Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Myrtle Beach deserves a mulligan!

What makes a golf course destination like Myrtle Beach worthy of a mulligan?

Some may say it is the beauty of the natural surroundings, others conjecture that the challenge is the most important factor when deciding whether or not to revisit a course during a vacation.

One of the most meaningful factors to consider as to whether or not to return to a facility or club would be the fun I had during my round. Although the saying of allowing a "smile be my umbrella" is easier said than done on the golf course, it also helps when the destination offers a plethora of experiences to take the mind off of the more than occasional ugly shot.

Let's face facts; although I am a competitive golfer, I'm certainly no Annika Sorenstam. I play within myself and have had my share of rounds in the 80's but, for the most part, I too am a weekend duffer, relegated to twilight rounds and whenever time allows.

It is for this reason that, when I decide to plan a short, weekend bounce, I head over to Myrtle Beach. Over one-hundred golf courses allow me choices depending on my comfort level and natural beauty, which seems to be almost a given since, according to the EPA, "a typical urban golf course is 110-120 acres and courses in resort areas may be 170-190 acres."

During my yearly visits to Myrtle Beach, I have played some courses on a recommendation only to find that the track (Tidewater, for example) was completely out of my league. Add to that the fact that the golf course was designed for real "players" and in a downpour with winds whipping about, it's enough to get your knickers in an uproar, deciding never to return.

Other courses I have played on several occasions after having a wonderful experience on the cushy, open and well-manicured fairways. Myrtlewood Palmetto and the Myrtle Beach National "triple play" are two that come to mind. Although the Myrtlewood Golf Club offers both PineHills and Palmetto courses, Palmetto's scenic landscaping and playable challenges allowed me the opportunity to score well yet feel as if I struggled a bit to chalk up those pars!

King's North Golf Course, Myrtle Beach National, was a favorite during one of our weekend jaunts. Accolades include being named one of "America's Top Ten New Upscale Courses", being dubbed one of America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses as rated in the 2007-8 edition of Golf Digest Magazine and also considered as one of the Top 100 for Women (by the now defunct Golf for Women Magazine. It's "signature hole", the par-3 island green, is as much of a must-play as the bronze statue of Arnold Palmer guarding the entrance of Myrtle Beach National is a "must-see".

South Creek and the West Course round out the golfing "trifecta" at Myrtle Beach National, making these three courses worthy of a visit from high handicappers right down to scratch players whose idea of a day out on the links is to beat the "King" himself! South Creek is relatively short and is also woman-friendly (not that a man can't have a "go" at it as well) but the West Course is as challenging as the North. If you deign to play all three, you will not be disappointed as the country club atmosphere permeates through the acreage.

The 2009 Myrtle Beach Golf Course of the Year as chosen by the MBAGCOA is Shaftesbury Glen Golf and Fish Club. Last year, this same venue was also voted one of the Top 50 Golf Resorts in the United States by Golf World Magazine. Golf Digest has mentioned that Shaftesbury just might have the best greens on the Grand Strand as well, placing this destination on my list of future "must play"golf courses.

Myrtle Beach is not all about golf, despite the top level of courses intertwined within the Grand Strand. Beach lovers will enjoy the view from right outside their condomimium balcony where there are plenty of activities for adults and kids alike. Even so, make sure the little ones get a get a golf club in their hands at least once during the stay, even if it's a sand wedge on a deserted stretch of beach! They'll literally have a blast out of the sand!

Other options for fun include trips to the Nascar Speedpark, Ripley's Aquarium, House of Blues and Broadway at the Beach where you'll find great food and nightlife for the bigger kids!

You never know what you'll see at Myrtle Beach. Once I arrived to see warbirds flying overhead! You may be one of the many people who, after visiting the Grand Strand, decide to make it a permanent vacation stop as this destination was recently been named as one of the top-ten most popular places to own a vacation property in the world!

For an inexpensive yet extremely satisfying stay, place Myrtle Beach on your short list so you too can experience it's good vibrations!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Will Tiger Woods let the FedEx Cup slip through his fingers?

Click here to listen.

Despite the fact that Tiger Woods missed his final putt at the 18th hole of the Barclays, he still made watching the event a nail-biting experience. Instead of fans cheering Woods to victory, however, this time his legion of die-hard followers were holding their breath as easy two-footers became part of his dilemma.

"Man," Woods said, "to miss as many putts as I did this week, to still have a chance on the last green with a putt, it goes to show you how good I am at hitting it."

Yes, Tiger is one of the greatest ball strikers of all time but it cost him just as much on the scorecard to slice one into the woods as to miss short putts. As Ian O'Connor mentioned, Woods' putter was "completely overmatched".

Could it be that Tiger has lost his moxie, is becoming less concerned about his game thus practicing his putting a bit less and is allowing his family to consume more of his time? Placing less importance on his game but savoring the important things in life could be the best thing that ever happened to Woods.

In spite of his misses, the number-one golfer in the world still has five wins to his credit this season as opposed to guys like Heath Slocum and Y.E. Yang who struggle to keep their tour cards each week. Woods is also leading the FedEx Cup playoffs in points and is still the hands-down favorite to win the $10 million prize.

So, Tiger Woods' "B" game is still strong enough to batter his opponents even though, on occasion, secondary Tour players shine. Every once in a while, a Riddick Bowe beats a Mike Tyson...that is what keeps fans coming out to watch.

As far as considering Woods' year a "letdown" (see link credit below) when comparing him to Roger Federer, each great player has had to defeat their "archrivals" but I believe that these enemies also come from within. Tiger Woods may be allowing this momentary lapse of career interest to occur only because, "our player career is a little bit longer than theirs (Federer)."

As for Jack Nicklaus, the jury is still out but, with time on his side, I think Woods will shake off his malaise and easily surpass the Golden Bear.

Even the Statue of Liberty s shocked that Tiger missed that seven-foot putt on 18!

This week on the Golf for Beginners podcast, we discuss if a tree is, in fact, 90 percent air and the odds of getting struck by lightning with the help of the Discovery Channel show, "Mythbusters". We also wonder if parents are doing enough to teach their children proper golf course etiquette after our twilight round this past week.

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