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We’re all in a budget crunch right now and looking to save pennies whenever we can. The holiday season is upon us with gifts to buy, special meals to prepare and travel costs.
When family and friends arrive for the holidays or a winter vacation in the mid-South, we want to take them out to play golf. Maybe a grandson just got a new set of clubs for Christmas and now wants to try them out. Perhaps a daughter-in-law is taking golf lessons. Maybe you have a long-standing golf bet with your older brother from Minnesota.
For whatever reason, most of us will play golf during these cool weather months. Here are some tips about how to play golf on the cheap, plus a list of area courses and their rates, both for locals and out-of-towners.
Tip No. 1. Call ahead to check the rates. Some courses want you to book in advance; others will have a special rate for those who call 48 or 24 hours before the desired tee time.
Tip No. 2. Check your local paper or discount coupon book for special promotions and coupons. Many courses have special rates for the holidays.
Tip No. 3. Play in the afternoon. Most golf courses lower their rates at noon or 1 p.m., so play in the afternoon. It’s warmer and cheaper.
Tip No. 4. Join a discount golf group. The Grand Strand Seniors and Myrtle Beach Passport and other organizations provide discount rates for golfers. Besides a reduced rate for members, they also serve as clearing houses for unsold tee times. They will e-mail you discounts as they get them, allowing you to take advantage of lower rates. You may get the discount for your entire foursome whether they are members or not. (Grand Strand Seniors does this.)
Tip No. 5. Surf the Internet. Discounts are offered by companies that book golf packages. For example, Myrtle Beach Golf Master is offering a discount for all the “Big Cat” courses at Ocean Ridge. Nonresidents can play all four between Dec. 1 and Jan. 21 for $239. If you paid regular visitors rates, the cost would be $288. Also, check the Web site of the course you want to play. It may list discounts and special offers.
So shop carefully, join a golf discount group, keep your eye out for coupons, and you’ll pay less to play.
Here are rates for our area golf courses for the current period.
If a course offers an afternoon rate, please double check the changeover time. It’s noon at some courses and 1 p.m. at others.
Please note these are today’s prices and most will hold through the end of January, when rates go up as the peak golf season approaches. Prices quoted include cart and greens fees. Some courses require a Brunswick County residence to get a local rate; others broaden it to include New Hanover County to our north and Horry County in South Carolina. They will want to see a driver’s license for everyone in your group, so be prepared to prove where both you and your guests live.
Brick Landing. The current daily rate is $30 per person, for everyone, locals and out-of-towners alike.
Brierwood. Nonresidents pay $45 in the morning and $40 after noon. The local rate is $32 all day. After 2 p.m., those who wish to walk the course pay a $10 fee.
Brunswick Plantation. Out-of-towners pay $80 in the morning and $70 in the afternoon. For local residents, the rate is $45 with no afternoon discount.
Carolina National. The rate for nonresidents is $80 in the morning and $70 in the afternoon. Locals fare better with a $40 golf fee. From now until Dec. 15, Carolina National is running a special offer in conjunction with Toys for Tots. Bring in an unwrapped toy with a value of at least $10 and you play for $25.
Carolina Shores. The local rate is currently $33 all day. Outside folks pay $59 in the morning and $49 in the afternoon. Carolina Shores is a sister club to Palmetto Greens in Longs, S.C. A special rate of $60 gives you cart and greens fees at both courses.
Crow Creek. “We want to keep our locals happy and they are, because we have between 8,000 to 9,000 local rounds a year,” said Bryan Thomas, the general manager. Local rates at Crow Creek are $40 all year long. Outsiders currently pay $49, but that rate goes as high as $99 during the spring golf season. Please note, you can book the local rate no more than two days in advance.
Farmstead/Meadowlands. The current rate at Farmstead for out-of-towners is $79 in the morning and $59 in the afternoon. Locals can play for $39, no afternoon discounts. Meadowlands fees are $64 in the morning and $44 in the afternoon for nonresidents. Locals get a break with a $34 fee.
Lockwood Folly. The rate for nonresidents is $69 in the morning and $62 in the afternoon. Local rates are $40 in the morning and $30 in the afternoon.
The Lakes. One of our less pricey golf courses charges out-of-towners a rate of $38 in the morning and then at 1 p.m. the fee drops down to $26. Locals get a break also. Their morning rate is $28; after 1 p.m., the rate is $23.
Magnolia Greens. This course near Wilmington charges visitors $71 during the week. From Friday to Sunday, the rate goes up to $74. The local weekly rate is $42 and the weekend rate for locals is $47, Friday through Sunday.
Oak Island Club. Out-of-town folks pay $45 until noon, then the rate drops to $38. Local people pay $30 all day long.
Ocean Ridge. The “Home of the Big Cats” has varying rates, depending on whether you want to lash the Lion, tackle the Tiger, pounce on the Panther or leap on the Leopard. Outside rates include: Lion’s Paw—$53 a.m., $48 p.m.; Panther’s Run—$59 a.m., $54 p.m.; Tiger’s Eye—$81 all day; Leopard’s Chase—$95 all day. For locals, the rates are daily flat fees of $45 for Lion’s Paw, $45 for Panther’s Run, $60 for Tiger’s Eye and $95 for Leopard’s Chase. A holiday toy drive for Brunswick Family Assistance Agency allows golfers to bring a new toy at check-in and play Lion’s Paw for $38, Panther’s Run for $38, Tiger’s Eye for $50 and Leopard’s Chase for $65.
Olde Fort. The cheapest of all golf links in the area, locals and non-locals pay a flat fee of $20 during the week, with a special afternoon rate of $15. On the weekend, it goes up to $25 in the morning and $18 for the afternoon. Steve White, the owner of The Lakes and Olde Fort, calls himself the champion of cheap golf.
The Pearl. There are two courses, Pearl East and Pearl West. Visitors pay $61 in the morning and $48 in the afternoon for either course. Locals pay $45 all day for either course.
Rivers Edge. Out-of-town greens and cart fees are $70 for morning tee times and $50 for those willing to play after noon. Local rates are $45 in the morning and $39 in the afternoon.
Sandpiper Bay. Non-residents pay $54 in the morning and $45 in the afternoon. Right now, locals pay a flat fee of $36.25 all day.
Sea Trail. The Jones, Maples and Byrd Courses all have varying rates. Out-of-towners pay the following: Jones, $63 a.m. and $58 p.m.; Maples, $58 a.m. and $53 p.m.; Byrd, $53 a.m. and $48 p.m. Local rates are $58 for the Jones Course, $53 for the Maples Course and $48 for the Byrd Course. Sea Trail is hosting a special drive for the Brunswick County Food Bank that will run until Feb. 14. Donate three items of non-perishable food and they will let you play the Jones for $39, Maples for $35 and Byrd for $32.
St. James. The courses of St. James are no longer booking local play. You must be part of a group or on a package to play the Members, Founders, Players or Reserve Courses at St. James.
The Thistle. Out-of-towners pay a flat rate of $80; locals pay a flat rate of $50.
So, dear friends, make some phone calls and book your holiday tee times now. The weather is usually great in December on the Carolina Coast.
And, the price is right!
GOLF GAB GROANER
After trailing a particularly slow senior citizen for several holes, the younger man yelled, “Could you speed it up a little bit?”
The older man yelled back, “I’ll have you know that I was playing golf before you were born.”
“That’s great,” said the young golfer, “and I’d appreciate it if you’d try to finish this round before I die.”
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at email@example.com.