South Carolina, led by the Myrtle Beach area, is the top golf destination in the United States in 2023, according to one travel organization.
The International Association of Golf Travel Operators (IAGTO) has named South Carolina the top golf destination in the U.S. and Canada, and one of the top five golf destinations in the world for 2023.
The Palmetto State is the lone U.S. representative on the annual global list, sharing the recognition with Cyprus, Dubai, Los Cabos (Mexico), and Thailand.
The IAGTO Awards are in their 22nd year and were created to celebrate outstanding service, performance, and quality throughout the global golf tourism industry. The honorees were selected after more than 500 golf tour operators from around the world voted for the destinations that delivered the best golf experiences to their customers in 2022.
South Carolina has more than 350 golf courses, with Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Columbia and the Upstate all featuring enough courses to make them destinations within the state.
The Myrtle Beach market has nearly 90 courses in Horry, Georgetown and Brunswick (N.C.) counties.
“It’s fantastic. It’s a great honor,” said Tracy Conner, executive director of the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association. “It’s a complete destination. We’re not just a destination with a few golf courses and a bar. We’re a complete destination with a variety of activities for the traveling golfer. Myrtle Beach specifically, we’ve got a lot to offer.”
South Carolina annually hosts the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island, which is being held this week, and the Korn Ferry Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation in Greenville.
In recent years, South Carolina has hosted the 2021 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort, the PGA Tour’s 2021 Palmetto Championship at Congaree (which replaced the canceled RBC Canadian Open on the PGA Tour) and THE CJ CUP at Congaree.
The PGA Tour is also in talks with Myrtle Beach officials about bringing a tournament to the Grand Strand as early as next year.
Golf had an estimated $3.3 billion impact on the state’s economy in 2021, according to the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism – contributing to 38,000 jobs and $18.3 million in admissions tax collections that year.
Golf generates more income than any other single entertainment or recreation activity in South Carolina, and visiting golfers spent an additional $1.1 billion off-course in 2021, according to SCPRT.
The IAGTO was established in 1997 and has 2,400 members encompassing many sectors of the industry including golf tour operators, receptive operators, tourist boards, golf resorts, hotels, golf courses, and airlines. The awards are meant to reward golf destinations and golf tourism suppliers that deliver outstanding experiences to golf travelers.
Barstool chooses Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach has been named the official “Buddies Trip” of the Barstool Classic, one of the game’s leading amateur tournament series.
The Barstool Classic began its 25-event schedule at True Blue Golf Club on March 6. The one-day tournaments are being played in 18 states and Toronto, Canada, with courses including The Greenbrier, TPC Boston and Grand Traverse Resort joining True Blue as hosts in 2023.
As the official “Buddies Trip” of the Barstool Classic, PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com, a golf trip planning resource, will have activation opportunities at every event. The winner of the closest to pin contest at each tournament will also receive free entry into 40th Annual World Amateur Handicap Championship, a 72-hole, net stroke play event that annually attracts more than 3,000 players from across the globe.
Additionally, one “Stoolie” will win a free trip to Myrtle Beach. Visit www.ForePlayMyrtleBeach.com for more information or to enter.