Southern charm

Myrtle Beach: golf capital of America also loaded with sunshine, entertainment and history


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Myrtle Beach, S.C. — Halfway through my first visit to Myrtle Beach I’m asking myself why I never discovered this area before.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/05/2016 (2511 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Myrtle Beach, S.C. — Halfway through my first visit to Myrtle Beach I’m asking myself why I never discovered this area before.

In just three days I have seen two amazing shows, walked along a sensational sandy beach, discovered an appreciation of the southern perspective at the Civil War Museum and golfed on three top-notch courses.

April is the beginning of the major tourist season for Myrtle Beach — although Canadians and northern U.S. visitors have also found it to be an excellent snowbird destination.

While night temperatures over the winter months can fall as low as 1 C, the daytime high averages from 13 C in January to 18 C in March. Early April is when the tourists really start to arrive in droves. By April the days can be very warm by our standards. These past few days of golf have been played in temperatures as high as 26 C.

Many golfers from Canada and the upper U.S. states fill the hotels and resorts during this period in an effort to tune up their swings before the regular seasons start in their home areas. Buddy trips are popular, where groups of golfers travel together to play in this region rich with golf options. With more than 100 courses to choose from it’s easy to see why. Fifty of the tracks are at least four-star rated and 14 of them are ranked among the top 100 public golf courses in the U.S.

Chris King is the public relations and marketing guru for the non-profit Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday consortium. He describes how this was not always a prime golf destination. “When our organization started in 1967, we had eight golf courses, and we were a sleepy beach town.” Today there is no doubt when he and his members market themselves as the golf capital of America. “We will have a million golf visitors this year and play in excess of four million rounds of golf. And buddy trips help make Myrtle Beach what it is.” He emphasizes it is a place where golf groups will have a great time on the course, but there are many other things to do after the games.

In the short time I have been here, I have already discovered there are so many things to do and see after golfing — so many in fact — it would be impossible to take them all in on one trip. And I can also definitely report Myrtle Beach is no longer is a sleepy town.

It is a prime restaurant area and is loaded with many sports bars, night clubs, cultural opportunities, shopping and other activities such as sports fishing.

There are a number of full-scale Broadway and Las Vegas-style shows to choose from. They tend to be in large specially constructed venues, with seating for at least two thousand people. They are well produced spectacles, using some of the most talented performers from around the U.S. and beyond. The Gaylord Entertainment group, who own the Grand Ole Opry, created ONE The Show, an especially extravagant production.

The Civil War Museum, interestingly incorporated into a gun shop and shooting range, may be small, but it really illuminates the roots of the differences between people of the south and north — differences that lead to a war resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties. The museum has artifacts ranging from ominous looking artillery to proclamations which enunciated how strongly the citizens of that day felt about the laws being introduced.

In the two shows I attended, and in at least one more I am aware of, the shows finales bring the crowds to their feet with rousing and emotional renditions of God Bless America and other patriotic hymns that help bind this great nation together.

While in both shows that I saw, the entertainment was somewhat country music oriented, this might be expected. ONE The Show is in a theatre named by and after the group Alabama, and it is produced by the Grande Ole Opry organization. But saying that, the show, nevertheless, truly is much more. It is by and large a broadly based variety show that brings together a blend of musical styles, and comedy that is unique and suitable for the entire family.

It is here in Myrtle Beach that Alabama perfected the sound that would make them famous. And it was because of the support they received from this community that they wanted to give back to it, with a musical venue that would entertain thousands, and bring forward budding entertainers who could make their way into the biggest leagues of entertainment.

Only a few kilometres down the road, the Calvin Gilmore Theatre is the home of the Carolina Opry, no relationship at all to the Gaylord’s Grand Ole Opry. Here the focus is much more country oriented, but with a significant number of non-country tunes blended in to create an entertaining evening of song and dance. One of the highlights of the show comes with the energy and dancing sounds of the America’s Got Talent two time finalists All That clogging group. Every time they came on the stage the crowd went wild in appreciation for the timing and intricacy of the dance choreography.

The days have been few so far, but long and enjoyable. I have tried to experience as much of the area as possible during this first half of my one week stay. Next week I hope to fill readers in on the rest of this genuinely enlightening journey of discovery.

If you go:

For dining take at least one meal at Thoroughbreds Chophouse and seafood Grille at Restaurant at 9706 North Kings Highway .

Try two dishes you won’t find anywhere else. Called Blackened Lollipop Lamb Chops this starter appetizer is pan seared with Creole spices and served with sweet potato fries and chipotle aioli, with two chops is big enough to serve two.

The New York steak encrusted with coarsely ground coffee beans, sea salt, and cracked peppercorns was delicious.

The Carolina Comedy Club at Broadway and Beach consistently presents the best comics on the circuit in a intimate atmosphere that facilitates the echoes of laughter that fill the room.

Ron Pradinuk

Ron Pradinuk
Travel writer

A writer and a podcaster, Ron's travel column appears in the Winnipeg Free Press every Saturday in the Destinations and Diversions section.

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