Golf buddy trips are amazing things. I'm fortunate to go on one every March that's been happening for a quarter-century. So when a golf trip has been going on for almost a half-century, it piques my interest.
A group of guys from Philly made their first trip to Myrtle Beach in 1970. It was a four-day, fall trip with four courses on the docket. While the golf was good, they all left ill -- maybe they had a bad crab leg or something. But the illness made the friends vow to return in '71 for a week. This past week, the group marked the end of their 45th Myrtle Beach trip.
The group of four, which has only swapped out one member for another in 1989 due to health concerns, played their 10,000th hole of Myrtle Beach golf together on Thursday at Tidewater Golf Club. At the end of the trip, the quartet had spent 388 total days together on the Grand Strand -- marking more than a year of their lives together.
“It’s is absolutely the highlight of the year,” said Larry Spangler to Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. “It’s like being back in college with the boys. Good food, good golf and we get along really well.”
The 1989 trip was the only one in this 45-year stretch that was ever in doubt. Hurricane Hugo was making its way up the Atlantic coast and had struck Myrtle Beach, flooding many hotels and damaging a lot of courses. However, North Myrtle Beach had been somewhat spared, and the group found a hotel to replace their accommodations that had been flooded. The courses had been cleared of fallen trees and limbs. It was like they ran the place.
“We just owned the beach. It was so strange to see almost nobody down here," Spangler said.
Each year, the group picks a cluster of courses in the Myrtle Beach area to play. And with over 70 courses in the area, there variety is almost endless -- even for a 45-year-old group.
“It’s a great week, a tradition for us,” said trip-goer Craig Aiken, who joined in 1989. “What’s not to like about Myrtle Beach? Wonderful courses, wonderful restaurants, it’s just a great place.”