It's the day after the Masters. Now what do you do? Well, in Myrtle Beach, the party continues with the annual Monday After the Masters tournament.
Hootie & the Blowfish, fronted by now-country-music star Darius Rucker, have backed this tournament since 1993, held to raise money to benefit children's educational and junior golf programs in South Carolina. Over three dozen professionals take part in the event alongside a slew of celebrities from sports and music circles. This year, the Barefoot Resort's Dye course hosts the one-day event.
However, the rest of the year, Barefoot Resort & Golf is an outstanding place to enjoy golf. The resort boasts four courses on property, including the Dye course. Greg Norman, Tom Fazio and Davis Love III also contributed courses. The courses can be expensive for the average person during peak spring season, with cart and green fee coming to $188, but during the summer and fall, the courses can be played for as little as $105. They're worth it.
Last fall, I played the Love course, which was featured on Golf Channel's "Big Break" franchise. DL3 is an underrated designer. He always offers an intriguing mix of holes that require all kinds of shot shapes. He also tries to preserve ecosystems as best as possible, which often leads to carries and avoiding marshland, but the scenery is gorgeous and the shot demands not too onerous.
The hole that probably stands out most is the short par-4 fourth, which is reachable for players of almost all skill levels. It's a simple, straight shot to a long putting surface perched just atop a hill. To the left and behind the green is what the staff call the Ruins, a facade-looking brick wall that has an archway to and from the putting surface with ivy growing up and down it. The Ruins reappear on the par-4 sixth hole, too.
Perhaps the other eye-catching hole is the 11th, a short par-3 that actually has two tiny greens. From about 140 yards, either green is a mighty challenging target to hit, but it's a fun, unique shot.
The Love course closes on a par 5 that slides left the whole way, wrapping around marshland and a water hazard. There's plenty of room off the tee, but the hole narrows as the player approaches the green. It's a fun finish that allows a player to try to be a hero or lay back for a safe par.
The staff at Barefoot is wonderful, very attentive to the player's needs and marvelous hosts. Travel golf packages that include lodging at villas on the resort property are available.
A little further south down Route 17 Bypass is the Grand Strand's TPC, the TPC Myrtle Beach. The club was purchased last year by a Chinese group, which has put money back into the course and emphasized service.
The Tom Fazio-designed course, which opened in 1999, is a modest challenge for the average golfer. TPC Myrtle Beach isn't a resort course, however, with wide fairways and easy greens. Tall pines guard the fairways' edges, requiring players to hit good tee shots to put themselves into play. The greens are large, as one might expect with Fazio, but they have modest undulation through most of the course. There are some demanding tee and approach shots over water or marshlands, but there are bail-out areas.
The final two holes of the course are the best, and they'll leave the player with a great memory.
The par-3 17th plays about 180 yards from the blue tees, hitting a shot into the wind to a generous green guarded on three sides by water. There's a bunker on the left to make a bailout seem less attractive. The green has two tiers, with players who land short needing a great lag putt to make par.
The finishing par 5 is a lot of fun for the player who can knock the ball right down the middle of the right-to-left sloping fairway. Don't miss right, or you'll find a stream. Go left and you'll be laying up for sure. If you can hit it straight and long, you'll be tempted to go for the green, which requires a hook shot from a hook lie over or around a water hazard that runs on the left side of the final 200 yards of the hole. A layup is probably best for an easy par, but what fun would ending a round of golf be with a layup?
The staff could not have been better for members or visitors, even offering to pour water for us on the course.
TPC Myrtle Beach is also home to the Dustin Johnson Golf School. The school boasts one of the best practice facilities in the Myrtle Beach area, and a staff headed by Johnson's Coastal Carolina coach Allen Terrell will help you improve your game.
A round at TPC Myrtle Beach runs about $150, but it's a great experience at a facility once given a five-star rating by Golf Digest.