The new Colonial Charters Golf Club reopening this weekend

ablondin@thesunnews.comAugust 22, 2013 

The new sign (forefront) for Colonial Charters Golf Club in the median of the entrance road has joined the old existing community sign along the side of S.C. 9.

BY ALAN BLONDIN — The Sun News

— The old is new again at Colonial Charters Golf Club.

The course has regained its original name after going by Palmetto Greens Golf & Country Club following a redesign in 2008, and it is reopening with new ownership and management this weekend following nearly two months of renovations.

It opens to the general public on Monday, and will open first to residents from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday for golf and an open house complete with free entertainment, beverages, hot dogs and hamburgers.

Pace Group, a development company headed by Myrtle Beach resident Van Watts, struck a lease-purchase agreement last month with course owner Mike Matheny to take over the layout, and hired East Coast Golf Management to operate it.

A new Colonial Charters sign in the entry road’s median off S.C. 9 is the first indication of approximately $250,000 invested in changes and improvements to the golf course and clubhouse, according to Mike Buccerone, president of East Coast Golf Management, which manages five other Strand courses.

“I’m very excited about what they’re doing over there,” said Keith Jester, president of the Colonial Charters Master Community Association. “The clubhouse looks nice and the golf course looks as good as it has in years. The people over there seem to me to be dedicated to make this a community-friendly golf course and clubhouse. I’m really excited for our residents, and most of the people I talk to are also excited about it.”

Every room of the clubhouse has been repainted. The building also has new crown molding, trim work, lounge furniture, patio furniture, dining room furniture – including 10 tables, 50 chairs and 18 bar stools – four new flatscreen televisions and five new air conditioning units.

The wooden rectangular bar remains, but the cooking hood exhaust system was replaced and relocated from the interior of the bar to the kitchen, which has been renovated with new or repaired equipment and appliances. Buccerone expects to have periodic theme dinners for residents and members now that menu options have expanded.

“This clubhouse is very functional, and it’s built for speed now,” Buccerone said. “Every room has been redone. We want to create a ‘wow’ factor when they first come in compared to what was here. We want to create more of a country club atmosphere, though we tried to keep [the improvements] within the integrity of what was here.”

The course had been closed a week before the lease agreement took effect, and Buccerone said weeds were several inches high in fairways and there were bare areas on some greens, which feature TifDwarf Bermudagrass.

Drainage work has been done and is ongoing, and Buccerone said there were three primary irrigation issues involving leaks and pump damage that had to be repaired. Bunkers have been reconditioned with new sand, and the course has a new fleet of golf carts and new maintenance equipment.

“We wanted to get in here and get the golf course as healthy as we could get it going into the fall and winter, so when we come out next year we’ll be that much healthier and better,” Buccerone said. “It will be an ongoing effort to continue to enhance the product.”

Superintendent David Trout has been overseeing the course’s renovations and will be the superintendent at both Colonial Charters and Azalea Sands Golf Club, where he has worked the past three years. East Coast Golf Management operations manager Dave Harbaugh, a longtime Wild Wing Plantation pro who joined the company in January, has acted as the de facto foreman of the project. “We’ll cross-utilize a number of employees both at the front and back of the house,” Buccerone said.

The layout lost about 300 yards when it was redesigned for a reopening in 2008 by Matheny with the help of designer Rick Robbins into a 6,427-yard par-71. Colonial Charters was originally a John Simpson design that opened in 1988.

The redesign featured increased water hazards, more open space on and around fairways, and more undulation in greens with surrounding mounds as backdrops.

Native cord grass has been relocated to water banks and more will likely be moved. Man-made multi-level rock waterfalls to the left of the eighth green and right of the 14th green might be utilized again by the spring.

Buccerone said a full-length driving range is expected to remain for several years until its acreage is need for lot sales. The initial phase of new housing will be the continuation of a development behind the clubhouse.

Colonial Charters, which has more than 900 existing homes in the surrounding community, is single-teeing with comfortable 10-minute tee times. “It’ll be a fun golf course – nothing that’s going to beat players up,” Buccerone said.

East Coast also manages Azalea Sands, Rivers Edge Golf Club, River Oaks Golf Club, Indigo Creek Golf Club and Heron Point Golf Club, as well as Rose Hill Golf Club in Bluffton. It also has a marketing partnership with 13 additional Strand courses.

“It’s a fun project,” Buccerone said. “You’re basically going in on the ground floor and trying to restore something, and seeing the community interest. People have been coming out of their homes and thanking us. It’s a nice feeling.

“… I feel good about coming in and giving the community back their home. I think they’re going to continue to rally around it and support it moving forward.”

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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