfcenter.com.
Two Myrtle Beach area golf facilities have been ranked among ConventionSouth Magazine’s list of the “South’s Top 18 Golf Resorts for Groups.”
Sea Trail Golf Resort & Convention Center, home of three courses, and Pawleys Plantation, which features a Jack Nicklaus design, each earned a spot on the list.
The 18 golf resorts that made this year’s list were nominated by readers and the final selection was made by ConventionSouth’s editorial team based on the number and quality of the nominations, as well as additional factors.
ConventionSouth’s editorial team requested nominations for golf resorts throughout the South and the Caribbean Seas Region during the month of September and selected 18 of the best resorts for both golf and meetings based on several factors, including golf course accolades and golf club amenities for groups, affordability, accessibility, and the amount of on-site meeting venues and accommodations for groups.
Located just across the state line in Brunswick County, N.C., Sea Trail is a destination unto itself with two clubhouses, accommodations and restaurants accompanying three four-star golf courses. The three layouts at Sea Trail – the Maples, Byrd and Jones courses – are all highly regarded have earned a reputation for delivering quality and value to anyone taking a Myrtle Beach golf trip.
Pawleys Plantation, a host of Golf Channel’s hit series Big Break Myrtle Beach, is one of the area’s most scenic and challenging layouts. Five of the final nine holes play along a stunning saltmarsh that separates Pawleys Island from the mainland and is at the heart of the course’s appeal.
The inclusion of Sea Trail and Pawleys Plantation on the list of the South’s Top 18 Golf Resorts for Groups is further endorsement of Myrtle Beach’s appeal as a destination. Earlier this year, readers of USA Today’s 10 Best voted Myrtle Beach Best Golf Destination in the world, and Golf Channel selected the area to be the host of its flagship original program Big Break.
The fourth episode of Big Break Myrtle Beach is in the books and it will leave people talking, less for what happened on the course than what came out of Anthony’s mouth.
The episode’s immunity challenge featured a playground type format as two captain’s – Katy H and Toph – selected teams. Tessa, Charlie, Emily and Christian joined Katy H.
Toph selected Jimmy, Carolin, Dave and Anthony, who was the last pick, surely a sign of disrespect in his eyes.
The competition moved to the...
Halloween, the night of ghouls, goblins and fright, is upon us, so it’s the perfect time to rank the scariest shots on the Myrtle Beach golf scene.
These are shots that cause your palms to sweat and your body to tense up, because your ball has as good a chance of landing in its graveyard as it does the safety of well manicured grass.
Here are five shots that could haunt you on the course and after you’ve returned home from your Myrtle Beach, S.C., golf trip.
1. The beauty of the 13th hole at Pawleys Plantation is matched only by the terror it induces on the tee. The peninsula green looks out across a marsh that serves as a barrier between Pawleys Island and the mainland. The shot appears much shorter than what the scorecard says – 115 yards from the blue tees, 69 from the whites. The green seems impossibly small and the distance to short. When the tide is out and countless golf balls that have met their marshy grave are visible, it’s yet another reminder of the difficulty of the scariest shot in Myrtle Beach. Advice? Hit it high, land it soft and pray!
2. Whether you are going for the green in two (it requires a perfect shot) or three, the approach into par 5 ninth hole at Rivers Edge is only slightly less nerve-jangling than spending Halloween night in a pagan cemetery. The ninth green, surrounded by marsh, isn’t much wider than Kate Moss and trouble surrounds it. Hitting it requires precision and serious cojones.
3. World Tour Golf Links recreates some of the game’s most famous holes, so how could we not include one that makes players around the world go weak in the knees? The third hole on the Open 9 replicates the famed island green 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. Playing just 132 yards, distance isn’t a problem but you think about this hole from the moment you book a round at World Tour. We’ve all seen the pros dump balls in the water on the exact same shot and heard Johnny Miller describe their failures. It’s hard not to have those thoughts in your head as you approach the tee.
4. For 15 holes, The Wizard is a links style course where water isn’t a factor, but that changes on the last three, capped by the par 4 18th. Playing 421 yards from the tips and 394 yards from the whites, it’s a long hole that requires a forced carry over water on the approach. There is no bailout room and a 235-yard drive from the white tees still leaves approximately 165 to get home. On a course that gives players the chance to score, the approach on No. 18 at the Wizard can be a curse on your round!
5. The par 4 18th hole at Caledonia is universally regarded as one of the area’s best and most fun holes to play. Here is what they don’t tell you – it’s also one of the scariest. A forced carry is always a source of tension, but there is another factor in play at Caledonia. Nothing frightens the average player more than a gallery and there are almost always people watching on the clubhouse deck overlooking the 18th green. The assembled masses ooh and ahh based on the quality of the approach shots over water, and the pressure of the crowd, combined with your own expectations, can create a type of fear golfers rarely face. But it’s great!
What is the scariest shot in Myrtle Beach in your opinion?
Episode four of Big Break Myrtle Beach will air Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on Golf Channel and it appears personal animosity will take center stage. Anthony Quezada, the brash 19-year-old from Arizona, has reveled in tweaking his fellow players at every turn and root against them on occasion.
Based on the show preview, Anthony’s bravado and the hostility of his fellow players seem to be on the rise. But at the end of the day, it’s the play on the course that matters and there will be plenty of that, including a third elimination.
If you don’t believe us, ask the locals who flock to the place.
The menu at Bistro 217 is varied, but at its heart, if you appreciate the virtues of a creative and talented chef, it’s a fine dining experience.
Located just minutes from Caledonia, Pawleys Plantation, Heritage Club, True Blue, and Founders Club, it’s easily accessible for golf groups looking for lunch or post-round dinner, though reservations are recommended.
Here is what you can expect at Bistro 217.
Bistro 217 is tucked away in a strip of shops off Highway 17, but when you enter through the courtyard, it’s immediately charming. Wrought iron tables offer the appeal of outdoor dining – accompanied by a refreshing coastal breeze - with the security of a reinforced canvas cover in the event of rain.
The indoor dining room is moderate in size but more importantly can offer a sense of intimacy. If your group is looking for a more lively setting, the bar is the place to be.
The lunch menu is very good, the Monster Bistro Burger is a must have, but Bistro 217 earned its reputation as Pawleys Island’s best restaurant based on the strength of its dinner offerings.
Chef Adam Kirby has crafted a menu influenced by the Southern cooking he was raised on and the flavors of the Pacific Rim where he spent some time training. The result is entrée offerings that are as creative as they are tasty.
Bistro’s signature appetizer is a fresh locally caught fish, almost always a snapper of some variety, that is scored, fried whole and served with a collection of jellies and sauces. The presentation is great and the taste is even better.
While the fish is the most popular appetizer and it serves multiple people, the quick fried calamari with cherry peppers, a five-pepper jelly, lemon aioli and field greens is a personal favorite.
The daily specials, which always include fresh fish, are a winner. Whether the special features hog fish, halibut or pompano, Kirby and his kitchen staff will deliver an outstanding meal.
Off the menu, the seared George’s Bank scallops over spring pea risotto, lobster-carrot sauce and local baby carrots is arguably the most popular entree. But the difference between the scallops, herb-encrusted grouper and the Eggplant Treasure, a delectable dish filled with local shrimp, scallops and grouper, is largely a matter of taste.
For non-seafood eaters, the filet served with creamed spinach and a gruyere potato cake is a winner. Based on experience, the steak is cooked perfectly and the spinach and potato cake are perfect complements.
The biggest problem at Bistro 217 is leaving room for dessert, which is at least as good as the rest of the menu. Chef Kirby makes fresh ice cream – imagine choosing from flavors like Roasted Banana, Chocolate Cayenne and Pistachio, Salty Caramel, Cinnamon Pecan and Key Lime Pie - every day.
If ice cream doesn’t tickle your taste buds, the warm white chocolate bread pudding certainly will.
Bistro 217 is the best restaurant in Pawleys Island and one of the best along the Grand Strand. If your Myrtle Beach golf group is in search of a great meal, Bistro better be on your short list. It’s not an inexpensive meal, but given the quality, it’s reasonable. The most expensive item on the menu is the filet at $34 and it’s worth every penny.
If you missed episode three of Big Break Myrtle Beach, here it is. Enjoy all the action from Golf Channel's most popular original program, including a dramatic elimination challenge.
Caledonia Golf & Fish Club is neither the longest nor the toughest golf course on the Grand Strand.
But it’s been regarded as one of the best since opening as acclaimed architect Mike Strantz’ first solo project in 1994.
Great shotmaking requirements, stunning beauty and remarkable playability for golfers of all skills make Caledonia a consensus choice as one of Myrtle BeachI sub golf’s top destinations.
At only 6,526 yards from the black tees (6,121 from blue and 5,710 from white), the par-70 Caledonia layout offers proof that brute length is not a requirement for a great golf course.
With that in mind, here’s a trio of memorable short holes, featuring remarkable challenge and beauty at the Pawleys Island course.
No. 7, par-4 399 (323 white) yards:
The tee shot is a modest carry over water, which then extends down the entire left side of the hole. The right side offers a bailout with an approach blocked by trees.
Though the sand-lined water hazard is striking, the dominating feature of the hole is a spectacular live oak that must be carried on approaches from the right side of the fairway.
No bunkers are needed to protect a large, undulating green that runs from front left to back right. Most lengthy putts must navigate tricky slopes that make two-putting a difficult challenge.
No. 11, par-3, 167 (150 white) yards:
A twisting stream cutting across the fairway and continuing to the green, and a diagonally shaped green defined by the stream make No. 11 a beautiful and memorable hole requiring a well-struck tee shot, especially if the pin is tucked in the back-left portion of the green, which is at least two clubs further from the tee than front placements.
The ability to work the ball from either side is a huge advantage. Shots to the more distant left portion of the green are much easier with a draw. But too much draw finds a lake fed by the stream. A fade, cut over the stream, is the shot of the choice to the front right placements, which are guarded by a pair of bunkers.
The menacing stream and the unusual front-right to back-left shape of the green make the target small and elusive. Tricky depth perception issues and failure to pay attention to pin placements often provide problems for first-time guests.
No. 18, par-4, 383 (362 white) yards:
This signature hole requires focus and accuracy rather than length on both the drive and the approach. But don’t forget to take in the beauty of the scenic lake that dissects the fairway on a dangerous carry to the long, narrow green.
A fairway wood is plenty from the tee, with the main requirement hitting the fairway and avoiding the water on the right and the grabbing rough to the left. Though the left side of the landing area is safer, shots hit closer to the water leave a shorter approach to a putting surface beautifully framed by the antebellum-style clubhouse and patio.
Breezes off the water make approaches from the relatively open landing area more difficult than they might seem. Shots must be hit long enough to carry the water, but not as far as to scatter patrons enjoying a beverage on the patio only a few paces off the putting surface, which is less than 10 yards in depth on the extreme right finger.
Strantz’ finishing hole requires two accurate shots of modest length hit boldly through breezes to small targets set against breathtaking scenery. It’s a hole that makes you thirsty for the 19th hole on the patio, where you can watch others take the same challenge.
John Brasier covered Grand Strand golf as golf writer and sports editor of The Sun News in Myrtle Beach. He also has written about Grand Strand golf for several national publications, including Golf Magazine, Golfweek and GolfWorld. A mid-handicapper with a history of luck on short holes, he’s made four holes-in-one, though much to his regret, none on the Grand Strand.
From PGA and LPGA Tour pros to regular hacks, millions of golfers have played countless rounds in Myrtle Beach, but we can safely say no one has ever had a golf trip like the one Dom Debonis recently completed.
The 81-year-old Debonis (pictured in the orange shirt, third from left) did the seemingly impossible on a recent Myrtle Beach golf trip, making a hole-in-one on three consecutive days, defying 1 in 1.953 trillion odds!
Debonis began his magical run by acing the 112-yard, par 3 17th hole at Farmstead, a singular accomplishment that would’ve made his trip memorable. But he was just getting started.
The following day he made a hole-in-one on the 6th at hole at Thistle, a 129-yard par 3. That night while his group was relaxing in the whirl pool at Long Bay Resort, one of Debonis’ friends told him not to worry about the water because “you won’t sink, just walk across the water.”
Little did they know Debonis’ miraculous run wasn’t over.
The following day he aced the 118-yard fourth hole at Blackmoor, completing what might be the greatest run of holes in one in golf history.
“I was flabbergasted,” Debonis said. “I couldn’t believe it was happening. (The excitement of) it never gets old.”
His run ended at TPC Myrtle Beach, where a fourth consecutive day with a hole in one wasn’t in the offing.
But it was a remarkable streak, made even more so when one considers that Debonis had another hole in one in early September playing at home in The Villages. A former collegiate golfer at Duquesne, Debonis has played the game for 65 years, and he hadn’t recorded an ace in 45 years before having four in just over a month.
His Grand Strand exploits earned him national attention. After the local newspaper in The Villages ran a story on his feat, Gerry Dulac, the longtime golf writer for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette penned a story on the Pennsylvania native and his story went viral.
Debonis has since been featured on Golf Channel, ESPN.com, PBS and numerous other outlets.
His new found fame hasn’t changed life at home – his wife still makes him take the trash out every night – but it has reconnected him with old acquaintances. He has heard from old fraternity brothers and a friend from his childhood that he hadn’t communicated with in more than 40 years.
Debonis was invited to join a group of 11 other guys for the trip to Myrtle Beach.
“After being down here (in The Villages), you want a break every once in a while,” he said. “We went to Myrtle Beach and had such a good time.”
The members of his group, several of whom were with him for all four aces, surely had a good time collecting the free drinks, totaling nearly $500, that Debonis purchased.
In the third episode of Big Break Myrtle Beach, the flop wall and elimination challenge drama were the stars of the show.
The flop wall is a Big Break institution and it made its debut in the opening round of Episode 3's immunity challenge.
Clearing the 10-foot wall didn’t prove to be difficult – only Dave failed to do it – but putting the ball inside the circle surrounding the hole (and earning 10 points) proved much more challenging. Tessa was the only contestant to put the ball close and the 10 points she earned helped her win immunity and a little extra cash.
Carolin, Katy H. and Charlie also earned immunity after the flop wall challenge.
Seven contestants were left in the second stage of the immunity challenge, which required players to hit an 8 iron from any distance beyond the 90 yards. Christian and Emily, who both hit their shots close, advanced while the remaining competitors hit another shot. After the second shot, the player with the longest combined distance from the hole was dealt a ticket to the elimination challenge.
Toph hit two poor shots, earning his potential date with elimination and he was forced to decide between playing Jimmy, Dave or Katie D. Saying he didn’t want to play his brothers, he choose Katie D.
The elimination challenge took place on the 14th hole of the Fazio Course and there were four different challenge locations. After the first three locations, Toph and Katie were even and the final part of the challenge was to play the hole from tee to green. The only caveat was a player couldn’t earn points with a score worse than par.
Toph hit first, blocked his drive right, and was forced to take a penalty. It was a major advantage for Katie who was in the middle of the fairway. Toph’s trouble only deepened when he hit his third shot into a greenside bunker.
Katie D. hit her approach well past the hole, but she had two putts for par while Toph had to hole out for par from a deep bunker.
Toph failed to hole his bunker shot, and Katie D., after leaving her first putt short, had an 8 footer to win, but she pushed it right. Toph was fortunate to survive and they headed back to the 14th tee.
Both players put the ball in the fairway. Toph’s approach stopped just short of the green, and Katie dumped her ball in the left greenside bunker. Toph nearly chipped in for birdie and had a tap-in for par. Katie, the teaching pro from Minnesota, had to get up-and-down just to survive.
After a decent bunker shot, her 7-foot putt grazed the hole before rolling by. Her Big Break Myrtle Beach experience came to a bitter end.
Meanwhile, Toph lived to play another day.
Big Break Myrtle Beach is heating up and the show’s iconic flop wall will take center stage in episode 3, which airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on Golf Channel.
Based on a sneak peek of the upcoming episode (see below), Anthony will again be a focal point The 19-year-old is brash and hasn’t made endearing himself to his fellow players a priority, but he didn’t come to Myrtle Beach to make friends.
He came to win and seems to have the game to match his bravado.
“It doesn’t matter what they think of me as a person, I can do anything I want with a golf ball,” Anthony says in the show preview.
Last week, Krista chose to play Anthony in an elimination challenge, and he birdied the third and fourth holes on the Fazio Course at Barefoot to eliminate her.
What awaits our 11 remaining contestants? Tune in to the Golf Channel Tuesday night at 9 p.m. to find out.
Eagle Nest has been an institution on the north end of the Myrtle Beach golf scene for decades. The Gene Hamm design opened in 1972 and has been delivering quality and value to golfers since day one.
The course is renowned for the difficulty of its three finishing holes, but when we consulted with head pro Ethan Leyshon for his favorites, he offered a strong endorsement of the opening nine.
Here is a look at three of Eagle Nest’s best and most enjoyable challenges from Leyshon’s perspective.
-- The pro’s favorite par 3 is the 186-yard fourth hole (150 from the white tees), which plays to an elevated green that is guarded on the right by a pond.
The green slopes to the right towards the pond so play your ball left and the let the contour of the land help you to the hole. If your ball starts right, the possibility of a big number becomes much more real.
-- The ninth hole is a short par 4 – 364 yards from the tips, 343 from the whites - that is a slight dogleg left. The approach shot is blind playing uphill into the green.
“I think the key is to hit it in the fairway – play a cut up the left hand side because it really opens up the green,” Leyshon said. “That will leave you with 120-125 yards. You have to aim for the middle of the green; everything releases back.”
[5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EAGLE NEST]
-- One of the last three holes has to be included on any list of Eagle Nest’s best, and Leyshon likes No. 16, the course’s longest and toughest par 4. Playing 449 yards from the tips (416 from the whites), a good drive is a necessity.
“Hopefully you aren’t into the wind that day - it’s either with you or against you,” Leyshon said. “If you hit a good drive, you have around 180 in but don’t hook it because you are in the water.”
The 16th hole kicks off the demanding closing stretch with a stern but fair challenge.
If you’ve played Eagle Nest, what are your favorite holes?
The weather is great – not too hot, not too cold. Bring a windshirt in the morning, but expect to take it off by late morning or early afternoon.
Course conditions are never better. The greens are smooth and fast – superintendents don’t have to worry about summer heat. The Bermuda fairways are lush and green The scenery is awe-inspiring – from the spectacular vistas along the Calabash and Lockwood Folly rivers and adjoining wetlands just above the border in North Carolina to the prodigious live oaks among former rice plantations in Pawleys Island. The leaves are starting to change. The fall colors are spectacular, especially as sunset approaches.
There’s more fun and entertainment (football, baseball playoffs) awaiting on the 19th hole than during any other time of the year. So there’s no better time than October to to take a Myrtle Beach golf trip (I hope I remember that I wrote this by the time April rolls around).
Let’s expand on the reasons why October is the best time to play golf at the Seaside Golf Capital of the World.
We’ll start with the weather. Every tee time is great. October weather on the Grand Strand (average high on October 15 is 77 degrees, average low at sunrise about 60 degrees) is great for golf.
It was fall of 1970 and Ron Bingeman, Larry Spangler, Everett Cassel and Bob Hayes had just concluded their first Myrtle Beach golf trip. The group stayed at the Caravelle, played the Dunes Club, Pine Lakes and Litchfield Country Club, but when the trip ended, disappointment was the prevailing emotion.
“We came for four days the first time, and when we went home, we were sick,” Bingeman said. “We said we were never going to (come for only four days) again. We were going to have to get (our stay) up to a week.”
Forty-five years later, Bingeman and his buddies, minus Hayes who had to stop coming after the 1989 trip for health reasons and was replaced by Craig Aiken, have made good on their word, staying for at least a week every year since 1971.
That first trip launched a 4 1/2-decade love affair with Myrtle Beach golf and the dedicated duffers are in the midst of their 45th Myrtle Beach golf trip, an outing highlighted by playing their 10,000th hole in Myrtle Beach Thursday at Tidewater Golf Club. At the conclusion of this year's trip, they will have enjoyed 388 golf package days in Myrtle Beach - only three of which were lost to rain.
It's a good life when you've spent more than a year of it on vacation in Myrtle Beach playing golf.
When the group began their annual pilgrimage, Richard Nixon was president, the average NFL player salary was $23,000, and there were barely enough Myrtle Beach golf courses to fill their itinerary. Much has obviously changed, but the same experience they enjoyed in 1970 is what brings them back today.
“It’s is absolutely the highlight of the year,” Spangler said. “It’s like being back in college with the boys. Good food, good golf and we get along really well.”
The trip has grown to nine days, but nature and fate have at various times attempted to keep them from coming. The closest the group came to missing the trip was 1989 when Hurricane Hugo slammed the South Carolina coast just days before their arrival.
The hotel they were slated to stay in had its first floor washed out and the area suffered extensive damage, but the suburban Philadelphia residents weren’t deterred. They called every hotel on the beach looking for a place to stay, eventually finding a condo at Oyster Bay in Brunswick County, N.C. The North Strand was spared the worst of the storm and the group forged on.
“There were enough courses open and they had dragged off the trees,” Spangler said. “We just owned the beach. It was so strange to see almost nobody down here. “
In the mid-1970s it was Cassel’s Volkswagen Van that attempted to throw a monkey wrench into their plans, but a mechanical problem stood no chance against the aspiring MacGyvers. The van’s accelerator cable snapped at night on I-95, leaving the foursome scrambling.
While Cassel was inspecting the situation, Bingeman found a blown out truck tire on the side of the road and wondered if the steel in the tire could be used to replace the cable. Cassel removed a knife from his toolbox, cut out the steel belting, spliced it together and ran it to the engine in the back. The van didn’t exceed 50 miles per hour the rest of the trip but it survived the journey (as a matter of fact, the rigged cable stayed on the van until December of that year).
“Instead of losing days, we lost about 30 minutes,” Bingeman said.
Other than those two incidents, the group hasn’t faced any substantial threats to its longevity. They’ve always traveled between mid-September and October, and never had to worry about getting any grief from their spouses.
When Christmas time comes, all they request is a trip to Myrtle Beach.
Just as amazing as the length of time the group has been coming to Myrtle Beach is their continuity. Spangler, Cassel and Bingeman have made the jaunt every year. After Hayes, who has since passed away, was forced to quit coming, Aiken blended in seamlessly with the group.
Bingeman worked with him and the two often played and talked about golf.
“He was always telling me about Myrtle Beach,” Aiken said. “Then one of the guys couldn’t go anymore and Ron suggested I might want to give it a try. Here I am 25 years later.”
They have played practically every course – they have the logoed golf balls to prove it – and have made friends along the Grand Strand, starting with local golf pro Gene Weldon. As they look towards their fifth decade of Myrtle Beach golf, they have the knowledge of locals.
Each year they pick a different region of the Strand and concentrate on courses in that particular area. There is no bickering about course selection, restaurants or anything else, despite the fact they spend as much time lobbing verbal grenades as they do hitting the ball.
The Myrtle Beach golf community has changed considerably since 1970, but group’s passion for the game and the Grand Strand have been constants.
On this, their 45th trip, the group enjoyed something of dream intinerary, playing The Witch, Rivers Edge, Grande Dunes, Barefoot, Dunes Club, Bald Head, Tidewater and Arcadian Shores.
After 45 years, why does the groupd keep coming back?
“It’s a great week, a tradition for us,” Aiken said. “What’s not to like about Myrtle Beach? Wonderful courses, wonderful restaurants, it’s just a great place.”
If you missed the second episode of Big Break Myrtle Beach, we are here for you! Enjoy the drama (commercial free) and find out who will be the first contestant to get sent home this season.
Week two of Big Break Myrtle Beach is in the books, and a show that began at breakfast with talk of the players being more relaxed ended with tears as our first contestant was sent home.
Breakfast was served at 5:24 a.m. and producers wasted little time getting things started. Charlie, who won super immunity last week, giving him the opportunity to opt out of an elimination challenge, had a letter awaiting him on the table.
The “love letter” congratulated Charlie on winning the challenge and let him know that if he advances to the final four of the competition without using the super immunity, he will pocket what’s in the Macanudo box.
Charlie opened the box, his eyes grew wide and his verbal reaction is, “Whoa!”
The site of $10,000 in cash will do that to a young man (or an old one in my case!).
“There is 10 grand with his name on it,” said Dave, seemingly daring Charlie to tempt fate down the line in an attempt to keep the $10,000.
Toph said people were going to be gunning for Charlie. Buyer beware, Charlie birdied both holes of last week’s challenge and looks like one of the show’s best players.
After some happy talk on the range, we jump right into the next immunity challenge on the 13th hole of the Fazio Course at Barefoot, which has two greens.
The challenge utilizes both greens and requires players to decide which one they want to play to. The task is magnified because players have to make their decision without knowing how close their fellow competitors hit the ball to the hole.
The two shots closest to the pin on each hole earn immunity, meaning four players will be guaranteed a spot on next week’s show. The player closest to the pin wins $2,500.
“The competition becomes very real for these contestants because somebody will be going home at the end of the show,” host Tom Abbott said.
Hole location No. 1 was 115 yards and required a carry over a waste area. The No. 2 location was 110 yards straightaway.
Only five contestants played to the first hole location. Dave’s ball was 5’ 9” from the cup and Tessa’s was 6’3” outside the hole, good enough to earn both immunity.
Toph and Carolin, both of whom look strong in the early going, advanced from the second hole location, but what would a challenge be without Anthony trolling his cast mates? As Carolin’s anxiety level rose as Christian’s shot was measured (it was 3 inches outside her ball), Anthony said, “She annoys me. First chance I get, I’m going to give her the boot.”
Based on his performance...Read More
Classic Swing Golf School’s Ted Frick shows you how to master one of the game’s trickiest shots – the short chip - using a simple method and inexpensive training aids.
Lower your handicap, fine-tune your advanced skills, or build a solid foundation for a golf game that will serve you for a lifetime. Wouldn't that just be the perfect Myrtle Beach souvenir? Check it out! And, don't forget, you can get these tips by email too!
The second episode of Big Break Myrtle Beach airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on Golf Channel. The debut show seemed to foreshadow ample drama in the coming weeks as 12 contestants – six men, six women – vie for the opportunity to earn their big break in the world of professional golf.
The first episode set up 19-year-old Anthony Quezada as one of the show’s polarizing personalities and episode two will likely continue that narrative. In a show preview, Quezada says, “I told her I’d kick her butt.”
We have no idea who he said it to, but a female competitor revealed that Quezada isn’t one of her “favorites,” so expect serious drama along with, presumably, our first eliminated contestant tonight.
If you missed the first episode and want a quick recap, here it is.
Golf Channel's Matt Ginella, one of the world's leading authorities on golf travel, ranked his five favorite Myrtle Beach courses on the popular Morning Drive program. Find out which courses Ginella likes best and see how it compares your list. Spoiler Alert: Matt couldn't contain his list to just five courses!
Well another Ryder Cup has come and gone and as the dust settles there’s really only one question that emerges out of it all, Why does Europe keep winning?
With wins in 8 out of the last 10 Ryder Cups European dominance seems to be unassailable. But why is this? Everybody seems to have a theory but as a person who has caddied on the world tours for the last 35 years, more then half of that on the European Tour, I might have a unique insight into this phenomena.
On the surface of things it would be hard to believe that the American team should ever lose this event. Even though both the United States and Western Europe have a similar population base of about 300 million people, everyone knows that there are countless more golf courses in the states and therefore countless more golfers. This fact alone should give them a tremendous advantage.
Yet the European teams seem to buck the trend. Of course, in this equation holds part of the reason why things have gone the way they have. If you want to know a large part of why the team from the other side of the pond has become so competitive it’s because the American side gave them that opportunity.
Prior to 1979 the Ryder Cup was an event played just between America and Great Britain and Ireland but due, to a great extent, to the lopsided population base available to the two combatants the results were a foregone conclusion. To give the Great Britain and Ireland team a life-line, the American team suggested that they could bolster their side with players originating from Continental Europe. Hindsight is 20/20 but this turned out to more then just a life-line. Almost immediately new golf superstars like Ballesteros, Olazábal and Langer where playing along side the likes of Faldo, Lyle and Torrance. The tide had turned.
But for me this doesn’t explain everything. How could a part of the world where golf is nearly unheard of in bits of it keep beating a country where nearly every person has picked up a golf club at some point in their life?
Well I’m going to tell you.Read More
Contestant Emily Tubert, lead producer Scott Lee, and challenge producer Chris Graham offer insight and opinion on the first episode of Big Break Myrtle Beach.
We’ve been anxiously awaiting the debut of Big Break Myrtle Beach and where better to start in a coastal destination than a boat?
The premier episode opens with all 12 players cruising down the Intracoastal Waterway with no idea what is in store when the boat docks at Anchor Café, an onsite bar at Marina Inn, the show’s host accommodations property.
After being greeted with a frozen drink and making quick toast while overlooking the Intracoastal, our fearless participants are startled by a television turning on. Everyone’s favorite Travelocity Roaming Gnome appears on the screen to explain the format and leaves the contestants wondering what 12 golf balls of various colors sitting in shot glasses means for their future.
The gnome, still sporting his poker face, reveals only that contestants will be playing as individuals, not teams, and instructs everyone to pick a golf ball. What it means will be revealed tomorrow.
It will be a restless nights sleep for the players wondering what to expect.
As they walk down the dock away from Anchor Café, they find their Big Break professional bags. Uber confident Anthony Quezada, the show’s youngest participant at 19, says, “I’m finally going to be carrying my own bag, but not for long. I’m going to have people carrying it for me on tour.”
Uh, ok. In the interim, he can focus on winning Big Break Myrtle Beach.
At 6:01 a.m. the next morning the breakfast bell rings and our nervous contestants find out their fate for the day. Toph Peterson reads a letter that informs players that anyone who has the same color ball will be their opponent in the first challenge.
After a session on the range, the famed glass break, which is synonymous with the show, is revealed as the first obstacle.
Hosts Tom Abbott and Paige Mackenzie make their first appearance and tell the players they are competing for more than $180,000 in cash and prizes and an exemption into the 2015 Valspar Championship (men) or the 2015 Portland Classic (women) for the winner.
Abbott reveals the first challenge victor will win Super Immunity, which allows them...Read More
The season premier of Big Break Myrtle Beach will air Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Golf Channel. The network’s most popular original show, Big Break is making its long anticipated appearance in Myrtle Beach.
Twelve aspiring young professionals – six men, six women – competed on four Myrtle Beach golf courses in hopes of winning Big Break, and, along with it, an opportunity that could launch them onto the game’s biggest stages. The 11-episode series was filmed in June.
The show was filmed at the Dye, Fazio and Love courses at Barefoot Resort and Pawleys Plantation.
Joining long-time host Tom Abbott as co-host for Big Break Myrtle Beach will be Golf Channel analyst and LPGA Tour professional Paige Mackenzie. A seven-year veteran of the LPGA Tour who also currently serves as co-host for Morning Drive, Mackenzie will provide analysis from a player’s perspective throughout the series, detailing the pressure the competitors will face with each challenge.
Big Break has produced several players that have gone on to success at the game’s highest levels. Among the show’s alumni are PGA Tour winners Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey and Matt Every, and U.S. Solheim Cup participants Kristy McPherson, Gerina Piller and Ryann O’Toole.
In addition to earning cash, prizes and an exemption into a PGA or LPGA Tour event, the player who emerges from Big Break Myrtle Beach will have earned the right to believe they are capable of following in the footsteps of Gainey, Every, O’Toole and McPherson.
The Dye, Love and Fazio courses have all been ranked among America’s top 100 public courses, while Pawleys Plantation, a Jack Nicklaus design, is as challenging and scenic as any course along the Grand Strand.
New episodes air each Tuesday at 9 p.m.
Golf Channel has launched a new travel website – GolfAdvisor.com – that features many of the game’s premier travel writers, including Matt Ginella, one of the network’s stars.
The site recently convened an all-star travel panel – Ginella, Jason Deegan, Mike Bailey and Brandon Tucker – for a roundtable discussion of all things Myrtle Beach golf.
It’s a great read from four guys who certainly know and understand the Myrtle Beach golf market. While we definitely recommend reading the entire story, here are a few passages, including a debate over the area’s best course, we wanted to share:
Favorite high-end golf course
Ginella: Caledonia Golf & Fish Club. From the driveway -- through a long tunnel of oak trees -- to the subtle charms of a Mike Strantz design, and the betting that takes place after the round on the back porch, I can't get back to Caledonia soon enough.
Tucker: The Dunes Golf & Beach Club. Sorry, Caledonia, I'm a sucker for the classics.
Hard to argue with either choice!
Best bargain golf in Myrtle Beach
Deegan: Many Dan Maples designs -- there are seven along the Grand Strand -- won't wow you, but dollar for dollar, golfers are well served. The Heritage Club is the best one, but Sandpiper Bay Golf & Country Club in Sunset Beach, N.C., might be the best bargain.
Bingo, Mr. Deegan! Sandpiper is one not only one of the best bargains in the area, it’s one of the most underrated tracks we have. Heritage is, needless to say, outstanding.
Deegan was no less helpful in providing his best Myrtle Beach travel tip, saying
“Don't chase a star-studded itinerary by trying to play all the "ranked" courses. Chose the most convenient schedule for you and your buddies by playing near where you are staying.”
There are enough ranked courses in each area of the Strand to provide great golf on any trip, but the point about playing near your accommodations is a good one for most groups.
The complete story offers an evaluation of the best restaurants, resorts and value in the area, and is well worth reading, especially if you have a fall trip to Myrtle Beach planned. We will close with Ginella’s answer when asked about the most surprising thing about the area:
“It's not surprising there are so many value-golf options along the Grand Strand, but not many people realize that the top courses here can compete with some of the best public golf in the country.”