Families Turn To Myrtle Beach For The Best Values During Family Golf Month

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Country superstars Amy Grant and Vince Gill are the "Spokes-Family" for month-long festivities this July.

Golf is a great way for families to spend unhurried time together

"Golf is a great way for families to spend unhurried time together," says popular country music artist Amy Grant who, along with her singer-husband Vince Gill, makes up one-half of the official "spokes-family" for Play Golf America's annual Family Golf Month this July. And when families look for an affordable destination to vacation and tee it up, there's no better place than Myrtle Beach, America's golf capital.

Myrtle Beach has more than 100 golf courses, many of them officially listed among America's greatest. And, greens fees in this golf-centric town are surprisingly affordable -- especially in the summer months when most visitors to the area have their sights set on the area's pristine beaches.

Here's a look at some of the Myrtle Beach area's best deals. All these offer great summer rates and have special discounts for kids when accompanied by a paying adult.

On the unhurried southern end of Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand, there's no better place to take the family than Pawleys Plantation. 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. In addition to golf, families can enjoy cycling and swimming here, as well as checking out the many species of sea birds that make their home there. When it's time to chow down, the kids can choose from traditional kid-friendly fare, while Mom and Dad can enjoy gourmet dishes prepared by a head chef who was recently named "Grand Champion" at an American Culinary Federation competition.

At Pawleys Plantation, the golf course winds through semi-tropical forests and treats players to spectacular water views. 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.

Pawleys Plantation is also a great place to take the family for golf school. The on-site Phil Ritson-Mel Sole Golf School is one of the Top 25 schools in the U.S. 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.

You can treat the family to a taste of Old World charm at 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 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.

The Glens is the place to immerse a family of golf enthusiasts in golf and its heritage. You can also bring a fishing pole and drop a line in the river or take a short drive to the beach during those lazy post-round afternoons.

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.

Near Sunset Beach on the northern end of the Grand Strand, the massive Sea Trail Golf Resort is a 2000-acre resort playground that the kids will find irresistible. With three championship courses, practice greens, a lighted driving range, a Custom Clubs Store and a PGA-sanctioned Golf Learning Center, Sea Trail has everything a family might need. Guests stay in beautiful villas that deliver panoramic views of the golf courses and lakes. There's also a 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.

If your idea of a summer golf vacation begins at the beach, check out Sands Resorts. Sands offers a number of very affordable golf packages and accommodations overlook the wide Atlantic (http://www.sandsresorts.com/golf/packages.aspx). There's always something to do at Sands Resorts, which has several wonderful restaurants and the family-oriented beach bar Mango's. Kids will love the on-site waterpark and the youth-oriented programs. 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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