Sports Illustrated made some waves in South Carolina when it named Myrtle Beach the state's "Sportstown USA" in its 50th anniversary edition. Favoritism? Perhaps, since the popular sports magazine was born during a Time magazine executive's retreat to Pine Lakes International Golf Club, the first of more than 100 golf courses on the Grand Strand.Golfing in Myrtle Beach — Photo courtesy of bradleypjohnson
Or maybe SI knew what more sports fans and participants are discovering; there's a lot more to see and do in Myrtle Beach than golf. From the many watersports opportunities provided by the Atlantic Ocean and tidal inlets to the abundance of sports courts and fields, Myrtle Beach has become a popular destination for all sorts of sports.
But golf is king, of course, and rightfully so. The mild climate and diverse terrain make Myrtle Beach prime real estate for some of the most challenging and scenic courses on the East Coast. Thousands flock to the Grand Strand each year to play the oceanfront classics like The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, the Lowcountry layouts like the TPC of Myrtle Beach, and the former rice plantation courses such as Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawleys Island.
Courses built by world-renowned designers such as Pete Dye, Tom Fazio and Robert Trent Jones as well as legendary golfers like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman attract scratch golfers and novices alike. In fact, Myrtle Beach is home to the world's largest amateur golf tournament each year, the PGA Superstore World Am, which sees more than 5,000 Average Joes of all skill levels turn out to compete using their handicaps. They play on more than 60 different courses over five days to crown the king of the hacks.
Myrtle Beach is also known for watersports, and there are countless outfitters on the Grand Strand to help you get your ocean thrills. From extreme sports such as parasailing, jet-skiing and a water-powered jet pack to more laid-back activities like surfing, kayaking and paddleboarding, there are many opportunities to rent equipment and get instruction for a day of fun on the sea. Charter boats for deep-sea fishing excursions and dolphin-watching tours allow visitors to venture farther off the coast.
There are also seven public fishing piers scattered up and down the Strand - Cherry Grove Pier, Apache Pier, 14th Avenue Pier, Second Avenue Pier, Springmaid Pier, Myrtle Beach State Park Pier and Garden City Beach Pier - allowing fishermen to get a little bit closer to the action. Among the fish that can be caught along the coast are flounder, grouper, sea bass, snapper, cobia, king mackerel and even sharks. In fact, the world's largest tiger shark ever landed on rod and reel was an 18-foot, 1,780-pounder at Cherry Grove Pier.
A Myriad of Competitive Sports ... including Quidditch
Professional baseball, Division I college athletics, NASCAR-sanctioned auto racing and excellent facilities for youth and club competition are among the many options available to those who enjoy the spirit of competition. The Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Class A minor-league affiliate of the Texas Rangers, put on a great show to go with the baseball game in the cozy confines of Pelicans Park; Coastal Carolina University in nearby Conway fields teams in 15 sports; and Myrtle Beach Speedway has been holding Saturday night races since 1959.
New sports facilities in Myrtle Beach's Grand Park and the North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex attracts thousands of visitors for travel tournaments in baseball, softball, soccer volleyball, swimming and even quidditch, the sport made famous by the Harry Potter book series. The International Quidditch Association recently selected the Grand Strand to host its annual tournament, further proof that Myrtle Beach truly does have it all when it comes to sports.