On Grand Strand Golf: Rain washing out rounds on Myrtle Beach courses

ablondin@thesunnews.comJuly 1, 2013 

A record amount of June rainfall in the Myrtle Beach area following a cool and wet spring has taken its toll on area golf courses.

Several courses on the north end of the Grand Strand closed for all or part of the day on Monday primarily because of saturated conditions and standing water, and multiple golf tournaments this week have been postponed and/or altered.

Farmstead Golf Links, Meadowlands Golf Club and River Hills Golf & Country Club – three courses managed by National Golf Management that are in or adjacent to Little River – were closed Monday.

“It’s been an unbelievable run of bad weather,” said Steve Mays, National Golf Management vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s just kind of a continuation of where we were during the spring. We continue to get hit by weather and rain. It definitely has an impact on our business, especially in the summer when it’s generally a last-minute decision to play.

“It’s been a very difficult spring and start to the summer from a golf playability standpoint. It will be interesting the see the numbers when they come back for June.”

The north end of the Strand appears to be the hardest hit, as superintendents there have measured more than 10 inches of rain in the past week.

At many courses, fairways resemble creeks in the aftermath of heavy showers, areas of cart path aren’t passable and ponds are filled to the top of their banks. The heavy rain and localized flooding has also displaced snakes and other critters that are moving about looking for refuge or new homes.

Eastport Golf Club in Little River was also closed Monday.

Cypress Bay Golf Club closed at 2 p.m. after water filled parts of the 10th and 18th fairways. “Most of the course is playable, you just have to hit across some larger water hazards than usual,” said Cypress Bay director of golf Rob Lane.

The Pearl Golf Links closed at 2 p.m., Brunswick Plantation closed at 3 p.m. and Aberdeen Country Club closed mid-afternoon after areas of cart path flooded.

Crow Creek Golf Club closed around 3:30 p.m. and had earlier delays because water had to be pumped from a cart path tunnel that goes beneath Hickman Road.

Many of the north end courses each had several dozen players tee off, and many who teed off early enough were able to finish 18 holes. Courses also granted a number of 18- and nine-hole rain checks.

All of the aforementioned courses that closed in the afternoon Monday expect to be open Tuesday, as well as Eastport and River Hills, where workers were clearing water from cart paths with pumps Monday. “We’re doing everything we can do to open but it’s just not possible today,” River Hills first assistant Geoff Appleby said. The course has 70 players booked Tuesday.

Meadowlands will remain closed Tuesday and is scheduled to reopen Wednesday as long as cart paths are passable.

The reason for Farmstead’s closing is more complicated than just standing water, but is also weather-related. The course closed Monday and will remain closed through July 11 to improve course conditions in fairways.

National Golf Management officials say the abnormal spring weather caused the course’s ryegrass winter overseed to thrive and suppress the growth of the warm-weather Bermudagrass base. An herbicide is being used to kill off the remaining rye and allow the Bermuda to take over, resulting in spotty fairways during the transition.

Aerification of greens was scheduled for July 9 at Farmstead, but took place Monday so the greens can recover during the closure.

The NGA Tour’s Carolina Series has rescheduled two tournaments that were scheduled this week, and the Carolinas PGA indefinitely suspended play in Saturday’s first round of the Carolinas Junior PGA Championship at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina and canceled Sunday’s final round.

A CPGA official said the organization will issue a statement Tuesday regarding its decision on how to complete the tournament. It is expected to shorten the tournament to an 18-hole round to be played at the Hackler Course in the next few weeks. The girls and boys winners qualify for the Junior PGA Championship from July 30-Aug. 2 at Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va.

The NGA Tour had events scheduled for Farmstead on Monday and Tuesday and Meadowlands on Thursday and Friday, but both have been rescheduled for Sept. 16-17 and 19-20 at courses to be announced. The Farmstead event had been recently moved to River Hills but still couldn’t be played.

“With this much rain and as much as is forecast for the rest of the week, we decided to keep the players that don’t live here from having to pay for hotel rooms when they might not be able to play anyway,” NGA Carolina Series tour director Terry Johnson said. “We know the weather will be better in September barring a hurricane. It was just the best thing to do and in the best interest of the players.”

It’s the first postponement of a Carolina Series event this year, though one event was shortened from 54 to 36 holes because of weather.

World Tour retains 19th

International World Tour Golf Links owner Mel Graham of Charlotte, N.C., has opted to retain the ninth hole of the now-closed International nine on the former 27-hole property as a 19th hole while redeveloping the other eight holes.

World Tour opened in 1999 with 27 holes resembling famous golf holes around the world. It still has the Open and Championship nines featuring holes inspired by those at 14 courses including Augusta National, Oakmont, TPC Sawgrass and St. Andrews.

The International nine closed June 1. Its ninth hole – a 429-yard par-4 modeled after the fifth hole at Jupiter Hills in Florida – runs along the entrance road and finishes at the clubhouse. Its green is being changed from bentgrass to Mini-Verde Bermuda to match the property’s other holes, and it can be used as a warmup hole or to settle wagers.

“We are totally renovating the 19th hole and all of the practice greens to match the other 18 holes we totally renovated last year,” said Graham, who added the course is enjoying its busiest year since 2007.

He still hasn’t settled on a redevelopment plan for the other eight holes. Graham said in March that there are a number of residential proposals for the property and he’ll take his time to select one. He doesn’t expect construction to begin until at least 2014.

Golf show makes visit

The Traveling Golfer web show made reviewed all four Barefoot Resort courses in one episode that debuted Monday. Host Tony Leodora of Philadelphia takes viewers on a tour of the courses designed by Tom Fazio, Davis Love III, Greg Norman and Pete Dye, then tours Greg Norman’s Australian Grill across the Intracoastal Waterway from the resort.

A portion of the show titled “After the Round” brings viewers inside the kitchen, where Leodora joins the chef to prepare a signature ahi tuna dish.

The fledgling Traveling Golfer is a monthly series of video travel and lifestyle features from golf destinations around the world. Barefoot Resort is the focus of the sixth episode and the first Strand property featured. The episode will reside for a month on The Traveling Golfer Network (a list of sites are listed at www.travelinggolfervideo.com), and old shows are archived on the site. The episode will also air from 5-7 p.m. next Monday as part of the Press Box show on the Strand’s HTC Channel 4.

Free demo and fitting

A free TaylorMade demo day complete with 30-minute club fittings will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Farmstead Golf Links practice facility hosted by Dale Ketola’s Potential Golf instruction.

The appointment-only fittings can be scheduled by calling Ketola at 843-833-3332. TaylorMade’s newest equipment and launch monitors will be utilized in the fittings.

The best for women

Pine Needles resort in nearby Southern Pines, N.C., was named the nation’s best course for women in the current issue of Golf Digest magazine. The Donald Ross classic has hosted three U.S. Women’s Opens and two other significant tournaments for women in recent years.

No Strand course was among America’s Top 50 Courses for Women, though Willbrook Plantation in Pawleys Island has been on the list before, coming in at No. 31 in both 2007 and 2010, and has also ranked among the top courses for women by Golf for Women magazine.

Golf Digest’s list was selected by a panel of more than 100 female course evaluators and each layout has at least one set of tees less than 5,300 yards, two sets with slopes and course ratings for women, and minimal forced carries from the forward tees. Programs for women, nine-hole playing options and progressive design philosophies with women in mind also helped a course’s ranking.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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