(ARA) - Finding an activity or game the whole family can enjoy can be a challenge; varying age groups, skill levels and interests may have everyone going in different directions. The same challenge can be true of family vacations. The youngest members of the family may crave a theme-park getaway, while teens want to hit the beach, and parents and grandparents seek more sophisticated activities like antiquing or museum hopping.
A growing number of families, however, are solving both challenges by choosing golf vacations
. In 2011, nearly 26 million people age 6 and older golfed in the U.S., according to the National Golf Foundation
. The sport attracts families - both serious golfers and casual dabblers - for many reasons.
Fortunately, says Scott Schult, a golf enthusiast and travel expert with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB, vacationing families have plenty of options if they choose a golf vacation. Families seeking a golf destination should keep several factors in mind, Schult says:
* Does the destination cater to families with special offers and incentives?
"With summer vacation season upon us, destinations will compete for business - good news for families seeking deals," Schult says.
When evaluating a location, check online resources for special offers tailored for families. For example, during the summer kids play for free at 46 courses in the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area, including the renowned Arrowhead Country Club, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club and Possum Trot Golf Course, where humorously named holes help the course earn its reputation as the "friendliest course on the Grand Strand."
* Does the location offer a mix of serious golfing opportunities and "just-for-fun" options?
Some golf destinations may be more geared to serious, adult golfers than for families, while others may be heavier on miniature golf courses than championship-level play. The ideal location for a family golf vacation
will have a mix of both types of venues. If you'll be staying at a golf resort, the same principle should apply. The resort should offer a mix of types of play that will appeal to both beginners and sophisticated golfers.
* Is instruction available for all levels of player?
Look for a location where instruction is available - either individual or group. Not only will lessons give everyone an opportunity to improve their game, they can also allow parents the enjoyment of watching their children discover something new and exciting. In Myrtle Beach, many courses offer one-on-one instruction, or small-group lessons, such as the Grande Dunes Golf Academy or the Classic Swing Golf School.
* Are there other attractions that will appeal to the whole family?
While golf may be the impetus for your vacation, there's no shame in breaking away from the course now and then. Look for locations that offer myriad other activities and attractions for times when you want to do something else. Family-friendly locations should include a mix of dining and lodging options, museums and amusement parks, beaches and park areas, musical shows, historic sites and more. Myrtle Beach, S.C., is the perfect example of this kind of destination.
"Whether you're a family of avid golfers or just learning the sport, a golf vacation is a great way to bring the family together, spend some time in the fresh air and have some fun while learning something about the sport and each other," Schult says. To learn more about golfing in America, visit the National Golf Foundation's website at www.ngf.org. For more information on Myrtle Beach golf vacations, log on to www.visitmyrtlebeach.com