The Masters at Augusta National Marks The Start of 'Golf Season' for Many Golfers: While Tiger Hunts for a Major win, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Prepares for its Spring Golf Season

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For recreational golfers, The Masters is the event that inspires them to dust off the winter chill, take up their clubs and head for the links. It's the true start of their golf season. And, there's no better way to get the golf season off to a good start than heading for a few days of play in America's golf capital, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Tiger Woods and the PGA's other top golfers are in Augusta, Georgia this week for one of golf's most revered tournaments, The Masters. And while The Masters is always a special event in the world of golf, this year is extraordinary.

2008 marks the 50th anniversary of Arnold Palmer's first victory at Augusta National. This year, Gary Player is competing in his 51st Masters -- breaking the record for most consecutive appearances that he has shared with Palmer. It's also the 50th anniversary of the christening of "Amen Corner" -- three pivotal holes given that name by legendary Sports Illustrated author Herbert Warren Wind who, in a moment of inspiration, borrowed a phrase from an old jazz tune and created one of golf's most memorable descriptors.

Many golfers are inspired to re-energize their game after the Masters and some plan their annual trip to the beach near this time. Most golfers in the Northeast and Midwest can reach Myrtle Beach by car within a day. Those who fly in can arrive and catch 18 all in one day.

Myrtle Beach is one destination that is both world-class and extremely affordable. In fact, no other spot on the East Coast offers so many high quality golf courses matched up with such excellent accommodations.

Just a few miles from the center of Myrtle Beach, the Village at the Glens sits overlooking the spectacular, award-winning Heather Glen Golf Links. Run by the prestigious Glens Golf Group, it is a perfect home base for a four-day tour of all the 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. Across the street from Heather Glen is Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links -- often referred to as "Myrtle Beach's Most Talked About Course" in part because of its extraordinary views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Nearby Possum Trot is known as the "Friendliest Course On The Beach" and its Old English design features spacious fairways, challenging par 5's, and flawlessly manicured greens. Inspired by world-famous courses like Winged Foot and Augusta National, Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club is located on the banks of South Carolina's beautiful Waccamaw River.

Find out more at or Visitors can even book a golf vacation online with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Myrtle Beach is one of the nation's top beach destinations and those golfers who want to stay near the ocean and play golf can easily do so. In fact, the Glens have teamed up to create a special package with Sands Resorts, a collection of six fun-filled oceanfront locations that deliver an incredible number of on-site activities.

There are restaurants of all types, indoor and outdoor pools, an on-site waterpark, and a concierge service. This is also the place for families that just can't bear to leave home without the family dog. Sands offers a dog-friendly package for just $50.00 per dog per stay where Fido gets a bag of treats and dog bowls, plus a designated walking area is available for daily exercise ( or call (800) 386-1872).

Stay in a suite or villa on the beach and watch the sunrise over the Atlantic. Then, head inland a few miles to play Glen Dornoch, Shaftesbury Glen and Heather Glen - all for under $400 for 3 nights/3 rounds and 3 breakfasts. Check it all out at or call 877-726-3762.

About 25 minutes north of the center of Myrtle Beach, visitors will find one of the Grand Strand's best "stay and play" experiences at Sea Trail Golf Resort & Convention Center in Sunset Beach, N.C. This 2000-acre resort has three championship courses and is known for its easygoing southern style. Golf amenities include practice greens, a lighted driving range, a Custom Clubs Store and a PGA-sanctioned Golf Learning Center. Guests have access to a Village Activity Center with indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, and a licensed massage therapist. Accommodations are in beautiful, Carolina-style villas that feature panoramic views of the golf courses and lakes.

If breaking away for a true vacation is out of the question, convince the boss that Sea Trail should be the next pick for the company's executive retreat or conference. With over 60,000 square feet of meeting and function space, Sea Trail can handle all kinds of meetings.

To learn more about Sea Trail, go online to or call 888-675-9237.

For those who enjoy a little Charleston-style elegance with their golf, head for the Carolina Lowcountry and Pawleys Plantation on the southern tip of the Grand Strand. This is a place that drips with the Southern charm of Kiawah and the casual elegance of Hilton Head -- but without the high price tags. It even delivers five-star gourmet dining at a three-star price, with dishes prepared by a head chef who was recently named "Grand Champion" at an American Culinary Federation competition.

At Pawleys Plantation, fairways are lined with massive 200-year-old moss-draped live oaks. There are egret and heron rookeries and greens backed by glorious multi-colored salt marshes. The resort's Jack Nicklaus signature golf course is ranked among the top 50 in the state by no less than the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel, a group of 125 golfers who must play and rate the 380 courses in the state.

Golfers looking to launch into spring like Tiger Woods should check out the on-site Phil Ritson-Mel Sole Golf School (one of the Top 25 in the U.S.), which is headquartered there. The management sets its 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. Perfect for small meetings and executive retreats, the resort also offers one of the nicest small conference centers on the East Coast.

Learn more at or call 800-367-9959.


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Jamie Wilburn

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