On Grand Strand Golf: Beach back to a full complement of courses

ablondin@thesunnews.comSeptember 10, 2012 

The Love Course at Barefoot Golf Resort reopened to the public on Monday with new Champion Bermudagrass greens, and is the last of six 18-hole courses to reopen after renovations this summer.

The Championship nine at the 27-hole International World Tour Golf Links is still in the process of adding Mini-Verde Bermuda greens and is scheduled to reopen Oct. 1.

The renovation projects all include the installation of ultradwarf Bermuda greens, often in place of bentgrass, which offers a premier putting surface but becomes stressed in the summer heat.

The multiple varieties of ultradwarfs can provide putting surfaces that approach the level of bent and are generally easier to maintain.

The Love Course joins Barefoot’s Dye Club, Prestwick Country Club, the Grande Dunes Resort Course, Myrtle Beach National’s King’s North course and Meadowlands Golf Club in reopening.

The Love Course’s transition from A1 bentgrass to Champion completes the transition to Champion from bent of all four Barefoot courses. The Dye Club reopened July 14 after changing from L93 bent, and the Fazio and Norman courses were renovated last summer at the 12-year-old facility.

“We’re very excited to have all four with Champion,” Barefoot general manager Dave Genevro said. “Now there aren’t two different practices we have to intertwine for bentgrass and Bermuda. Everything will be the same – applications will now be consistent since we’re supporting the same grass on all four courses.”

While it was shut down, the Love Course also received work on drainage, cart paths and the grounds. At the Dye Club, railroad ties in bulkheads were repaired or replaced near the ninth and 18th greens, and bunkers were improved.

The conversion to Bermuda at Grande Dunes and the King’s North Course leave none of the 22 courses managed by National Golf Management with bent greens.

Grande Dunes reopened on Aug. 24 with Champion Bermudagrass in place of L93 bent, and the bag drop at the front entrance was expanded to eliminate the need for a second bag drop area behind the clubhouse and transportation of players to their carts.

The King’s North course reopened on Aug. 21 with Champion in place of Crenshaw bent on greens. The course also has updated yardage markers, tee markers and directional signs, and washed out areas in waste bunkers that double as cart paths were restored.

Prestwick reopened on Sept. 1 not only with new TifEagle greens in place of TifDwarf Bermuda, but also a refurbished second floor of the clubhouse, which houses the pro shop.

The pro shop, foyer, lounge, restrooms, banquet room and bar and grill were all renovated, and changes include new carpeting, paint, furniture and a granite countertop bar.

The Prestwick layout received additional attention with tree removal, reshaped bunkers and improvements to some tee boxes and waste bunkers.

The most significant changes to a layout this summer took place at Meadowlands, which reopened Aug. 29 with new TifEagle greens in place of TifDwarf and modifications to a couple holes.

Changes to the 480-yard par-4 third and 432-yard par-4 sixth holes were made to make them less punishing.

A large mound that obscured the view of the sixth green from the fairway was removed, and an elevated fairway was lowered about 4 feet and mounding was added to the right side to shape the hole and keep more drives in play.

Dirt from that project was used to extend the landing area on the third hole by about 30 yards, giving golfers a chance to get closer to a crossing pond and hence closer to the green off the tee. The size of the bailout area to the right of the green was enlarged with the pond’s reduction, as well.

The Open nine at International World Tour reopened on July 23 with Mini-Verde greens in place of L93 bent, the Championship nine is being redone and the International nine is scheduled to be done next summer.

World Tour has also replaced bunker sand and improved drainage in all bunkers on holes that have been completed, replaced several sections of concrete cart paths and removed some trees that were affecting paths.

The installation of ultradwarf Bermuda greens have been the impetus for renovations on numerous Strand courses in recent years.

Last summer, Barefoot’s Fazio and Norman courses, Wild Wing Plantation’s Avocet Course, River Club, Myrtle Beach National’s West Course, Quail Creek Golf Club at Coastal Carolina, The Pearl’s East Course, Lion’s Paw Golf Links and Brick Landing all had renovations that included changes to greens.

New eats at Barefoot

Barefoot Resort resident Jim Finley used to frequent the Barefoot Bar & Grill at the golf resort’s driving range and practice facility before the Howie Lavin-owned restaurant unexpectedly shut down in early May.

It didn’t take long for Finley to miss the place and what if offered. “I went there after golf most days, or I’d hit a bucket of balls and go have a beer,” Finley said. “It was a reason to get out of the house.”

Getting the building ready for a reopening has been a reason for Finley to get out of the house lately. He and his wife, Donna, who own and operate Harry the Hats restaurant on Lake Arrowhead Road and previously operated a bar-restaurant in the Pittsburgh area called Big Dogs, hope to have Putters Pub open this month.

“A lot of our neighbors had been to Harry the Hats, and after it closed they asked us about opening it,” Finley said.

A contest to name the restaurant was held among Barefoot residents. Out of about 100 suggestions, the Finleys chose four finalists and put them to a vote, which Putters Pub won.

The restaurant will serve steaks, pizza, burgers, wings and other bar food, and hours of operation are likely to be 11 a.m.-midnight – possibly later on weekends. The Finleys believe support from Barefoot Resort residents and visitors will be enough to make the venture successful.

“We’re not even going to try to market out of Barefoot,” Finley said. “We will operate it as a local bar. There are enough residents in Barefoot. Nobody wants to go [east] across the Waterway.”

The Finleys also have a built-in agreement to feed students at the Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy on the back side of the driving range. The academy has 10 full-time students this year.

Johnson has shot

Coastal Carolina alum Dustin Johnson has had another strong run in the FedExCup playoffs and still has a chance to win the points race and claim the $10 million bonus.

He isn’t in complete control of his FedEx finish at the conclusion of next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, but he’s close.

Johnson has finished third, fourth and sixth in the three playoff events after winning a playoff event in each of the past two years, and sits seventh in points. Though Rory McIlroy has won the past two playoff events, the points get reset for the Tour Championship.

Johnson needs to win the Tour Championship to have a chance at the huge payday, and can’t have McIlroy finish better than a three-way tie for second or No. 2 Tiger Woods finish alone in second.

A finish inside the top five in points at the conclusion of the Tour Championship guarantees Johnson at least a $1 million bonus – something he achieved in 2010 and 2011.

Hurricane on way

The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour based in Jacksonville, Fla., is holding the Myrtle Beach Junior Challenge at Myrtle Beach National’s West Course from Sept. 29-30.

The event is for juniors ages 11-18 and the registration deadline is Sept. 19. Winners receive entry into the season-ending tour championship and the event is recognized by the National Junior Golf Scoreboard and South Carolina Junior Golf Association’s Heritage rankings. Players can register at www.hjgt.org or call 904-379-2697.

In the tour’s event this past week at Indigo Run’s Golden Bear Golf Club in Hilton Head Island, Vijay Mishra of North Myrtle Beach finished second in the boys 11-14 division with a 4-over 148. Zak Butt from Summerville won the division with a tournament-best 2-under 142. The event featured more than 80 players in four age divisions.

U.S. Kids teeing off

The U.S. Kids Golf Myrtle Beach Fall Tour kicks off at River Oaks Golf Plantation on Saturday with tee times beginning at 1 p.m. The registration deadline for the River Oaks event, with a late fee of $15, is midnight Wednesday, and all players must register online at http://uskidsgolf.com.

The tour is for juniors ages 5-14. The remaining fall events are Sept. 29 at Indigo Creek Golf Club, Oct. 20 at Heron Point Golf Club, Oct. 27 at Arcadian Shores Golf Club, Nov. 3 at River Oaks, Nov. 17 at Eagle Nest Golf Club, and Dec. 1 at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina. The fall tour championship is Dec. 8 at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club.

To view Blondin’s blog, Green Reading, go to MyrtleBeachOnline.com.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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