Winter in Myrtle Beach: Golf, Sun and Family Fun

If you love winter golfing, an off-season getaway to South Carolina’s Grand Strand provides everything you need for an incredible vacation.

While the winter months bring snow and freezing temperatures to much of the United States, Myrtle Beach remains a temperate golf getaway. In fact, you’ll find so many courses there, you could play a new one each day for three months!

Nicknamed the “Pebble Beach of the East” and “America’s Golf Playground,” the Grand Strand is home to more than 100 public courses featuring ocean views, Spanish-moss-draped grand oak trees and abundant marsh grass. Golf legends like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones and Greg Norman have all designed golf courses here, with plenty of options for every level and style of golfer — even first-time golfers.

Beyond golf, there is so much to do in Myrtle Beach to keep all ages entertained, even in the winter. When my family lived in South Carolina, we looked forward to visiting the area at least once a year, knowing we could always count on a fun and affordable getaway.

Where to Play

First, you’ll want to decide which area in Myrtle Beach you’d like to play. During the busier summer months, I typically choose to head toward the quieter north Myrtle Beach area. But when you visit during the winter, there are fewer crowds and any side of the Strand is a good option.

The north side of Myrtle Beach offers top courses like the Long Bay Golf Club, Thistle Golf Club (in Sunset, North Carolina) and Tidewater Golf Club and Plantation. When we’re in this area, my family and I usually drive just a few miles further to Calabash, North Carolina, for lunch or dinner. We love the style of delicious breaded and fried shrimp unique to this small fishing village.

Then there’s the central Myrtle Beach area, which features the main stretch of beach, boardwalk and lots of attractions. Here you’ll discover several popular courses, including Grande Dunes, the Dunes Golf and Beach Club, Pine Lakes and King’s North Course at Myrtle Beach National.

Finally, the south end of Myrtle Beach is an ideal area for outdoorsy families. Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet and Litchfield Beach are natural wonderlands perfect for beach bike rides and peaceful strolls. At Pawleys Plantation, a Jack Nicklaus course showcases scenery ranging from 200-year-old moss-draped oaks to pine forests and salt marshes.

Quick Tip:

Less than two hours south of Myrtle Beach is the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina. Take a day trip to explore the historic district, beautiful harbor and Fort Sumter, which is where the Civil War began.

Fun for the Family

In Myrtle Beach it’s easy to make golf a family affair. Children play free at many area golf courses during the winter. To take advantage, kids must be 16 or younger and accompanied by at least one paying adult.

Myrtle Beach is also the “miniature golf capital of the world,” with approximately 50 mini-golf courses to choose from. My kids and I love exploring the different themed courses — some feature pirates, dinosaurs and even knights and dragons.

On cooler days, we head indoors and visit one of the many family-friendly Myrtle Beach attractions. At Ripley’s Aquarium, my kids love petting stingrays and walking through the large tunnel where sharks swim overhead. Another favorite destination is Broadway at the Beach — a huge entertainment complex with classic amusement rides relocated from the former beachside Pavilion in Myrtle Beach, as well as shopping, dining and WonderWorks, a fascinating interactive science museum.

More Tips for Visiting in Winter
  • Even though winter is the off-season, it’s a good idea to reserve your tee times in advance. Myrtle Beach generally boasts several 70-degree days sprinkled throughout the cooler season, and spots can fill quickly.
  • Although courses may be busy, you can still score a deal when visiting in winter. Tee times are cheapest during December and January, adding yet another incentive to visiting this already affordable destination.
  • To stay warm on cooler South Carolina days, dress in layers so you can shed clothing as the temperature rises. During winter and early spring, expect green fairways framed by golden brown rough, which creates a nice visual contrast. While the Bermuda grass is dormant during the winter season, it doesn’t negatively impact play.
  • Unlike other East Coast beach destinations, Myrtle Beach does not shut down in winter. While a few popular restaurants, water parks and some amusement parks do close during the low season, many of the Grand Strand’s top attractions and dining locations welcome visitors year-round, including Brookgreen Gardens, The Boardwalk and SkyWheel, Apache Pier, Alabama Theatre and Carolina Opry, and La Belle Amie Vineyard.

But the highlight, of course, is the golfing. The mix of lightly cool weather, sunny days, and gorgeous scenery make Myrtle Beach a memorable spot for a winter golf getaway.

Where to Stay:
Marriott’s OceanWatch at Grande Dunes