May 11, 2001
This year’s spring golf trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina included a few surprises.
We learned that the southern route over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to I-95 at Emporia, Virginia chopped a good hour off the time spent going west across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Wish we’d figured that out a few years ago.
After staying overnight at Rocky Mount, North Carolina, we took Interstate 40 to Wilmington, North Carolina and then meandered along U.S. Route 17 toward our first course, Man O’ War (5601 Leeshire Blvd, Myrtle Beach; 843-236-8000).
As we drove by the dozens of golf courses along the way, almost every entrance sign advertised special reduced rates for afternoon play. That’s a pretty common sight during July and August in Myrtle, but not during the prime spring golf season. The parking lot at Man O’War was also sparse at noon, another surprise for an April Saturday.
On the other hand, the golf course was fun. A two-club breeze helped us concentrate, especially since water came into play on nearly every hole. The short island green 15th hole was especially tricky.
After our first round, we checked in at Litchfield Beach Golf Resort, in Pawley’s Island (800-354-0846). Our well-appointed two bedroom “fairway villas” backed up to The River Club golf course.
Sunday’s golf on Route 501 included two rounds, a first for our group. We spent the morning at the Heathland Course at The Legends (1500 Legends Drive, Myrtle Beach; 800-503-1983). This Tom Doak design recreates a Scottish links look, and beat the heck out of all of us. It was not the course’s fault, to be honest, although some of the blind shots made for more guesswork than most resort courses require.
We then played a scramble on an executive layout at nearby Belle Terre (4073 Hwy. 501, Myrtle Beach; 800-340-0072). The 1600-yard Skins Course was a pleasant challenge for our golfing-impaired group.
On Monday we experienced True Blue, one of the area’s newer courses (900 Blue Stem Drive, Pawleys Island; 888-483-6800). This Mike Strantz design impressed us with the sweep and swoop of the large fairways, huge greens, and beautiful surroundings. Some holes reminded us of Strantz’ work at the Stonehouse golf course near Williamsburg, Virginia.
Danny Gore, the PGA Professional at True Blue, confirmed my impression that Myrtle is now a bit overbuilt for golf. He described a recent meeting at which golf course operators were advised to hold onto every golfer they ever had, and then add 200,000 more. Gore said that for most courses, hosting 100 golfers on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday is “a very good day,” even during the busy season through mid-May.
It will be interesting to see how Myrtle’s course owners react to the intense competition, which is coming not only from their own layouts, but from other golf destinations such as Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, and Ocean City, Maryland.
We played our last round on Tuesday morning at the Litchfield Country Club (843-237-3411). The traditional, pretty layout reminded me of Dover’s Maple Dale Country Club, especially the fairly sharp doglegs through the thick trees.
There were a couple other surprises on the trip, including my first hole-in-one. I’ll write about that another time.
The Cape Henlopen High School golf team returned to winning form after their disappointing loss to No. 1 Dover on May 1. Mark Johnson’s 33 highlighted the team’s victory over Polytech on May 3 at Jonathan’s Landing Golf Course in Magnolia. Johnson made an eagle on one hole and parred the rest. Tyler Witman shot 35, while J.J. Oakley recorded a 38. Chris Donovan made his first qualifying score for the Vikings with a nice little 39, his best score of the year.
On Monday, May 8, the team traveled to Seaford Country Club to face the Blue Jays of Seaford High.
Coach Jerry Dorneman hoped his players understood they had a “wake-up call” from the narrow margin of the 166-169 victory. “Just because they go low in one or two matches, they shouldn’t just assume they’ll do it every time. Before the match, a few were saying this was an easy course and an easy team. They got a little cocky and almost lost it.” Johnson’s 38 sealed the win and took medalist honors. Witman shot a 42, his high score for the year. Adam Talley and Donovan both scored 43, while J.J. Oakley shot a fairly startling 44.