I guess it had to be done:
I was sitting back in the winter doldrums and realized that I hadn’t thought back on the golf trip to Myrtle Beach. Since I read about 3 golf memoir style books in the past year alone, I had better start putting the trip down on paper before the sands of time erode it from my memory.
The fact is, Road Trips that last over 10 hours each way can usually do 2 things to the participants. First, they can become the biggest mistake, one that is almost inescapable, causing each person to make it miserable as each tedious hour passes by, ending up with a very fractured friendship. Or second, it can become the best decision that you ever made. When this happens, its almost as if the bad things that happen are not really happening to you, since you are having too good a time to bother realizing that something adverse is taking place.
Spring Break 1988, I took a trip to Hunter Mountain in upstate NY with my buddies Skee, Tony and Eric and we had one of these types of experiences that should have been the big mistake, and yet somehow ended up being a memorable time. We had a beat up Chrysler K Car rental car with the Odomoeter disconnected (no telling how fast we went but it saved on mileage), I was driving, there were 3 distinct times during the trip where someone kicked the shifter out of “drive” causing the engine to smoke, the chalet that we stayed in looked like it was imported from Crystal Lake, complete with the “abandoned” room covered with musty sheets. This place had no lights whatsoever, we slept on the floor, the shower was tepid to cold, and it wasn’t even really all that close to the actual mountain. With all that said, we had an amazing time. I think that the four days officially took a turn for the classicly better when I looked at the boom-box that was in the living room and a copy of INXS’ Shabooh Shoobah was sitting in the tape player. We kicked that music on and the little haunted chalet took on the life of its occupants, and we were suddenly feeling much more welcome. We ate out at this little restaurant, and the food was great, but the waitress was very angry with us. I knew that it wasn’t us, but she must have had a bad night. Eric who also worked in restaurants decided to leave $.63 as a tip (I was appalled since I also worked in a restaurant and didn’t like the practice). Well, as we exited to the door, the waitress yelled after us, “Hey, you left this.” and she came over with the change, and Eric took it from her. She was obviously being sarcastic, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with it and she got nothing. It was just one of those trips. I will relay more on this one someday, but the reason I brought it up was that the trip for ROMP 1999 to Myrtle Beach was nothing short of amazing, and yet things seemed to want to get in our way…
The 15 hour journey to Myrtle Beach
We met in East Boston, after picking up Dave from the airport. We rented a white Chevrolet Astro, and it was quite comfortable. At one point Pat offered to use his beat up jalopy, but we all respectfully declined, given that we weren’t sure if it could make the trip, and we knew that we would only be able to fit our clubs, and one pair of underwear each into the trunk. We left on Saturday night on June 12th, 1999. We split up into driving teams and each team got 3 hours of driving followed by 3 hours of sleep. As our CD entertainment Dana Gould would have put it, MISTAKE! Luckily for everybody, David was still on West Coast time and ended up driving for about 6 hours before we went to sleep.
In retrospect, 3 hours on/off was not the right call, but driving for 3 hours, followed by navigation for 3, followed by 6 hours of rest would have most likely gotten everybody refreshed. Even during the off shifts it was difficult to sleep, Dana Gould’s Funhouse CD kept us laughing all the way through Virginia, and Pat had some quotes from Family Guy that filled in the rest. There were 15 minute periods where we were doing nothing more than laughing. It was infectous, once things settled down, someone would start laughing again and then we’d all erupt. After cycling through AC/DC Back in Black (a must for a road trip), Led Zepplin, and countless others, we got to South Carolina, and decided to turn on the radio. The woman DJ said that the drought in the area was now almost 3 months in duration, and that they were praying for rain. Most of the stations that we heard were very religious.
As we got to “The Grand Strand” a thin sliver of land with the most golf courses per square mile pretty much anywhere, all signs of being tired just evaporated and we were ready to hit the links. We had tried to get a bunch of courses to play beforehand but it was kind of difficult to follow it to the letter. But we hit the first one on the list, which was River Oaks. The first thing you notice here is that everyone is really nice, and every golf course has service right up front. You drive up, they take your bags and set you up.
It was about 85 degrees out there and the drought was in full force. Though the fairways were a bit on the dry side, they played well. I remember that the greens were in tough shape due to recent airation, but we got our first 18 in. Since this was an unscheduled round, we decided to make it a non-factor in our big competition. I shot a 94, and since I was coming off a really bad “hitch” of a swing over the paast year, I was feeling rather naked out here in competition.
The Sea Banks Motel
Right on the Grand Strand across the street from the ocean was this majestic beautiful motel. OK, it was a dump, but it had a good view. There were two rooms, and three double beds, meaning that someone was going to have to bunk up with another. I, of course, have sleep apnea which makes the earth rattle when I snore, so I got a bed to myself. There was a nice little pool, and te room had a kitchenette. I will go out on a limb and say that I don’t think I will ever rent a motel room that doesn’t have a kitchenette. Nothing makes you feel more at home than being able to put groceries in the kitchen. You can cook, have cold beverages and snacks. Its very nice. We saved a ton of money on the course (those hidden snack bar fees) by grabbing those 2 liter Gatorades and making our own little bottles out of it. We’d freeze one (for the PM round) and refrigerate the other. Just clutch if you are trying to work on a budget.
I am going to attempt to get some pictures from Nelly. There is an absolute classic of David and I trying to do a synchronized swimming routine. One night there was a party of about 30 high schoolers, and when we returned from a day of golf, we noticed that all of our deck furniture was broken. Apparently, they broke theirs and then swapped it with others. They did not get away with it.
Day 2: Heather Glen and Glen Dornoch
Heather Glen was spectacular. We had so much fun on this first official round. If I remember correctly, we were late for our tee time, but they paid no mind to it and got us off within minutes. There was a steamy mist coming off the ground and we all got going. Pat picked up a book telling us about the course, for strategies and yardages, something that I never used to pay attention to, but now I consider a “must-have”. Hole #2 got us going with its description of a bunker called the Devil’s Mistress, I guess its pretty famous. The bunker is in front of the green and about 8 feet deep. It actually has a ladder going down into it. We called it “Satan’ Bitch, and luckily nobody went into it, because it spelled out instant triple bogey.
Glen Dornoch was even prettier than Heather Glen, with some very unusual holes. It was right along a stretch of water of the Intracoastal Waterway. I had never heard of it, but it was pretty amazing to watch boats move up and down it. I wish I could tell you a lot about this particular round, but I remember being very very frustrated. I think my swing problems reall started coming out here. I had two rounds where I kind of got a rhythm going, but this round was just poor. I felt like I was recovering from a recovery shot. On hole 16, I had a terrible tee shot, followed by two unplayable provisionals. I was out of the hole, until Nelly found my first tee shot. So I decide to play the hole safe and layup in front of this nasty marshy burn, and I lay up, but the ball decides to hit something very hard and go flying. It kept going and going and going until it hopped right into the burn. So I picked up (mentally) and went to #17.
On 17, there was a chance for redemption, You can see by the picture, that this hole is nothing short of challening. The bunker guards the hole and these semi vertical planks guard the bunker from falling down. On the left hand side and behind the green is marsh and Intercoastal Waterway. I hit a pretty decent shot but it was heading right, and bounced off the plank, rolled across the green and into the water. Oddly enough, I just happened to take a look at the website of Geln Dornoch and it mentions my shot almost exactly. Good to know that there are others out there who have lost a ball or two from the planks.
I went to the white tees for my provisional, and I was stunned. The white tees were at a tougher angle than the blues. With the blues you were playing with the bunker on the right. With the whites, you had to come directly over the bunker. No pretty for me and my waning confidence. After two more ill-placed shots, I picked up and sat on the hill watching the guys play. They were in full smackdown laying mode and each of them had a tough putt. Pat kept trying to add the pressure to Dave and he sank his putt from about 20 feet. Nelly missed his birdie, but not by much, and Dave answered Pat’s challenge by sinking his birdie putt.
Hole #18 was the most memorable of the day. It was a 90 degree dogleg left, and between the tee and the green was Intercoastal Waterway and marsh. To the right was the fairway, and you could perhaps reach some fairway by cutting off some of the dogleg. Dave tee’d the ball up and aimed for the right side, or as Pat eagerly pointed out, “Chicken Alley”. He put his drive in the middle of Chicken Alley. I believe Pat also went the safe route. Nelly went for the gusto (would you expect anything less?) and cleared the trouble by a few feet, but if I remember correctly, nobody thought that he made it, and it took a fair amount of searching before the ball was recovered. I… took a mighty swing and added a ball to the Intercoastal Waterway. Then I dropped one up at Chicken Alley and played from there. To get a rehash of the scores, I will link you to the page that covers that. -Until next time,