I recently stumbled across a list titled “2024’s Best Bachelor Party Destinations for Golfers.” I was eager to see where golfing meccas like Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island and Pinehurst ranked; I thought, for example, that combination golf and gambling resorts such as Turning Stone in upstate New York would provide everything a bachelor party weekend would need, all located in one place, no need for designated drivers or Uber. After all, bachelor parties typically run from just one night to a weekend, at most, and who wants to waste precious time in a van traveling back and forth to golf courses through city traffic?

Reunion15th holeReunion is one of many accessible golf coures in the Orlando area. Orlando ranked second on a list of cities most suitable for a bachelor party that involves golf.

Silly me. The Best Bachelor Party Destinations rankings is a list of the major cities in America, starting with Las Vegas and including Orlando, Houston, Los Angeles and San Diego (the top five of the 200 cities on the list). Myrtle Beach and Pinehurst are not even on the list of 200. You would be hard pressed to find accessible golf courses inside the boundaries of these sprawling cities – maybe a municipal course or two. Plus, unless the party planner and bachelor himself live near one of these cities, assessing the soon-to-be-groom’s friends the cost of airfare might seem a bit cheeky. And why would you want to bite into the weekend with the time it would take to fly roundtrip? That seems silly when there are plenty of notable golf resorts nationwide to do the trick. (A few of my suggestions below.)

You might assume that those who sponsor a ranking of bachelor party locations would be in the golf, travel or wedding business. Silly you; the sponsor of this dubious study is a company called Lawnstarter which, as the name suggests, provides residential and commercial lawn care services.  They should stick to their mowing.

It isn’t hard to conjure a list of golf destinations that would enhance a bachelor party weekend without time-consuming travel and wasteful trips through traffic to golf courses outside a major city. Here are just a few suggestions east of the Mississippi that, at worst, would require a short plane ride from some large population centers.

Turning Stone Resort, Verona, NY A huge casino, three top-50 golf courses (per Golf Digest), a golf superstore, luxury accommodations – in short, a one-stop bachelor party destination. And should you be forced to hold the party during winter, denying you access to the golf courses, a 17,000 square foot indoor practice facility with greens, bunkers and a 110-yard-long practice range is at your disposal. And with the facility’s simulators, you can celebrate the end of your bachelorhood by banging into a screen as many balls as you like. Distances: New York City, 4 hours; Buffalo, NY, 2 ½ hours; Albany, NY, 1 hour, 40 minutes.

LakeofIsleswithcasinohotelThe Foxwoods casino (left) and hotel are the only signs of civilization from the Lake of Isles golf course.

Foxwoods Casino & Resort, Mashantucket, CT The casino’s Lake of Isles course is a short, free van ride from the hotel and has made Golf magazine’s list of “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” (in the U.S.). Surrounded by hundreds of acres of undeveloped land, the only reminder of civilization while you are out on the course is the large Foxwoods hotel lurking in the distance. Another casino resort, Mohegan Sun, is just 10 minutes away and features its own golf course, open to the public. Distances: Hartford, CT, 1 hour; Stamford, CT, 1 hour, 40 minutes; New York City, 2 hours, 45 minutes; Boston, 1 hour, 40 minutes.

National Golf Club approachI played the sleek National Golf Club in Pinehurst a dozen years ago. The club was acquired by the Pinehurst group in 2014 and today is known as Pinehurst #9.

Pinehurst Resort, Pinehurst, NC With 10 golf courses in its portfolio and a well-oiled system of shepherding outside play onto most of them every day, Pinehurst is suited to the most serious golf-centric bachelor partygoers. All the courses are within a short distance of whatever hotel you choose, and there are enough good restaurants and bars to accommodate your dining and drinking needs. If time permits, travel the half hour from Pinehurst to Tobacco Road, Mike Strantz’s wild and strangely wonderful 18 holes. Distances: Charlotte, NC, 2 hours; Greensboro, NC, 1 hour, 15 minutes; Raleigh, NC, 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Grande Dunes 14th holeGrande Dunes is one of the most scenic of the 80 courses along the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach.The par 3 14th holes sits beside the Intracoastal Waterway.

Myrtle Beach, SC  Okay, Myrtle Beach is not exactly near a densely populated city, but it is reachable via-nonstop flights from major northeast cities. With 80 golf courses packed onto a 90-mile strip known as The Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach has been hosting buddy golf trips since the 1960s. It is set up perfectly for great golf and as much honky tonking in the town’s legendary local bars as you can handle. Flight times, airport to airport, all non-stop: Philadelphia, 1 hour, 43 minutes; New York, 2 hours; Boston, 2 hours, 20 minutes. (Note: Some of these flights are priced at less than $100 each way.)

 

A friend informed me this week that he has about $400,000 to spend for a golf-oriented home and is looking at the area north of Myrtle Beach over the state line in North Carolina. He has asked me for ideas, and I told him I would do some research. I have been surprised at what I’ve found.

Over the last two decades, Brunswick County, NC, located immediately north of North Myrtle beach, SC, has been one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. The area is home to sprawling golf course communities, some of them featuring as many as three golf courses inside their boundaries. Most of them have been traditionally among the most reasonably priced communities along the Grand Strand, which straddles Highway 17 from Georgetown, SC, to almost Wilmington, NC, a stretch of more than 100 miles. At its peak, the Strand was home to more than 125 golf courses, most of them attached to communities with a mix of single-family homes, townhouses and condos. Today, about a third of those golf courses are gone, most redeveloped for housing.

In the area my friend is looking, the lowest priced real estate is found in Brunswick Plantation, Crow Creek and Sea Trail, the oldest golf community in the area, founded in 1977. Crow Creek (opened in 2000) features a single 18-hole layout; Brunswick (opened in 1991) and Sea Trail offer 27 holes and 54 holes, respectively. All three are less than a 50-minute drive to the quite functional Myrtle Beach International Airport and less than 15 minutes to an Atlantic Ocean beach. Good local shopping has followed the increase in population density.


RiversEdgehousegreenducksRiver's Edge is one of the attractive golf communities north of the SC/NC border just off US Highway 17 that has seen shrinking inventories and higher prices. Currently, there is just one single-family home and one condo for sale in the community, at $565,000 and $259,000, respectively.

In short, these three golf communities and others nearby have what most retirees and vacationers are looking for – convenience, proximity to services and fine golf options. But they lack one important criterion – single-family homes priced below $400,000. Those have become as rare on the Grand Strand as the proverbial hens’ teeth. Brunswick Plantation offers the most, seven listings between $361,000 and $388,000. Crow Creek is showing just one such home, at $340,000 and on a lot barely larger than 1/10 acre. And at Sea Trail, only two single-family homes are currently for sale, starting at $612,000. The only 3-bedroom residences at Sea Trail are a couple of condos, with prices starting above $400,000.

The story is the same up and down the Grand Strand. That $400K mark is the new $300K from just before the pandemic, when folks fleeing the cities moved to the beach and the continuing flow of Baby Boomers gobbled up all available homes. Supply and demand drives prices, along with a dollop of location, location, location – and that is how we have gotten here from there.

That’s the bad news. But for those who don’t mind living next to their neighbor – as in one wall separating you from them -- there are plenty of condos for sale in these and other well organized golf communities in the Myrtle Beach area, starting in the $200s and $300s. And excellent golf is as convenient as it is for those in single-family homes down the street.

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