After an unseasonably cold winter, we were all counting the days until our annual golf trip. This guys’ getaway is a tradition that started about five years ago, when my son, Ryan, graduated from high school.
But this year’s trip was going to be a little different. Typically, we go to Myrtle Beach, a popular tourist destination along the South Carolina coast with dozens of golf courses and a bustling boardwalk.
While we’ve had plenty of good times at Myrtle Beach, this year we decided to escape the neon lights and crowds and head 20 miles south to the Hammock Coast, a scenic area made up of six eclectic communities that dot the coastline: Pawleys Island, Litchfield Beach, Murrells Inlet, Garden City, Andrews and Georgetown. Situated off Highway 17, otherwise known as Ocean Highway, it was the perfect laid-back spot to relax and enjoy some male-bonding adventures.
The fun got underway when we arrived at our weekend condo within Litchfield by the Sea, a gated oceanfront community with a host of amenities, including pools, tennis, and miles of hiking and biking trails. In addition to me and Ryan, there was also my father, Frank, and my uncle, Ray, who was particularly excited about the next four days.
“Guys, this is awesome! Check out the view,” Ray said, as he stepped onto our balcony and looked out over the glistening Atlantic Ocean.
After we settled in, we enjoyed a leisurely dinner and some adult beverages on the patio. After that, we all turned in. It had been a long day and we had plenty of adventures ahead of us.
I awoke the next morning to the delectable aroma of French toast and knew my father must be busy in the kitchen. He’s made French toast for breakfast for as long as I can remember, and he certainly didn’t disappoint this particular morning, adding bacon and grits.
Well rested and with full bellies, we didn’t waste any time getting our vacation underway. First stop: True Blue Golf Club, a par-72 course in Pawleys Island located on a former 19th-century indigo and rice plantation. The course landed on Golf Magazine’s 2019 list of Top 100 Resorts in North America for Buddies Trips, so this seemed the perfect course to try out first on our trip.
My Uncle Ray has always been the best golfer out of the four of us, something he likes to remind us of whenever we’re on the links.
“Oh man, would you look at that drive,” he exclaimed as he teed off at hole No. 1, his ball sailing about 200 yards before landing in the center of the fairway, setting him up for an easy par. “You know what? I think I’m going to like it here.”
It was a perfect day for golf, with sunny skies and temperatures hovering in the upper 70s. After we finished our 18 holes—true to form, Ray finished with the winning score—we indulged in a cocktail at True Blue's Grillroom, which overlooks the lake on the 18th hole.
We didn’t overindulge, because we had an early dinner planned at Quigley’s Pint and Plate, a popular restaurant and brewery with locations in Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet. Ryan and I each devoured a plate of chicken and waffles, while Ray ordered shrimp and grits and my dad went all out and got the Cajun ribeye with fried oysters.
“Wow, that was the best meal I’ve had in a long time,” Frank declared when he was done, pulling at the waist of his pants. “I’m stuffed.”
Before we left, we ordered some growlers to go, including a special seasonal brew from the in-house brewery.
Back at the resort, we ended the day with a sunset stroll along Litchfield Beach. As we ambled along, taking in the tranquil ocean and sandy shore, Ryan said what we were all thinking. “I’m so glad we decided to come here,” he said, “I feel like I can really unplug and relax.”
The next day we got things started with a hearty breakfast at Applewood House of Pancakes in Litchfield. While pancakes are obviously the main attraction, menu items also include giant four-egg omelets, waffles, frittatas and crepes.
Next up, another round of golf, this time at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club. Like True Blue Golf Club, Caledonia is also on the site of a former plantation, with towering live oaks draped in Spanish moss.
It was another great day on the links, and to everyone’s surprise, my dad finally ended Ray’s winning streak. “I guess the old saying is true, age and experience eventually win out over youth and exuberance,” Frank said, delighting in his victory over Ray.
After Caledonia, we headed back to the condo for a little downtime. For dinner, we decided to order takeout from Get Carried Away, which specializes in take-out Southern cuisine. We ordered the Lowcountry boil, a classic coastal dish with locally sourced shrimp, potatoes, corn, sausage and onions, all served up with just the right seasonings and sauce. We set up the feast on the balcony and washed it all down with the growlers we got the night before from Quigley’s.
The next morning, we went for another walk on the beach, just steps away from our condo. It was a relaxing yet invigorating way to start the day, which was once again filled with a bevy of fun adventures.
By the time we got back to the condo, our stomachs were growling. We headed to Dead Dog Saloon, about 10 minutes to the north in Murrells Inlet to get something to eat. The family restaurant has a great menu, and by the time we arrived, brunch was being served. We enjoyed omelets, eggs Benedict and even a delectable order of lobster home fries.
Following another delicious meal, we drove to nearby Murrells Inlet Fishing Charters and embarked on a half-day fishing excursion. The captain motored the boat through inshore and offshore waters teeming with flounder, trout, redfish, sea bass and even sharks.
Frank was the first one to land a fish—a big flounder that put up a good fight before being reeled in. That seemed to kick things off, and by the end of the trip we had a cooler full of fish. Ryan had the catch of a day—a fat red drum that weighed about 20 pounds. A framed picture of him proudly holding the fish with a giant grin on his face now sits on my desk at work.
To end the day, we had dinner at Wicked Tuna, a waterfront restaurant in Murrells Inlet. In addition to a wide variety of seafood, Wicked Tuna also has steaks, sandwiches and sushi. We splurged on delectable dishes including “The MarshWalk,” a 12-ounce ribeye paired with steamed king crab legs, as well as pan-seared flounder stuffed with spinach, crab meat and mushrooms. We also sampled some of the delicious cocktails, like the blood orange mojito, which is moonshine mixed with a raspberry mint soda muddled with fresh mint.
“Cheers to the best guys’ trip ever,” Ryan exclaimed, as we all clinked our glasses together. “I can’t wait to do this again next year.”
After two rounds of golf, a fishing excursion, walks on the beach and some unforgettable meals, it was time to head back home. For our final day in the condo, Frank once again made French toast for breakfast.
“You know, I meant what I said last night about wanting to come back here again next year,” Ryan said, as he gobbled his last bite of French toast.
“Count me in! This place is the best,” Ray agreed.
I couldn’t have been more thrilled. As we pulled away from our condo, the car packed full of luggage, I was already making mental notes about all the things we could do on our return to the Hammock Coast, our favorite new vacation destination.