By Matt Hombach
Whether it feels like it or not, the first signs of spring begin every year in February.
Groundhog Day gets things rolling early in the month, followed by pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training down south. Many Baltimore area golfers also head south in February to warm up their bodies in milder climates and warm up their games so they’re ready when spring makes its way to the Mid-Atlantic by Masters week.
Crow Creek Golf Club in Calabash, N.C. is a good value for a winter golf get-away.
If you’ve never made a pilgrimage to the Carolinas during the winter or early spring, you’re missing out on one of the great joys in golf. There is nothing like packing up the clubs and heading out for a long weekend -- or week -- of golf while carousing with the guys or gals.
Planning Your Golf Road Trip
Unfortunately for most of us, college is long past. Back then we could make a quality road trip out of a few dollars, a few beers and a general destination in mind. Now that we’ve grown older and enjoy having a little more structure to our not-so-wild road trips, it’s important to do some serious planning prior to setting out on your golf getaway.
The ideal situation for the first-timer is to go with some golf-trip veterans to Myrtle Beach and the Carolinas. They usually have an itinerary in mind, know where they want to stay and know all the great places to play and eat.
If you are striking out on your own and planning a trip for you and your foursome with no prior experience, help is only a click of the mouse or a phone call away.
When it comes to Web sites about trips to the Carolinas, myrtlebeachgolf.com is basically the “end all be all.” The site gets nearly a million hits a year from inquiring golfers. An entire trip can be planned on this one site. If you’re not into the one-stop shopping, lots of other online offerings are just a few Google searches away.
Lots of golf getaway planners can be found on the web and will be happy to make plans for you. Just be prepared to pay a little more for the added convenience.
Some Must-Plays in Myrtle
Joe Rahnis, general manager at the Woodlands/Diamond Ridge Complex in Baltimore, organizes a group of about 20 golfers that heads to Myrtle Beach for a week each winter. Rahnis and his crew have played plenty of tracts in South Carolina over the years and he was happy to offer some tips on where to play.
“We’ve always had a lot of fun when we head down by playing the courses we knew we’d like and have played before, but also mixing it up and trying some new ones,” Rahnis said.
Some of the upscale courses he recommends in Myrtle Beach include Barefoot Landing (which boasts four championship courses), Grande Dunes and the Tournament Players Club of Myrtle Beach. On the value end of the scale, Crow Creek (pictured), Blackmoor and the Sea Trail Courses are all hidden gems that will still leave a few dollars in your pocket for a nice dinner after the round -- provided you covered all your bets on the course.
Prepare Yourself and Your Game
While you’re looking to have fun and enjoy playing golf on a trip to Myrtle Beach, you will enhance your experience by working on your game in the weeks before you depart. You’ll inevitably knock the rust off your game once you get there, but tuning things up in advance is important.
Hitting a few small buckets over the course of the week before you leave will go a long way in getting you ready to play. A few months of layoff from golf can make the club feel like a foreign object in your hands. It’s always a good idea to get re-acquainted before embarking on a golf excursion.
From a mental standpoint, don’t set your expectations too high in terms of score and quality of play. Just enjoy some early-season rounds and treat yourself to a fun, productive “spring training” in the Carolinas.
Issue 2.6: February 8, 2007