On a recent visit, I was surprised at the tremendous growth the area has seen in the past 10 to 12 years.
There are now over 460 hotels with 80,000 guest rooms and 1,800 full-service restaurants with plenty of
visibility to passing motorists on their busy roads. Giant crabs, huge alligators, big dolphins, dinosaurs,
pirates, lava-spewing volcanoes, man-made mountains, and other sights sit at the entrance to many of the
restaurants, theaters, nightclubs and roadside attractions. One attraction not to miss is Family Kingdom Amusement Park and Water Park (1-843-626-3447) on the oceanfront.
I recently had the pleasure of playing 18 holes at the Grande Dunes Resort Course with club pro Jason Mitchell, Roy
Edmondson of the Myrtle Beach Chamber, and Steve Mays, Director of Marketing of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. I learned a lot from all of these guys about Grand Strand golf and even
had a great golf clinic at the Grande Dunes Golf Academy by instructor Austin Hockey after our round. The Golf Academy also offers, half, one, two, and three day schools, along with
junior development, corporate programs and private lessons.
Grande Dunes provides complimentary practice balls at their state-of-the-art practice facility and has 3 different large
practice greens for putting, chipping and pitching. The carts have tees, towels, ball and club washer, two bottles of water and sand divot mix for each player.
The course, set on a bluff overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, is ranked among the Top 75 resort courses in the
country. It offers panoramic views of the waterway and maritime forest and has numerous elevation changes, wide fairways and acres of lakes. The most picturesque hole on
the course is Hole #14, a par 3 that has a 50-foot elevation drop from tee to green and, like others, is protected by bunkers and runs along the Intracoastal Waterway. To take
a virtual tour of the entire course, visit www.grandedunes.com/golfresortcourse.htm. Tip: Take plenty of golf balls with you for your round!
The Resort Course is one of two championship courses here (the other is the Members Club) and part of the 2,200 acre master community stretching from the ocean to
beyond the Intracoastal Waterway. The new Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, the Marina Village and the Grande Dunes Marina are part of it.
High seas adventures on Grand Strand include dolphin watching trips to the Atlantic and fishing. At Anchor Marina in North Myrtle Beach, some
friends and I boarded the Island Girl Jet Boat (1-843-663-RIDE) for a dolphin viewing trip - we saw several dozen following a shrimp trawler just outside the mouth of the Intracoastal at
the ocean. I didn't have time to check out the dolphin (mahi-mahi) and tuna fishing, but chatted with Captain Randy (www.SeaQuestMB.com) about the great action found offshore
from his 38-foot sportfishing boat.
Premier Resorts at Barefoot Resort (866-888-6608 and www.barefootgolfresort.com) is brand new and a great place to be based in
Myrtle Beach (1-800-356-3016) when enjoying most of the region's activities and attractions. The resort boasts a large, modern marina, yacht club villas
where I recently stayed, a swing bridge across the Intracoastal, a conference center, health and fitness
center and a large swimming pool on the shores adjacent their outstanding restaurant, Docksider's Grille.
Dining Tip: I can highly recommend the Bacon-Wrapped Scallops appetizer and Shrimp Po'boy for lunch.