Bob Bestler | Whispering Pines is worth saving

January 31, 2014 

Whispering Pines Golf Course

The view on Whispering Pines Golf Course the 17th hole green, a par-3 with the new airport terminal building directly behind it.

BY CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

I’ve played Whispering Pines several times over the years, including a few one-club rounds with the Omar Shriners.

I played it again Monday, this time with more than a casual eye, and I came away thinking what a shame it would be to close this golf course.

But here we are. The Myrtle Beach City Council says Whispering Pines is a losing proposition and has scheduled a vote to close it.

Apparently, the city wants to replace the Whispering Pines layout with soccer fields, tennis courts and other sports-related venues.

I guess the city has the numbers, although it is difficult to see why Whispering Pines has not been able to compete with most other Grand Strand courses.

Admittedly, it has never held the status of many other courses. It’s doesn’t carry the name of a Fazio or a Dye or even a Love.

First as a military base, and then as a “muni,” it has always offered a cut-rate green fee. That permitted a lot of seniors and other low-income golfers to play the game they love, but the lower fees also contributed to its lowly status.

I’ll admit that it was never high on my own must-play list, but after giving it a good look Monday, I think I misjudged Whispering Pines. It’s a fun golf course and as I played it three thoughts came to mind:

• The course is in excellent condition, better, as I recall, than when the city initially took it over.

• It may not carry a Reese Jones label, but the course has a nice, clean layout, with each hole offering a unique look.

• And for the first time in my memory it is easy to find. No more sneaking in the back way off U.S. 17 Business, then following a bunch of signs to the parking lot.

Today, the Whispering Pines entrance is directly across from the entrance to Myrtle Beach International Airport, offering visiting golfers a first look at a Grand Strand course.

For golfers, losing a golf course is like losing a friend.

I can still get nostalgic about several of the holes I played regularly at Bay Tree Plantation’s three layouts before they were closed to make room for weeds.

I can say the same for Marsh Harbour and Ocean Harbour; at the time of their closing, both were among the Grand Strand’s premier golf courses.

Wild Wing Plantation was one of the two or three best golf complexes in this part of the country before a couple of its golf courses were ground up by a back hoe.

Like so many others, I hate to see it happen again and hope the City Council, before closing Whispering Pines, will look for ways to make it competitive in the Grand Strand market.

It is a wonderful course that is worth saving.

Contact BOB BESTLER at bestler6@tds.net.

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