Usually we go to Atlantic Beach, NC or Hilton Head but for some reason Mrs. Commish wanted me to show her Myrtle Beach, a place I had visited many times in the past. Although being there more than two dozen times, strangely I knew almost nothing about the area. All of my previous visits had been golfing trips in either December or January, which, coincidentally, is exactly when the rates for lodging and greens fees are at their absolute lowest. I could show her “courses I have played,” and “bars that have the Golden Tee game”, but other than that was there anything else to do in Myrtle Beach?
It seemed that there must be, but, just in case, I packed my clubs along with beach chairs, umbrellas, suitcases and food and off we went for our “Myrtle Beach Experience.” Oh yeah, our daughter, Gwaltney, and her husband, “That Boy Next Door” or TBND for short, came down for the week also. Since Gwaltney hates to miss a vacation and plays a little golf, we always get in a round sometime during our vacations, but, ironically, in the golf mecca of the world, she didn’t bring her sticks simply because she happens to be pregnant and is due next month. Oh well, it is a family vacation, after all.
We arrived just before the 8 p.m. check-in time and were delighted to find that our condo in North Myrtle Beach was just across the street from the ocean. For those not familiar with the area, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach are separate towns separated by two or three other little burgs and about 20 miles. However, unless you are extremely observant, it all looks like and feels like one big seamless town and is considered to be the “Grand Strand.” After a week there, I think of North Myrtle (hereafter referred to as NMB) as kind of like Key West, laid back with “island music” coming out of the bars and clubs while Myrtle Beach itself (or MB) is more rock-’n-roll. NMB has local, small businesses while in MB you can find Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, the NASCAR Café, Planet Hollywood, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, etc. Depending on your age and temperament both NMB and MB has something for everyone.
|Feeding at Alligator Adventure|
When visiting Myrtle in the past, one of the Bad Golfers Association’s favorite courses was a little gem called Eastport Golf Course. We deemed it our “home course” and tried to play it at least every year or two. This course produced the Commish’s infamous 16 on one hole and The Snowman’s never-to-be-forgotten 7-putt on another. We also have had some of our best rounds on this course whenever there had been a little more sleep and maybe a little less beer involved. Sometime after our trip in 2008, Eastport was closed to make way for more condos and homes. Nothing is sadder than to see a fine golf course become overgrown and uncared for and such was our remembrance of Eastport when we last saw it in January of 2009.
After carrying all of the family’s gear up three flights of steps in our condo, I was reading through some of the resort-supplied information and saw that Eastport had been reopened under the name of Valley Eastport Golf Course. If I only played one round this trip it was definitely going to be at this course. Bear in mind that Myrtle has almost 100 courses, many of them world-class and designed by the biggest names in the business, but this little course, less than 6300 yards, has a special place in my heart. Now all I needed was a little time to myself when we were not enjoying all of that family time together. Alas, it was not to be, as we found so many things to do that the week went by as if it was only a weekend getaway.
Waking up on Monday morning Mrs. Commish and I turned on the cable station that touts the various eateries and clubs to visit. While we aren’t what you would call “club-types” we definitely are the eating type! A diner named “Dino’s” was featured and the owner spoke so glowingly of his breakfasts that we went looking for his place…and it was well worth it. Friendly waitresses and conversations between tables really made this the place to eat breakfast. I had Eggs Benedict Florentine and Mrs. Commish had simple grits, eggs and their signature “special” country ham.” The Belgian waffles that were going to so many of the tables really made us want to come back for more and we made a note to return but, alas, there was not enough time.
Alligator Adventure, sounds like a tourist trap, doesn’t it? Well, find time to go. In fact there is so much to see that your admission allows you to go back a second time, and we did. It reminded me of the “Crocodile Hunter” on TV and his zoo in Australia. Lots of things to see and animals to learn about…much more than just a gator show. One of the crocs, “Utan,” is over 20 feet long and 2,000+ pounds and watching the handlers feed this colossus was spectacular.
When we finally got around to playing some golf it was of the miniature variety. Our standard bet was for ice cream and with so many local places to get cones and sundaes I hardly minded missing so many putts. The courses are huge and gaudy as each tries to outdo the other in order to attract players. You can’t pick a bad course so just play any one or two and enjoy. The afterwards visit the Sugar Shack in NMB. It looks like a dive but is a really friendly place to get ice cream. Plus they usually have some live music that you can listen to while you drown your sorrows in whipped cream and chocolate chip cookie dough.
Then, of course, there is the beach part of Myrtle Beach. Very impressive. Wide with fine, white sand and a shallow slope that lets you go out close to 75 feet without needing to tread water. This became a daily event as we walked across the street with our umbrella and beach chair and proceeded to “zone out” for several hours each day. The weather was spectacular. Mid-eighties every day and low to mid sixties after the sun went down. September is the time to go, I bet the golfing would have been terrific, too. Or more precisely, the golf courses would have been spectacular even if the scoring wasn’t.
After all, I am the Commish of the Bad Golfers Association.