One of the coldest North American winters in recent memory likely means one of the hottest springs in history for the Myrtle Beach golf market. At least that's the hope of the Grand Strand golf industry, which sees a direct correlation between winter temperatures and spring rounds played. If history repeats itself, the spring of 2014 could be one for the record books in terms of rounds played.
Ready Fore Business — Photo courtesy of Barefoot Golf Resort
"The cold winter definitely hurt us in terms of walk-up rounds, but we've found that it's usually a great sign for spring," said David Courdier of the Grand Strand Golf Association. "We have all these golfers in New York, New England and Canada that haven't been able to get out and play since October, and they're going stir crazy to get out and play someplace warm. Our bookings are up for April and May and we anticipate a huge last-minute jump in tee times as soon as the weather starts to cooperate."
Indeed, the dreaded polar vortex that dipped as far south as northern Florida over the winter kept the golf bags and shoes in the car trunks of golfers who can play at the drop of a hat. But the wintertime golf blues have hackers itching to get back on the fairways and greens. The Grand Strand was hit especially hard, dealing with two ice storms that snapped trees and killed grass that normally survives the winter. But local courses took advantage of the downtime to do offseason upgrades and winterproofing, and now they are open and ready for business.
Also expecting a boom is the Myrtle Beach golf package industry, which allows visitors to book airline tickets, hotel accommodations and the courses of their choice. Many of the nicer courses and resorts also offer free meals, complimentary drinks and discounts to local restaurants and attractions. Hard corps golfers can book two tee times per day and play 36 holes or more, while more casual players can get in 18 and spend the rest of the spring day sightseeing or enjoying the nightlife.
The Grand Strand features more than 100 golf courses within a half-hour drive, so visitors could play two rounds a week for an entire year without hitting the same course twice. Several resort-style facilities feature multiple courses and accommodations on one property, such as Barefoot Golf Resort in North Myrtle Beach and Myrtlewood Golf Club in Myrtle Beach, allowing visitors to stay and play in one place. Walk-up golfers can also find savings in last-minute bookings of hotels and tee times.