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PopStroke Comes to Myrtle Beach

  By  Kathryn Hedgepath
pop stroke aeriel

The Tiger Woods Backed Attraction is The First in South Carolina

The legacy of miniature golf continues in Myrtle Beach with the newly opened PopStroke.  It takes everything that the area is known for other than the beach: golf, mini golf, good food, and family fun; and makes it their own with technology that catapults putt putt to the next level. 

It is a gorgeous open-air facility located at Broadway at the Beach.  It has two 18-hole miniature golf courses, the ultimate sports bar with large screen TVs and a Jumbotron.  It also features a craft beer garden in addition to a family restaurant with an irresistible ice cream parlor.  There’s even additional fun for the kids with a playground with that cushy surface that puts a spring in your step when you walk across it.  Older folks may enjoy the foosball, ping pong and corn hole. 

pop stroke course

A key to maximizing your experience there is downloading their app. Once you have that, it allows you to do three significant things that you may be able to access at nicer traditional courses but rarely on the miniature kind.  First, you have a virtual scorecard to track your group’s success and you can display those scores on the giant leaderboard.  Then, if you’re thirsty, use the app to have a frosty cocktail or craft beer delivered to you on the course.  Finally, the more money you spend, the more PopBucks you accrue. You get a $10 credit on your account for every one hundred PopBucks you earn.

Another way these putt putt courses resemble traditional ones as opposed to miniature ones is in the design of them itself.  With a few exceptions, you can’t have a Myrtle Beach mini golf course without a mountain, waterfall, cave system and a theme.  Putt putt is fun, but along the Grand Strand it exists on a higher plain…literally.  You will climb steps, enter caves, and fish your ball out of the whirling waters of a waterfall if you miss your mark on the green.  Fortunately, grates are hidden within the tidal pools and your ball doesn’t get washed away entirely midway through your game. 

But you aren’t just on a miniaturized golf course, you find yourself in a narrative.  Each hole that you conquer allows you to progress through whatever storyline your course offers.  It can be something familiar like the tale of Peter Pan or fairly generic like a jungle or lagoon course, or something fabricated in great detail for your particular experience.

At PopStroke, it really is like you are playing on a miniaturized golf course. As they describe it, they incorporate “fairways, bunkers, and rough just as you would see on a traditional golf course. Using only a putter, this unique golf experience can be played by anyone - no matter their age, ability, or whether they’ve ever held a club before…

PopStroke Entertainment Group, the leading mini golf and entertainment brand, is excited to announce the opening of its eleventh location in Myrtle Beach…This location marks the first venue in The Palmetto State.”  Other states where they are currently found are Florida, Texas, Arizona and Alabama.  Their Las Vegas location opens in April of 2024. 

Part of their nationwide success is due to their strategic partnerships with two of the biggest names in American golf, TaylorMade and Tiger Woods.  PopStroke touts that “TaylorMade Golf is a leading manufacturer of high-performance golf equipment, golf balls and accessories. TaylorMade has a history of innovative industry-leading products…A major force across the world's professional tours, TaylorMade has an unrivaled athlete portfolio.” 

Those golf stars include our own Coastal Carolina University golf team alumnus, Dustin Johnson.  He is a member of the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame which makes its home at our first course, Pine Lakes International Country Club.  And he’s the founder of the Dustin Johnson Golf School here on the Grand Strand. 

Another noteworthy player in TaylorMade’s portfolio is PopStroke’s other partner, Tiger Woods.  They describe him as a “15-time major champion and 82-time winner on the PGA Tour…one of the most accomplished athletes of our time.”

But this is not the first time Tiger Woods has invested in a Myrtle Beach restaurant.  Back in the 90s, there were two celebrity-themed eateries that were on Bypass 17 at 29th Avenue North but are no longer there.  They were Planet Hollywood and The Official All-Star Café which each had celebrity investors.  The draw was that, if you ate there, you might see one of the investors.   Planet Hollywood had movie stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. And, appropriately, The Official All-Star Café had sports stars:  Shaquille O’Neal, Andre Agassi, Monica Seles.  It opened in the spring of 1997. 

On April 13th of that year, investor, Tiger Woods, won his first Masters at Augusta.  Even people who didn’t follow golf, learned on that day who he was, and the eyes of the world were on him.  The next day, the eyes of the world followed him to Myrtle Beach where he had previously booked an appearance at The Official All-Star Café because it was going to be relatively convenient for him to stop by on his way from the Masters in Augusta, Georgia.  No one imagined at the time of the booking that he was going to be the biggest sports story in the world on the day that he appeared in Myrtle Beach! 

Speaking of sports stories, the chief source of them is celebrating its 70th year this summer, Sports Illustrated.  In fact, where Myrtle Beach’s Golf Hall of Fame is, Pine Lakes, is the birthplace of that magazine. To be clear, it was not conceived there, but it was birthed there, so to speak.  In 1954, Pine Lakes Country Club hosted the magazine’s first sales conference in April before the debut issue was released in August.  About 67 executives from TIME publishing in New York came down for a week to play golf and to figure out how they were going to launch this weird new magazine to the world.  Who’s ever heard of a magazine only about sports?  Who was going to buy it?  Would it last?  Well not only was that legendary publication started there, so was Myrtle Beach’s golf industry which eventually led to its miniature golf industry. 

The same folks who are now PopStroke’s landlords at Broadway at The Beach were one of the chief engines behind the proliferation of putt putt in Myrtle Beach, Burroughs and Chapin Company, known earlier as the Myrtle Beach Farms Company.  It was founded in 1912 by Milwaukee native, Simeon B. Chapin, and the sons of local visionary, Franklin G. Burroughs. The person we would refer to today as their Chief Operating Officer of that first company was a gentleman by the name of James Bryan.  It would be his grandson, James “Poddy” Bryan,  whom Sports Illustrated would dub The Father of Modern Miniature Golf. 

That title was earned throughout his career that stretched from the 1960s until his death in 2002.  He was an educator who happened to design mini golf courses, but it was the latter effort that is his legacy.  It is said that he designed about 20 golf courses along the Grand Strand, most of which are still here.  Then he went on to create approximately 230 around the US. 

PopStroke is definitely the next chapter in our golf history.  What I like most is that, with all of the technology, they don’t neglect to embrace the core benefit of miniature golf:  multi-generational fun!  Grandparents, grandkids, and the parents in between can all enjoy the game with each other, at the same time.  It just doesn't matter what your skill level is  or how many years of experience you have.  It’s about making memories.  That has been the driving force behind the popularity of this sport since its inception. 

And there’s one little additional perk that you won’t find at most miniature courses.  At the others, when you reach the 18th hole, you sink your putt, and your ball disappears forever.  At PopStroke, you get to keep your TaylorMade commemorative ball as a souvenir.

Kathryn Hedgepath

Myrtle Beach native, Kathryn Hedgepath, loves to share her hometown’s history with visitors and newcomers to the Grand Strand.  She is the creator and narrator of the Myrtle Beach History Trolley and Step-On Tours, and the author of the book, Myrtle Beach Movies, that tells the stories behind the motion pictures that were made or premiered in Myrtle Beach.  She has traveled in 40 countries on 6 continents and uses her experience to convey our local history through a world lens. Kathryn returned home from NYC in 2002 to marry her beloved husband, Jenks, after a career in television and publishing (and even worked in Space Shuttle Operations at NASA Headquarters in DC for a semester before starting grad school at Georgetown University).  Her first career job was as Personal Assistant to television icon and wildlife expert, Jim Fowler, of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom fame. Her dad, Myrtle Beach’s first veterinarian, arranged the job interview when Jim Fowler came to Myrtle Beach for a speaking appearance at a veterinary conference in 1991.