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Need Help Planning an April Golf Trip

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A buddy and myself are looking to spend 3 days golfing during the last week of April. We plan on using Sunday 4/25 as a travel day and playing as much golf as we can on 4/26 and 4/27 before heading out after a morning 18 on 4/28. Our budget is $500 for hotel + golf. We don't get to play a lot of golf these days so we'd like to make this a memorable trip. Looking to find out where we can get the best bang for our buck. We're from Cleveland, OH, so places within 12 hours driving distance are preferable. I suppose we could fly somewhere and play some golf too, but we're a couple years removed from being able to rent a car without the extra fees.

I've been lurking around this forum doing some research. Here are some places I'm considering:

1.) RTJ Trail in Alabama.

This is our first choice, but with $64 greens fees (tack on $16 for carts), we'd have a hard time squeezing in 4 rounds and staying within our budget. Are there other good value public courses in Alabama that we should consider? Maybe instead of playing solely RTJ coures we can mix it up to save a bit?

2.) Myrtle Beach

I know Myrtle Beach is this golf mecca. I've never been there before, but I've heard mixed reviews. It seems like there are some good tracks and others that are really run down. Looking at websites online, the area just screams "tourist-trap" to me for some reason. That and I just get the feeling that it will be awfully crowded and I'll have to put up with 5 hour rounds, especially since we're traveling during peak season. I'd prefer somewhere quiet and scenic; however, with so many top ranked public courses in one area I can't ignore it. Seems like the best values would come with staying for an extended period (as in 3 nights or more). On the positive side, unlike RTJ the course density is greater which would minimize drive time and money spent on gas. Thoughts?

3.) Pinhurst/Sandhills

Home of golf and all, but outside of the Pinehurst Resort courses and Pine Hills, how are the other courses? It seems like I can get a 3 night 4 round package for 350 or so, which would be perfect. However, this obviously won't include the ritzy courses. Which courses here provide the best value? I like the fact that it's a historic area and it offers some tranquility and great scenery.

4.) Santee, SC

Seems like there are some solid courses here for very cheap. Would any of these courses be memorable, or is this merely a destination where one goes for quantity over quality? I would hate to drive for over 10 hours only to play tracks that I can play here in NE Ohio in the summer.

5.) Williamsburg, VA

Looks like there are some nice courses here. One of the nice things about VA is it is closer to home. It is a bit further north than the other areas I'm considering so I'm not sure if weather will be an issue (seems like averages during April are in the low 70s so I'm guessing not). Any experience with golf in this area?

So, if you had $500 dollars to spend on golf + lodging in late April and you were looking to get in at least 4 rounds of golf over a 3 day period where would you go?

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It will be difficult to play 5 rounds with carts and hotel and keep it under $500 at any of the places you've listed and end up playing tracks better than what you can play in Ohio. Here are a few suggestions for five great rounds and lodging and possibly stay within budget. You can price them and then decide which best fits your needs.

1. RTJ Trail - I'd stay at Capitol Hill in Pratville, about a 12 hour drive from Cleveland. There are three courses and lodging on-site, the Judge, the Senator and the Legislator . I'd play the Legislator and the Senator your first day and the Judge your last day, as it is the best pof these three excellent courses. On your middle day I'd play the courses at Cambrian Ridge which is about 40 minutes South of Prattville. Cambrian Ridge has 27 Championship Holes and a par 3 course. These are among the best courses on the RTJ trail.

2. Myrtle Beach - About 11 hour drive from Cleveland - Don't let the "touristy" reputation of MB deter you. I've played more than 500 courses in the US, UK and Canada and MB has some excellent courses. The problem for you is that April is peak season and can be expensive to play the best ones. You may be able to stay on budget by playing copurses that are operated by the same company. The Legends group is currently running some great deals. They have five top notch courses; Moorland, Parkland, Heathland, Heritage and Oyster Bay and they have nice condos on site as well as an excellent practice area and clubhouse. They have been running deals that include breakfast, lunch and two beers each day. I think this is a great "bang for the buck".

3. Pinehills/Sandhills - about 9 hours from Cleveland - This may be more expensive than the others for comaparable courses. The courses at Pinhurst Resort will blow your budget by a lot. These may too, but you should check out, Pine Needles, Mid-Pines, Southern Pines, Tot Hill Farm and Tobbaco Road.

4. Willimasburg - about 9 hours from Cleveland - The best courses in Willimasburg will blow your budget. However, you can play courses in Virginia on your drive to and from Willimasburg. You should look into the following courses: Stonewall, Augustine, Cannon Ridge, Hunting Hawk, Independence, Royal New Kent and the Golden Horseshoe Gold Course at Colonial Williamsburg. The Gold course is expensive, but worth it. Any five of these are memorable, but they are not all close together so will require some driving, but if you do one on the way in and one on the way out you can map it out to work.

5 - Never played in Santee.

Any of the courses listed will be memorable. I have a feeling the Legends courses at MB will be the most convenient and best value. Post what you decide and report after you play.

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One thing I noticed about Myrtle Beach is they don't let you walk.

I've been able to walk on most of the Southern Pines and RTJ Trail courses. Most people take carts everywhere you go, but it's nice to have the option to walk after sitting in a car for a long time.

Another thing I like about Southern Pines is the area is not as overdeveloped and courses are pretty close together unless you're going to Tobacco or Tot.

That said, MB has the best selection, but for a short trip, SP will be more than enough.

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Check into the Legends in MB.

For your time period you can get a 3 night 3 round package, with breakfast, lunch and 2 beers, cart ,taxes for $390. Not sure of the replay rate at that time of year but I would think no more than $50 or $60. You can stay on the Legends property and if you play the 3 Legends courses you will have no travel time. That area is also not in the tourist trap area you are worried about.

The Glens Group [Glen Dornoch (very nice), Heather Glen (27 holes and underrated IMO), Shaftesbury Glen (always in top condition), Possum Trot (avoid) ] is also offering a good deal.
3 nights/ 3 rounds/ 3 free replays for $438 all in.

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Well, we just got back from our golf trip. Thank you to everyone who posted. Special thanks to Sabram.

We ended up doing RTJ because we felt that it would offer a greater diversity of courses (i.e. elevation changes, scenery, layout) than what Myrtle Beach would offer. We also wanted to experience golf in a more secluded location. RTJ fit the bill.

While we originally wanted to do 5 courses, we ended up doing 4 courses + a 9 hole short course for under $250. Following Sabram's advice, we made Prattville our base for the trip. We drove down on Sunday, and played our first 27 at Cambrian Ridge (18 Canyon/Sherling, 9 on the short course) starting Monday afternoon. On Tuesday we played the Judge in the morning, and The Legislator in the afternoon. On Wednesday we played The Senator before hitting the road back to Cleveland.

The golf was very memorable, the trip was a blast. We will be sure to do it again--maybe with more people next time.

Some thoughts regarding the golf:

Cambrian Ridge
My favorite 18 was at Cambrian Ridge. I loved the elevation changes, the layout, and the fact that it is in a very secluded location. We played the tips which proved to be extremely difficult, but still enjoyable. What made the day challenging was the 30 mph wind gusts that we had to battle. If you do get out to Cambrian Ridge, do check out the 9 hole short course. It offers an excellent array of par 3s for a great price ($9 if you play 18 the same day).

The Judge
The Judge is a beast. We ended up playing the Oranges which proved to be plenty long and difficult for us (12 handicap). Honestly, apart from the a few of the par 3s and the first hole, none of the other holes "wowed" me. All in all, it was very good golf. It reminded me a lot of Florida golf, but excessively penal IMO.

The Legislator
This course was tons of fun to play. The two 9s are like night and day. The front nine is more open while the back 9 offers serious elevation changes and plays much tighter. Of all the courses we played, I probably had the most fun playing this one.

The Senator
A great links style course. Lots of fun. It's the type of course where you can really get away with spraying the ball off the tee (within reason that is). Definitely not as penal as the other RTJ courses we played.

If anyone does decide to head down to Pratville, I recommend staying at the Jameson Inn if you're looking for a great value hotel. It is much cheaper than the lodging on site. While not as luxurious I"m sure, it is clean and offers the essentials. We were able to do golf + lodging for under $450/person. Excellent value. Also, to any fellow northerners heading down south for golf: the 70 mph speed limit is wonderful, but do watch out for unmarked police vehicles. A radar detector comes in handy.

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You made my day with your detailed trip report. I'm glad you had a great trip. You played some excellent courses. I especially love Cambrian Ridge. Also great pix! Thanks for posting. They brought back memories of my own trip to the trail.

PS my Mom's family is from Cleveland and I spent all of my vacations there when I was growing up.

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Hey guys,

I know this is too late now but me and my friends booked a Doral trip with My Golf Concierge back in June, they literally do everything for you so all you have to do is turn up. Plus it was really cheap! Check them out next time you are planning a trip :)



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