My how times have changed since I first visited Myrtle Beach nearly 50 years ago – quite a skyline and a gazillion more great golf courses!
It was 1965 when I took my first golf vacation. It was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and my parents and I along with my 83-year old golf buddy, George Thorpe, ventured down to South Carolina’s Grand Strand for four days of March golf during my spring break.
I had just begun the game a few years earlier. Mr. Thorpe was not a good golfer, but he was as passionate as you could find. A lean tall bald-headed redhead and a southpaw to boot, he had the most vicious slice you ever saw as he danced away from every shot. He also shared my passion for baseball and had contributed several items to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He would visit my Little League games and then as I began to play golf would take me to the chip-and-putt and the “bunny slope” courses in the area. Eventually he took me to his club, the Donald Ross-designed LuLu Temple Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia. He was a great friend and like a third grandfather to me.
We played all the courses in Myrtle Beach – yes, all three of them. There was the patriarch of the trio, Pine Lakes International. Secondly there was the highly acclaimed Dunes Golf & Beach Club. I had never played a course so close to the ocean with such an exotic name. This was probably the best course I had played up to that time. And they had this monster par-five, the 13th called “Waterloo.” Then north of where we were stayed was the newest course in the area, the Surf Golf & Beach Club. That’s it and at that time of year, we had no interest in anything to do with any beach clubs – it was golf, frost delays, gin rummy, and sleep.
Now there are about a gazillion courses in the greater Myrtle Beach area. In the mid-90s I blitzed through the area playing 12 courses in 4 days, but as you might surmise, I hardly saw the saw the area, let alone any beach clubs. Imagine that a golf course together with a beach club. That fits two of my favorite pastimes. This time it will be different.
Now I join my first sojourn with the esteemed Road Warriors, which for me will be rediscovering Myrtle Beach. With several wine fronts expected to pass through, new friends to meet, scrumptious dinners, and more great golf courses, it should be quite a challenge, but I’m up to it though I am still not sure if there will be time for any beach clubs.
As I return almost 2,600 courses, many more golfing friends, and nearly fifty years later to Myrtle Beach, I just wish that my Dad and my old friend George were along to enjoy the trip. My first toast will quietly be to them – and I’ll be sure to call my Mom as well. Thank you all for fostering my love for this wonderful game!