U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR FOUR-BALL
Get to Know Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand May 26, 2017 | MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. By David Chmiel, USGA

The 2nd Avenue Pier is one of many scenic landmarks in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the area known as the Grand Strand. (Courtesy secondavenuepier.com)

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The 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is the 17th USGA championship conducted in the Palmetto State. The Dunes Club hosted the 1962 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Murle Lindstrom, and the 1977 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, won by Dorothy Porter. The course, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones and recently updated by his son Rees was one of the first built along the coastal region known as the Grand Strand, which now boasts more than 125 golf courses.

Here is a quick primer for those unfamiliar with the area:

THE FAMILY TREE The area’s first inhabitants were the Waccamaw and Winyah tribes of Native Americans, who named the region Chicora, meaning “the land.” Eventually, the town was called Myrtle Beach, in honor of the “Crape Myrtle” or “Sweet Myrtle” trees native to the area.

WHAT’S THE GRAND STRAND? Myrtle Beach was incorporated as a town in 1937. About a decade later, Myrtle Beach Sun newspaper columnist Claude Dunnagan coined the term to describe the 60-mile stretch from Little River, a fishing village on the North Carolina border, to Georgetown. The wide beaches and rolling surf make it a perfect place to relax before or after golf.

WHO’S HERE? While Myrtle Beach’s population jumps from 30,000 in the winter months to more than 350,000 in the summer, the region gets visits from 14 million people each year. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has launched its “Myrtle Beach 2020” campaign to claim a target of 20 million annual visitors by 2020.

WOULD YOU CARE TO DANCE? The “Shag,” an offshoot of the Lindy or Jitterbug, is South Carolina’s state dance. The shag soundtrack ranges from Motown classics to bands such as The Tams and The Embers. Fat Harold’s Beach Club on Ocean Drive in North Myrtle Beach is the epicenter of the shag movement, hosting the SOS Spring Safari Convention each April, drawing thousands of dancers from all over the U.S.

TAKE A SPIN The SkyWheel is a 187-foot tall Ferris wheel that opened in 2011 in Myrtle Beach. The glass-enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas fit four to six people and give you the chance to see vast stretches of the Grand Strand, the Atlantic Ocean and many of the golf courses where you will be playing on your visit.

CULINARY QUIRK Boiled peanuts are the official state snack food, offered at roadside produce stands and in markets. They are just as they sound, peanuts that were soaked in water that are available from May through November. These aren’t your ballpark peanuts, but worth a try.

CULINARY GEMS From warm-water lobsters to the Lowcountry boil (a combination of shrimp, red potatoes and andouille sausage over rice) to chicken bog (chicken, andouille sausage and rice), and the local mustard-based barbecue, Lowcountry cooking provides a little bit of spice and the feel that you need a sweet tea and sand between your toes.

WALK THIS WAY With more than 1,400 restaurants in the region, you can get a variety of traditional regional fare. Take advantage of oceanfront dining options, especially the Murrells Inlet MarshWalk, a collection of restaurants that make it easy to go tablehopping to sample the local cuisine – and scenery.

HAVE A BALL With nearly 150 golf courses – 13 of which are listed among the various “top 100” lists – nearly 4,000,000 rounds are played on the Grand Strand courses each year. If the challenging layouts prove to be too much, you can tackle the nearly 50 miniature-golf facilities. Need a break from the little white ball? Check out the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Chicago Cubs’ High Class A Minor League Baseball team.

David Chmiel is manager of member content for the USGA. Email him at dchmiel@usga.org

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