"Girlfriends Getaways" Gaining In Popularity

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Golf is rapidly becoming the centerpiece of Girls Getaways to Myrtle Beach, S.C. and for those looking for a trip that revolves around golf, great food and abundant shopping opportunities, the Grand Strand area offers some outstanding options. Many courses are women-friendly, with luxurious (yet very affordable) accommodations.

More and more, when girls just want to have fun, they're taking golf vacations together in groups of four or more. Whether it's just for a weekend or a week, women are breaking away from the hectic pace of jobs and families and recharging their batteries with golf-centered getaways with their girlfriends.

Here's a look at a few of the most popular spots for girlfriends to get away:

For women in search of style and genteel ambiance, Pawley Plantation is the place to go. A popular choice for women's groups, this "gated" community is warm, welcoming and secure. Here you will find Charleston-style elegance, the Southern charm of Kiawah and the casual elegance of Hilton Head -- but at a great rate. You'll even find gourmet dining with dishes prepared by a head chef who was recently named "Grand Champion" at an American Culinary Federation competition.

At Pawleys Plantation, the atmosphere is lush and the views spectacular. Fairways are lined with massive 200-year-old moss-draped live oaks and greens are set against multi-colored salt marshes. The manageable Jack Nicklaus signature golf course is ranked among the top 50 in the state by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel, a group of 125 golfers (25% of whom are women) who play and rate the 380 courses in the state.

Female golfers looking to tune up their games will want to check out the on-site Phil Ritson-Mel Sole Golf School (one of the Top 25 in the U.S.), which is headquartered at Pawleys Plantation. This top-ranked school is surprisingly affordable -- its management sets tuition rates significantly lower than other top schools so that the school is accessible to even the budget-minded.

Accommodations at Pawleys Plantation are in Lowcountry style villas that line the Nicklaus course. Learn more at http://www.pawleysplantation.com or call 800-367-9959.

Those who like a little Old World charm with their golf should check out The Glens Golf Group's Village at the Glens (http://www.glensgolfgroup.com). This Scottish-themed resort is the perfect home base for a four-day tour of the scenic and women-friendly Glens courses -- Heather Glen, Glen Dornoch, Possum Trot and Shaftesbury Glen.

Voted the "Best New Course" in America when it opened two decades ago, the flagship of The Glens Golf Group golf courses, Heather Glen, sits on a magnificent, 400-acre historic site in Little River, S.C. Just across the street from Heather Glen is Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links which features extraordinary views of the Intracoastal Waterway and three of the most challenging and scenic finishing holes on the Grand Strand. Nearby Possum Trot -- the "Friendliest Course On The Beach"-- is known for its Old English design, spacious fairways, challenging par 5's, and flawlessly manicured greens. Over on the banks of South Carolina's beautiful Waccamaw River, there's Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club with a design inspired by world-famous courses like Winged Foot and Augusta National.

For a uniquely elegant vacation at The Glens, check out the "Shaftesbury Suites." Designed for discriminating groups of 16 to 20, the suites are exquisitely appointed in an Old-world Style. Groups will receive 4-star service and enjoy exclusive after-hours access to the Shaftesbury clubhouse for private parties.

More information about Glens packages is at http://www.glensgolfvacations.com. Golf vacations can be booked online with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Looking for relaxation in true Southern style? Check out Sea Trail Golf Resort & Convention Center, a 2000-acre resort with three championship courses, practice greens, a lighted driving range, a Custom Clubs Store and a PGA-sanctioned Golf Learning Center. Guests stay in beautiful villas that deliver panoramic views of the golf courses and lakes. Women will especially enjoy Sea Trai's Village Activity Center which features indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, and a licensed massage therapist on staff.

Golf at Sea Trail is played over gently rolling terrain and through forested areas of pine, dogwood and live oak. The course architects are some of the best-known names in golf -- Dan Maples, Rees Jones and Willard Byrd -- and each architect brought a unique design philosophy to his Sea Trail course, resulting in three distinctly different challenges.

To learn more about Sea Trail, go online to http://www.seatrail.com or call 888-675-9237.

For those who think about lazy days on the beach when they dream of a golf vacation, Myrtle Beach offers a great option in Sands Resorts. Sands offers a number of very affordable golf packages (http://www.sandsresorts.com/golf/packages.aspx) and accommodations are overlooking the wide Atlantic. On-site, Sands Resorts has several wonderful restaurants, a really fun waterpark, and the popular beach bar, Ocean Annie's. And while the golf courses are not right on site, they are within a short drive of any of the six major oceanfront resorts that make up Sands. Sands Resorts is a "preferred partner" with the brand new Hard Rock theme park (http://www.hardrockpark.com) and even provides a shuttle for guests who want to visit the park. Best of all, some of the best outlet shopping on the East Coast is just up the street.

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Jamie Wilburn

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