Tag Archives: Myrtle Beach

Americana: Miniature Golf

Mount Atlanticus in Myrtle Beach. Uploaded by jimvid.smugmug.com.

Mount Atlanticus in Myrtle Beach. Uploaded by jimvid.smugmug.com.

Somehow I managed to wait a week after returning from Myrtle Beach to honor miniature golf as a Great American Thing. I waited in sympathy for my wife, who thinks every year that she’ll finally beat me. She’s like Charlie Brown, thinking that this time Lucy won’t jerk the football away before he kicks.

“You’re so cruel,” she said as I read her the preceding paragraph. Just being a reporter, honey. Fair and balanced and all that.

No less an authority than the US ProMiniGolf Association (yes, the USPMGA) proclaims Myrtle Beach as the miniature golf capital of the world. According to its Convention and Visitors Bureau, it has more than 50 courses. But this isn’t about MB, it’s about m.g.

Jungle Lagoon in Myrtle Beach. Uploaded by jimvid.smugmug.com.

Jungle Lagoon in Myrtle Beach. Uploaded by jimvid.smugmug.com.

If the game you remember had the motorized windmill, you probably still have a rotary phone. Today’s miniature golf courses have elaborate, Disneyesque themes – crashed airplanes, jungle safaris, pirate adventures. They have tunnels, cable cars, train rides – a full multisensory experience.

But one thing hasn’t changed, probably since the first miniature “Tom Thumb” courses were developed in the 1920s. And that’s the miniature pencil. If you take one home, you can use them for other things, such as…uh… Huh.

Food: Calabash Seafood

Dockside, my favorite Calabash restaurant. Uploaded to Flickr by b alasdair2.

Dockside, my favorite Calabash restaurant. Uploaded to Flickr by b alasdair2.

First, a little history for those unfamiliar with today’s topic. There’s a little town in North Carolina, barely above the South Carolina border, called Calabash. Fishing boats bring their daily catch to the docks, and over the years a number of restaurants cropped up to prepare it. Lightly breaded, and fried. With hushpuppies. Mmmm, history.

This town of 957 people has at least a dozen seafood restaurants, not to mention pizza joints, sports bars, and pancake houses. Most of the restaurants are filled by visitors to nearby Myrtle Beach, and you can see a steady stream of cars heading up the highway each evening, past the strip malls, the ice cream shops, and the miniature golf courses.

Lightly breaded and fried, that's Calabash seafood. Uploaded by roadfood.com.

Lightly breaded and fried, that's Calabash seafood. Uploaded by roadfood.com.

Which Calabash restaurant offers the best food is a contentious discussion. Some folks prefer Ella’s, one of the oldest of the Calabash establishments. Some rave about the smallish Seafood Hut. My choice, which I have to admit is mostly a family tradition, is Dockside which, as its name reveals, is the closest to the docks. Doesn’t mean it has any fresher shrimp than anyone else, but I will state unequivocally that it has the finest hushpuppies.

Calabash seafood isn’t just about one town, though. It’s on menus throughout the Carolinas. There is, however, a distinct difference between the freshness of the food in Calabash and in some of the “Calabash-style” mega-buffets in Myrtle Beach. Go there if you like choice, but don’t deceive yourself into thinking you’re having genuine Calabash seafood. For that, you’ll need to make the drive about 20 miles to the north.