Summer Golf Soars

September 5, 2008


The beaches are packed, sunscreen and flotation devices are the most popular items at Wal-Mart, and the family is ready for the annual trip to Myrtle Beach. In years past, the golf bag was about as likely to be part of a summer beach trip as the lawn mower

But times have changed and so have packing habits. Desirable tee times, the widespread acceptance of free golf for juniors and exceptional value have conspired to turn many family vacations into partial golf trips.

The coastal breeze Myrtle Beach is fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of makes all but the hottest of days suitable for 18 holes in GolfTown, USA, another considerable (although underreported) factor in luring golfers away from sandy beaches and into sand traps.


“The family and I came down,” said Cincinnati, Ohio native David Hosier between shots at Arrowhead Country Club. “I play to get away. I love playing down here in the heat. There is no loosening up, you hit the first tee and it keeps you going all day.”

Hosier, who planned to play four times during his trip, teed it up early, allowing him to get back to the family by lunch, a common practice for men unable to drive within a pitching wedge of America’s best courses without playing.

The rise in popularity of summer golf speaks partly to the changing vacation dynamics, and it is partly by design. Myrtle Beach’s Summer Family Golf Tournaments, weekly “captain’s choice” events that appeal to players of all skill levels have boosted play and raised awareness of summer golf.

The Summer Family events are one of the few that don’t have a target audience – everyone is welcome to play. Husbands and wives, parents and children, low handicappers and beginners fill out the tee sheet at the Summer Family Tournaments, adding to the event’s charm.

“We’ve had quite a few good times,” said Michael Martin, a Chesapeake, Va., resident who has played in Family Tournaments with his two sons and his wife over the years. “It’s a good format and very cheap – juniors don’t cost anything. It’s a tournament but it’s not really a pressure situation if you take it in the spirit it’s meant to be. It’s about getting out here and having fun.”

It also helps that some of Myrtle Beach’s best courses are part of the Summer Family Fun rotation, including King’s North and True Blue, two of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, according to Golf Digest. The Dye Course at Barefoot Resort, Arrowhead Country Club, Farmstead Golf Links and the Grand Strand’s newest course, Founder’s Club are also part of the 2008 lineup.


The Myrtle Beach area has also made a concerted effort to reach young golfers through its “Juniors Play Free” program. The Grand Strand has 41 courses, including some of the nation’s best, that allow junior golfers (kids 16 and under) to play for free throughout the year. Several other facilities permit Juniors to play for free during the summer and at deeply discounted prices the rest of the year.

Juniors play for free with a paying adult, which means a trip to the course is in lock step with a family vacation.

“Oh it’s huge. I think it’s great,” Scott Taylor, director of marketing for Signature Golf Group, a management company that includes Wicked Stick, Rivers Edge and Indigo Creek said. “It also promotes the game of golf which the PGA of America is very active about doing. Let’s get people more active and involved for later generations.”

The program is laying the foundation for future generations of golfers, while making summer in Myrtle Beach a thriving golf season as well.