I realized I hadn’t taken a vacation day since January 25th, so when my buddy Dominic suggested a short, 5-day golf trip post-vaccine in early May, I was keen to take three days off, and get out of town to re-acquaint myself with my Taylormade P790 irons.
We planned the trip in about 10 minutes once we decided on the date and location (Myrtle Beach, SC was selected based on my small amount of knowledge that it was a solid golf destination). We booked our flights, accommodations, and I immediately began researching golf courses and vegan restaurants with only a couple weeks to spare before we would arrive!
Based on extremely cheap and direct flights, we flew Spirit (read: Covid) Airlines. I logged off at 3pm on Wednesday, took a cab to Newark and was in Myrtle Beach by 6:30pm - the magic of airplanes!
Having arrived a few hours earlier (Two Spirit airlines flights landing safely in the same day?!?!) Dom picked me up from the airport in our rental car, and here’s where I became ultra-confident that it was going to be an epic trip. Dom and I constantly joke about airline/hotel status, either from my consulting gig or through his boss’ travels, but one thing Dom has a huge leg up on me with, is rental car status!
His Hertz baller-ness upgraded our Mazda to a tasty-looking Ford Mustang for the week. If we weren’t actuaries with significant others, wearing collared golf shirts and driving from one country club to another all week, maybe we could have leveraged the car for something cool. Either way, it was a nice ride.
After dropping our stuff at the Airbnb - we rented a nice condo with a beautiful kitchen, balcony, and all the amenities, none of which we used - we headed to the main drag along the beach.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is definitely a tourist destination of the south. They boast over 60 miles of sandy beach along the Atlantic Ocean and more than 90 golf courses in the area, but it attracts a funny combination of visitors. The main drag is tacky - think Niagara Falls or Times Square - littered with every American chain restaurant you can think of, and some high rise hotels along the ocean. I do have to admit, we had some beers along the water the first night, and you can’t beat that ocean view, but for the most part there were too many families looking for a cheap vacation and too few cool spots. Myrtle is also known as a big spring break destination for American college kids. It wasn’t spring break while we were there, but you could envision how the strip would be flooded with parties during the right time (I know, I was young once, too).
A funny thing we found out once we arrived was that our trip coincided with Biker Week, so as we drove down Rt. 17, we were constantly surrounded by extremely loud Harley engines. Fortunately, there appears to be very little overlap between grown adults who stitch Boy scout-like patches to leather vests to ride motorcycles and golfers, so the courses weren’t too busy. This allowed us time to sneak beers onto the course, and really just enjoy our time.
Another cool thing about Myrtle that I learned, was that about 2 miles in-land from the ocean, ran the Intercoastal Waterway. This is basically a river for non-commercial boats to travel on, that follows the coastline all the way from Boston to Miami. It’s essentially the I-95 for boats. The condo/golf complex we were staying on backed onto the waterway and it produced some incredible sunsets and views.
Once we realized there weren’t many nice restaurants or attractions to see, we didn’t spend much more time down at the beach. Part of this was because we had zero time - we ended up playing 7 rounds in 5 days! We planned for 5 in 5, but after our first morning round, we kind of said “well, what are we going to do all afternoon? Emergency 18!” We called the course we were staying on, and were teeing off an hour later.
We did the same thing on our third day, having secured an afternoon tee time at TPC Myrtle Beach, we realized our morning was wide open so we booked another emergency 18 and teed off for a warm-up 18 at 7:56am.
The golf was fantastic. Of the seven rounds we played, I would rate 2 of the courses as Awesome (TPC Myrtle Beach & Norman Course at Barefoot Resort), 3 of the courses as Very Good, and 2 of the courses as Good. We also had perfect weather the entire time, between 22 and 27C and very little wind. Unfortunately this didn’t translate to low scores, but it did make for a ton of fun, riding around in golf carts, hitting the odd impressive shot and striving for birdies.
We achieved a pathetic 3 birdies between the two of us (ouch), filmed a ton of content, and had countless laughs on the course. Sometimes those laughs were at the expense of the folks we were paired up with - Ken from Canton, OH; Mike and Jocelyn from DC; or two unnamed North Carolinians who legitimately suggested we drive 4 hours to an Atlanta gentlemen’s club when we casually asked for restaurant recommendations in the area.
A few keys that made this trip absolutely fantastic:
I fully disconnected. Credit to Dom for motivating me here with his constant judgement if I would consider looking at anything work-related, but I turned off email notifications on my phone and didn’t once open the email app. It was a good reminder to tell your team to text you if there’s anything urgent and let them know you won’t be checking email. I did this, and whaddayaknow - zero texts from work.
It was a golf trip. Other than eating out every single meal, this trip, and the majority of the conversations during it, was focused on golf. We would play 36 holes, drive to the condo to shower and change, then go to dinner and recap our 36 holes over a beer and meal while previewing the next day’s course(s).
It was sustainably tiring. My normal golf trip with the Winnipeg crew is jam-packed with golf, gambling, partying, swimming, late nights, and everything in between. When returning home, I need a vacation from my vacation. Not to say that’s any less fun, but it was nice returning to NYC feeling like I got a nice break from work without a week long hangover! Dom and I had a blast, but still slept well each night.
I returned to a 4-day week. It can be daunting having a full week of work ahead, so instead we played our last round Monday morning in Myrtle and then flew back. I was back in NYC by 6pm and knew I could handle logging in on Tuesday and crushing the short week.
Low maintenance. None of my friends are high maintenance but because it was just the two of us, we could plan the trip and make changes on a whim without having to consult a big group. This was perfect for a short, 4 night trip.
Covid doesn’t exist in the south. We were both fully vaccinated, and were spending basically all of our time outdoors, but it was clear that South Carolina never cared about Covid, or at least not in the last few months. This made it very entertaining for us having both come from the northeast, and knowing what all of my friends and family have been dealing with as far as lockdowns in Canada.
This really opened my eyes to how powerful taking 3 days off from work and meeting up with a buddy can be in providing the exact break I need. It also reinforced how much I love playing and thinking about golf. Can’t wait for the next one.
Thanks for reading,
For reference, below are the courses we played: