Great golf in Myrtle Beach, plus fab Brookgreen Gardens and Murrell's Inlet
MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA – Golf, glorious golf.
There are said to be 102 courses in this town or area, and any way you shake your putter that’s a lot of golf, folks.
I would’ve loved to try five or six, but in two days I only had time for two rounds, wuss that I am (and other things to check out). So I opted first for Pine Lakes, which is a nice course in very good shape but not a world-beater in terms of layout or design. Second, on Wednesday, was the Caledonia Golf and Fish Club down south of town.
OMG good is what it is; possibly the most beautiful course you could ever play away from the ocean. It’s not long and it’s not impossibly tight, but it’s pretty narrow in spots and there are fairway bunkers aplenty and a surplus of lakes and dozens of birds and small grey squirrels with black and white faces that look like a raccoon (I’m calling them squaccoons, by the way, and, yes, I’ve patented the phrase), as well as a lot of narrow approaches to greens that resemble a profile shot of Penelope Cruz, and that’s a very good thing (on both counts).
It’s in absolutely first-rate condition, and they even have complimentary chowder (I forgot to try it) and a great 19th hole, with a large porch that overlooks the tricky 18th hole and a large, golf ball-swallowing lake that you have to hit over on your approach shot.
It’s a real stunner, and no wonder it makes a whole of lot of fancy golf magazines’ top 100 lists. A pair of drinks on the porch was $10, and on the course it was $8.25 for two Coronas and a package of pretzels. Shoot, it’s more than that for a single tall boy of Keith’s up in Muskoka at Taboo.
Anyway, the golf here is tremendous. But there’s more to life – I’m told – than golf. So I opted to check out Brookgreen Gardens, also south of Myrtle Beach proper, and Murrell’s Inlet.
The Gardens are stunning; some 9,000 acres spread over what used to be four Southern plantations. There are magnificent oaks with dripping Spanish moss, acres of salvia and yellow daisies and hibiscus and lantana and dozens more plants and flowers, all gathered around more than 1,000 sculptures all made by American artists.
There are a lot of cherubs and statues of Diana (the Greek one, not British) and a big whack of horses. Nothing that made me think, “Wow, that’s really cool.” But the gardens are wonderful and there’s also a lowcountry area to display the local flora and there’s a zoo, too. All in all, a truly great place to spend a couple hours.
Following a very brief tour (I felt guilty after the volunteer guide insisted we’d need 45 minutes just for the sculpture garden), I headed up to Murrell’s Inlet, past funky bars and small motels and lovely homes on stilts to protect from flooding. The small village features a series of bars and pubs and restaurants along a small boardwalk that fronts a marshy oceanfront. Quite petite but also quite delightful, with colourful signs and pirate statues carved of wood and pubs such as Drunken Jack’s, which serves up a nice appetizer platter for $10 that consists of two small crab cakes, a small pile of spicy steak, two bacon-wrapped scallops and two bacon-wrapped shrimp, although why we needed so much pork – even in the South – I didn’t quite understand.
They also serve she-crab soup, which is apparently supposed to involve a bisque-like base, some sherry and milk or cream and a whole lot of crab. It’s called she-crab because most places add roe from the female of the species. Drunken Jack’s doesn’t do so.
I thought it was a touch sweet, but at least it wasn’t as sickly as the sweet tea I had a couple nights ago at the rib joint called Sticky Fingers. I mean, I love the South and all, but why on earth do they feel they need to dump a half pound of sugar in a poor, defenseless glass of iced tea? No wonder there are weight problems with folks in the U.S.
Of course, passing a Hardee’s restaurant on Highway 17 that advertised “Bottomless Fries” probably explains a few things, too.
I finally got some on Myrtle Beach proper and managed a few swims in the ocean late Wednesday afternoon. The water’s quite pleasant even this far north, and there are waves aplenty on a beach that stretches out for miles and miles.
All in all, a pretty good place. Look for more soon in the pages of Star Travel.
Tomorrow: my first-ever visits to Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Georgia.