The Myrtle Beach Golf Scene


Golf has long been an integral part of the fabric of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Dating back to 1927 when the very first golf course, Pine Lakes Country Club, opened its doors; Myrtle Beach has been a golf destination. The character of the golf industry in Myrtle Beach has grown, changed, ebbed and flowed greatly over the years; but one thing has remained consistent, and that is that Myrtle Beach is a true golf destination for golfers the world over. As such, the impact of golf on our local economy, and most certainly the real estate market, is significant. 

Myrtle Beach has a lot to offer. Sixty miles of pristine beaches, tons of family fun and attractions, outdoor activities such as fishing, boating and other water sports, shopping and world class live music with the Carolina Opry, Alabama Theater and, more recently, the annual Carolina Country Music Fest.

Currently, approximately 86 golf courses call the Myrtle Beach area home. But the golf industry started here many years ago with a single course. In 1927, Robert White, then the first president of the PGA of America, built Pine Lakes Country Club. It was built on some dunes just a scant half mile from the ocean right in the center heart of Myrtle Beach. Over the years it's
become affectionately called “The Granddaddy” and has been played by countless numbers of visitors to the Grand Strand. Historically, it holds much significance including being the birthplace of the magazine, Sports Illustrated, where in 1954, Henry Luce and others with the Time-Life magazine group came up with the idea to begin a sports magazine. 

Most recently, Pine Lakes has been brought back to its original glory by architect, Craig Schreiner. The course was returned to, in large part, the way it looked back in the mid 1920s when it was constructed. The greens and bunkers were completely redone, and, from early reports and comments, the results have been nothing but spectacular.

Of course, as Myrtle Beach grew, so did the golf industry. After somewhat of a
retraction post 2006, the golf industry has steadily been enjoying increase in popularity throughout the country and Myrtle Beach is no different. Golf is very accessible in the Grand Strand area. In addition to the 86 golf courses, there are also three par three courses and 34 miniature golf courses. In 2019, pre COVID, approximately 2.7 million rounds of golf were played in the Grand Strand area.

While many businesses along the Grand Strand suffered during COVID outbreak, the golf industry persevered. Golf insiders indicate that while the 2020 season was far below normal, this year’s (2021) numbers are approaching normal again. According to Dave Genevro, General Manager of Barefoot Resort and Golf, things are looking great for the fall golf season across the Grand Strand. “This year we weren't back to normal rounds for the spring package season in April and May, but since about mid-May to end of May and throughout, month to date, the golf
business has been tremendous here at our destination in Myrtle Beach.” Asked about the projections for the fall season, Genevro states: “As of right now, the fall season looks spectacular for everyone involved here at our destination”.

Even though there weren't a great deal of outof-town or outof-country golfers coming into the area to play during the outbreak, many golfers, who were within driving distance, were able to come and enjoy play in Myrtle Beach. Golf is one of the few activities that you could play it in a safe manner during a pandemic. Area courses took extra precautions during the COVID outbreak to protect the golfers who came to their property allowing such things as remote check-in, removing golf rakes and bunkers and prohibiting contact with the pins to minimize exposure of the virus. Courses took extra precautions and sanitizing golf carts and required mask when players were unable to socially distance. But because golf is an outside sport, socially distancing was quite easy. In fact, as Genevro quickly points out, interest in golf actually increased during the pandemic. “You know, as bad as last year was, golf in general got a shot in the arm. People weren't able to do many things. Golf was more or less resurrected. People that were playing, just a few times a year, all of sudden were working from home or not working at all and had time on their hands and many of them went to the outside activities and went to the golf course, and they haven't stopped since. They're playing. They're taking golf trips. They're enjoying the game again, and I think the one positive that we can take from the negativity of the pandemic is that golf, as a sport has had tremendous growth.”

Myrtle Beach is experiencing a growth at its regional airport. In 2020, during the
pandemic, air travel was, of course, suppressed. However, 2021 numbers from the regional authority indicate that we will be back on track towards the almost 1.3 million passengers moving through Myrtle Beach. The addition of more carriers into the area and more destinations to and from Myrtle Beach has, of course, increased the footprint of those attracted to Myrtle Beach for golf reasons.

Several groups provide golf packages in the Myrtle Beach area. Most notable or most well known is the Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday providing golf packages for just about every golf course on the Grand Strand. Golf packages can include combinations of golf, lodging and extracurricular activities such as deep-sea fishing or visits to local amusement parks.

Locals enjoy many different options when it comes to finding affordable golf. Among those, the Myrtle Beach Golf Passport, the Prime-Time Golf Pass and The Legends Players Club Card are the most popular. All these different memberships allow local players highly discounted rates to the area's top golf courses.

For example, Myrtle Beach Golf Passport includes access to courses such as The Barefoot Golf Resort courses, Tidewater and Glen Dornoch in the north. Grand Dunes, Arrowhead and Myrtle Beach National in the center and Caledonia, Pawley's Plantation and the Heritage Club to the south, just to name a few. Overall, the Passport membership gives you access to 72 of the finest golf courses along the Grand Strand.

Another discount card, the Prime-Time Signature Card, offers locals discounts to 21 of the area's best golf courses. There is some overlap between the Prime and the Passport course offerings and it would do one good to check to see the rate differences at the different courses where there is an overlap, but overall, the Prime-Time Signature Card is a great value for locals. Another good value is the Players Card offered by the three courses at the Legends Golf Complex. This card allows players preferential tee times, unlimited use of practice facilities and
deeply discounted rounds for just $29.99 per month. If you're one who likes to practice at a first-class practice facility, play three great golf courses at deep discounts, this card may be for you.

To be sure, the burgeoning growth of the local golf industry directly impacts real estate growth and values here at the beach. Statewide, 2018 numbers indicate that the economic impact of golf expenditures, both on and off course, was in the area of 2.59 billion dollars. Of that number, about 55% can be attributed to Myrtle Beach. Golf brings in dollars for many market sectors, including real estate growth. Myrtle Beach is one of the hottest destinations for retirees along the eastern seaboard. Reasonable housing costs, low taxes, temperate weather and, of course golf, all make the Grand Strand an attractive place to enjoy retired life.

By: S.H. June & Associates, LLC - September 2021

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