MyGolfSpy Experiences hates sounding like a broken record but facts are facts. And the fact is the best buddy golf trip is always the next one.
Another fact: Budget is always a factor in buddy trip planning. Are you looking for champagne and caviar or are beer and pretzels more your speed? And if it’s beer and pretzels, we have just the destination for you.
That is if five nights lodging, four rounds of golf with breakfast and lunch, two drinks per meal plus range balls included for less than $600 appeals to you.
And, no, we’re not talking about dog tracks and sketchy motels that give you a discount if you bring your own sheets. We’re talking about The Legends in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
And for under $600, it’s a no-brainer.
MyGolfSpy Experiences: The Legends
The Legends in Myrtle Beach includes five golf courses in three separate locations. The Legends itself is centrally located off Highway 501 and features condo complexes and three golf courses (Parkland, Heathland, Moreland). The Heritage is 45 minutes south in Pawleys Island while the Oyster Bay Golf Links is on the northern end of Myrtle’s Grand Strand, technically in North Carolina.
Myrtle Beach, of course, is Disneyland for golfers. The area features more than 90 golf courses including high-end designs by Robert Trent Jones Sr., Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. The area became a golf Mecca a century ago with courses sprouting up to cater to wealthy vacationers. But things really boomed in the 1960s as more upscale, high-profile courses opened.
The upside of having more than 90 courses in a relatively small area is obvious: there’s plenty of competition for your money. And that means value which, in today’s golf ecosystem, is hard to come by.
As mentioned, our Legends package deal for nine golfers totaled $570 per person. That included Wednesday through Monday accommodations in a three-bedroom, two-bath villa and four rounds of golf. In addition, each golf day included breakfast and lunch plus two drinks (soft drinks or beer) plus range balls.
That, as they say on the street, doesn’t suck.
During our stay, we played the three courses at the Legends proper plus the Heritage in Pawleys Island. Thanks to the deal, we decided to splurge a little on a bonus round at the Mike Strantz-designed True Blue, also in Pawleys Island.
The Legends: Three for the Money
The Legends facility dates back to 1990 with the opening of the Tom Doak-designed Heathland course. The P.B. Dye (Pete’s son) Moorland opened a year later while the Parkland course opened in 1992.
None of them stands out as the signature course of the property but each has its own personality. Parkland is the longest and demands you drive the ball straight. Moorland may be the most interesting while Heathland is the most wide-open. All three courses have been highly rated in the past and all are fun to play. They’re also showing their age.
But for $570, you really don’t expect pristine.
The Legends touts Heathland as a link-style course, only without the ocean. Mostly, it means there are no really tall trees. There are, however, mounded fairways and lots of pot bunkers surrounding the greens. While you won’t confuse it with anything you might find in Fife, you can play the Scottish ground game at Heathland. Virtually all of the holes allow you to bump and run up to the green if you’re in position. The only exception is the 14th where the green is fronted by water.
Heathland is one of Doak’s earliest designs. And seeing as how he went on to design Pacific Dunes in Bandon and the Blue at Streamsong, the course does have some street cred.
Parkland and Moorland: Contrasting Styles
Online reviews alternately call Parkland the easiest course at the Legends and the hardest. It’s a thinking person’s golf course that puts pressure on your approach game and your flatstick. The greens are surprisingly quick with more twists and turns than an episode of Law and Order.
The par-4 ninth hole is, I suppose, the “signature” hole. It’s 311 yards from the tips with fairway bunkers leading to a nasty, sloped and tiered elevated green. And when the pin is high right, as it almost always is, it’s a next-level challenge.
As mentioned, the Moorland is the most fascinating of the three courses. We played it in a steady rain but, even then, the course’s unique personality came through. While Parkland is routed through, in and around condos, the Moorland is almost exclusively in a world of its own, save for new condos that line holes 10, 11 and 15.
The front nine starts with a reasonable “How do you do?” par-4. But you get a taste of how P.B.’s daddy raised him on the par-5 second. It’s long and narrow with water and a waste bunker on the low right side and grass mounds on the high left side. After that comes a fascinating mix of holes including the 245-yard par-3 seventh and the 244-yard par-4 16th, known as Hell’s Half Acre. It features a narrow fairway to a small, elevated green with a monstrously deep bunker guarding the front left.
You’ll find wide, rolling fairways (except for the second) but you will have to think your way around Moorland. You’ll encounter several greens surrounded by water and large, sandy waste areas. And nearly all those greens are narrow, deep, contoured and multi-tiered.
Heritage is off-property, some 45 minutes south of the Legends campus in Pawleys Island on the southern end of Myrtle’s Grand Strand. I first played Heritage five years ago and didn’t like it very much. But yet another MyGolfSpy Experiences truism says that time can heal any broken relationship.
Heritage is classic South Carolina low country with 300-year-old southern pines, marshes and alligators. It opened in 1986 and was ranked in the Top 100 of America’s Public Golf Courses as recently as 2009. The Dan Maples/Larry Young design features wide-open fairways and good-sized, undulating greens. (I swear there isn’t a straight putt anywhere in South Carolina). You’ll have to think your way through Heritage which is probably why I didn’t like it the first time. Give it a chance. You will have a good time.
Highlights include the double fairway on the par-5 second. The left fairway is the short way home but it’s also the narrow way and the heavily bunkered approach way. The right fairway is the wider avenue but it’s longer. The greenside bunkers should be out of play but you do have to carry water. And not for nothing, but both fairways slope toward the water in the middle, so don’t get cute.
The par-3 13th requires a long poke over water to another skinny, well-bunkered and 50-yard-deep green with a massive hump in the middle. The right side of the green leaves you with an easier putt but that’s also where the water is.
The finishing hole is a terrific three-shot par-5 to a peninsula green. You have a wide landing area for your first two shots but the approach can be a bit of a sphincter clencher, especially if the pin is in front.
The Legends: Sleeps and Eats
The Legends package includes accommodations in the on-site condos. The three-bedroom, two-bath units sleep five comfortably with a queen bed in one of the bedrooms and two full-sized beds in the other two. Each unit also has a full kitchen, a living room and a washer-dryer. It wasn’t fancy but it was comfortable.
Most importantly, our unit was a 45-second walk to the Ailsa Pub.
The Ailsa is, as they say in Carolina, a hoot and a holler. At some point in its history, it was rated in the Top 50 of 19th Holes in America. Each evening Ailsa is filled with golfers – nearly all guys – enjoying the bonhomie of the golfing brotherhood. The food isn’t what you’d call haute cuisine, but it’s decent enough with good-size portions and plenty of adult beverages.
MyGolfSpy Experiences can highly recommend the shrimp and grits, the Ailsa meatloaf and the po’boy sandwich. On Friday night, Ailsa brings in a smoker for a ribs and chicken BBQ. For $27, you get a quarter chicken, a half rack of ribs, corn on the cob, lemony red potatoes and a delicious sausage and grits side. For dessert, there’s a smiley-face-inducing banana pudding.
The included breakfast and lunch are served at the main clubhouse. Breakfast is served buffet-style with scrambled eggs and all the usual sides: biscuits and gravy, bacon, sausage, home fries, pancakes and pastry. Lunch is served from a menu and features sandwiches, wings, pizza and salads. The fare ranges from average to edible but, then again, the price is right.
A MyGolfSpy Experiences Bonus Round: True Blue
Since we scored such a bargain with the Legends, we decided to splurge on a bonus round at True Blue. Located virtually next door to Heritage in Pawleys Island, True Blue and its sister course, the Caledonia Golf and Fish Club, were designed by Mike Strantz and opened in 1998. It’s a par-72 stretching over 7,100 yards with six sets of tee boxes.
True Blue features more elevation changes than you’ll find at any of the Legends courses. And while the fairways are plenty wide, the course is no cupcake. The green complexes are just that, complex, with healthy undulations and lots of really, really big bunkers.
The par-5 first hole gives you a clue of what’s to come. It’s long and lets you bomb away off the tee and with your second shot. You’ll need to focus on your approach however, as the – stop me if you’ve read this before – narrow, deep, multi-tiered green requires a carry over water.
That scenario repeats itself for 17 more holes: plenty of room off the tee but nerve-testing approaches. The green on the par-3 third is maybe 30 yards deep but only five yards wide in places with waste bunkers and water on either side. The par-3 16th requires a long shot over alligator-filled water and there’s precious little bail-out room. And the gorgeous 18th hole demands you be in the fairway and be aggressive on your approach. It’s a big green but it has enough undulations to make a three-putt actually feel like an accomplishment.
Compared to the Legends courses, True Blue has a decidedly upscale feel to it. Greens fees for a Friday morning were $153.
Why Is the Legends So Reasonably Priced?
MyGolfSpy Experiences loves a bargain as much as anyone but (yet another fact) you do get what you pay for.
If that’s the case, then why is the Legends so inexpensive? There are several reasons but the biggest one is competition. There are 90-plus courses in and around Myrtle Beach and each one of them is fighting for your golfing dollar. Additionally, the Legends, while nice, isn’t what you’d call luxury. The condos are roomy, convenient and comfortable. But fancy, they ain’t.
The carts are older, gas-powered models without GPS. And the cart paths are showing their age, ranging from bouncing to bumpy to crumbly. Given the amount of play these courses experience, course conditions are quite good. But if you’re looking for pristine, you won’t find it at the Legends.
And lastly, pace of play can be a problem. Aside from our rainy-day round (four-plus hours on an empty course, cart path only), five and a half hours was the norm.
MyGolfSpy Experiences Final Verdict: Thumbs Up for the Legends
There’s a big difference between a bucket list golf trip and a buddy golf trip. Pebble Beach, St Andrews, Whistling Straits – those are once-in-a-lifetime adventures you plan and save for. Buddy trips are as much about getting away with the gang as they are about golf and if that getaway doesn’t require special funding from the House Ways and Means Committee, all the better.
The price-value matrix has its limits. You can’t expect to play TPC Sawgrass for $50 or Pebble for $75. But I don’t care who you are, $570 for five nights, four rounds, breakfast, lunch, range balls and beer is a pretty sweet package.
Is there better golf in Myrtle Beach? Absolutely (True Blue, for one). But you’d be hard-pressed to find something that scores higher on the price-value matrix than the Legends.
Have you played the Legends? MyGolfSpy Experiences wants to know what you thought, and what other courses you’ve played in Myrtle Beach.