By Alex Myers, originally posted on GolfDigest.com.
This summer will mark the 24th time I’ve played in the HGGA Championship, AKA my annual buddies trip. It’s a yearly tradition that dates back to my freshman year in college (yep, I’m that old) and has provided me with countless amazing memories—especially those five instances I’ve been fortunate enough to slip on our coveted green jacket, given to the winner of our weeklong competition.
That’s nearly a quarter century of these trips, which have taught me a lot about friendship and different destinations. To be clear, the company you keep is the most important aspect of these journeys, but I’d be lying if I said the venue doesn’t matter. And my group has been lucky enough to play and stay at some of the best golf resorts in the country from Pinehurst to Kiawah to my personal favorite, Sand Valley. Although, admittedly, I’ve still never been to Bandon Dunes. I know, I know, poor me.
Part of the reason for that is that our mostly New York-based group usually keeps things close to the east coast. When the existence of spouses and kids—things that weren’t even on my radar when I started going but were for our older members—dictate a five-day, four-night getaway, it’s tough to burn a lot of that time traveling. And we often like to alternate “big-ticket” destinations with places steeped in value, especially if we can get there by driving. To that end, I’ve made a list of five sneaky-good spots well worth visiting. Hopefully, we get (back) to all of these multiple times in the next quarter century.
Pawleys Island: OK, so this is basically Myrtle Beach, but you can stay in this area away from MB’s hustle and bustle (45 minutes south of Myrtle’s airport) and be completely satisfied. Not only have multiple HGGA Championships been held here, but this was even the site of my bachelor party. So, yes, there is some nightlife—and even a Hibachi steakhouse.
The anchors to this trip, however, are two Mike Strantz gems in Caledonia and True Blue (above), which are located across the street from each other. Throw in the Jack Nicklaus design Pawleys Plantation, which was recently renovated, and you’ve got a great Big Three to base a trip around.