Courses & TravelJanuary 17, 2009

Dear Matty G.,

__As a subscriber to Golf Digest, I especially enjoy the travel section of your magazine.  I enjoy reading about golf destinations, especially when I've visited the locations. I've always thought that the destinations in your travel section were interesting, but typically out of my price range. These thoughts were confirmed in the February issue about Myrtle Beach edited by Matt Ginella. The article states, "I ordered a sampler platter of some of the best Myrtle Beach has to offer the unpretentious, bottom line-conscious golfer." In many ways your travel section needs a reality check.

I'm a bottom-line conscious golfer with many golf trips under my belt (including three to Myrtle Beach). Of the six courses listed (all top quality I might add) the cheapest green fee is $125 with the average green fee of $189. I'm an avid golfer and I can count on one hand the times I have spent more that $100 on a green fee. Even with the package price of $1,099 quoted in the article, the cost of this golf trip along with travel and incidentals, would be in the $1,500 range. Though my golfing friends and I would love to take this trip, the trip is not for the bottom line conscious golfer. The trip is for the upscale golfer.

Mike Jamieson

Bloomfield Hills, MI.__

Mike,

Thank you for your letter and I appreciate the fact that you appreciate the travel section. As you might imagine, it's a fun set of pages for my colleagues and I to fill each month.

I also appreciate your concern for the price points of the courses I played in the February Away Game to Myrtle Beach. But in terms of a reality check, pardon me for getting real for a minute.

Myrtlebeach_2

First, I did say that I was going "to play the best Myrtle Beach has to offer the unpretentious, bottom line conscious golfer." I don't want to make a blanket statement but I will in this response. Anyone who plans a golf trip to Myrtle Beach is an unpretentious, bottom line conscious golfer. The "upscale golfer" plans trips to Pebble, Pinehurst or Sea Island. Myrtle's market is the other end of the spectrum. That being said, and even though prices of all golf will continue to come down, you still have to pay to play the greats, regardless of where you are. Off the street in peak season, the greats are only $200 in Myrtle and $500 at Pebble.

Here's another spoon full of real soup. I can't imagine Digest subscribers want to read about the worst Myrtle has to offer, or even three pages on the cheapest golf Myrtle has to offer.

One set of prices I quoted in my story are walk-in rates during peak season, but you'd never go to Myrtle Beach and just walk-in from off the street in April. Having been to Myrtle a few times I'm sure you know this, but you'd always contact one of several golf-package booking services. (I worked with golfdesk.com, but there are others). When you book through a service, you get more access for less money.

Destinations like your backyard in Michigan, the RTJ Trail in Alabama or the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach are known to be the value golf hubs of the country, if not the world. Although I'm the travel editor and I had been to Myrtle Beach in the past, I had not played a lot of golf down there (zero of the roughly 1,800 holes to be exact). So, for this trip, I decided to try and see six of the best it had to offer and to see two courses in each of the three sections of the 60-miles of golf. I played two in the north, two in the middle and two in the south.

In this case, I would not recommend doing what I did (six rounds in three days and cover that much territory in such a short amount of time). Ultimately, I hope a reader can play one or both of the courses in a particular section I played (north, middle and south) and build a trip around them, filling in the gaps of an itinerary with some less expensive courses in that area.

I've heard Myrtle Beach gets doused by the occasional bad bit of PR because of the strip clubs and strip malls, but it far exceeded my expectations. From the small and efficient airport, Greg Norman's Steak House, the lodging options and the hospitality, it was clear the area was built for the manic hacker looking to get more bang for his buck. Even if you did dare to do the same trip I did, priced out at $1,099, which included those six rounds of great golf and four nights at the Barefoot Resort Golf Villas, that's averaging a little more than $100 per round of golf and $100 for each night of lodging. And again, none of those courses were less than four and a half stars and Barefoot's lodging is some of the best in the area. I'm sorry, if reality is what you're looking for, that's a real good deal.

*--Matty G.

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