Whispering Pines

Letter | Myrtle Beach citizens must protest Whispering Pines changes

March 22, 2014 

04-11-11/Monday----Golfers from left, Don Allen of Edmonton, Canada, Kirby Kelly of Myrtle Beach and Thomas Millard of Myrtle Beach, walk to the 18th tee Monday during a round of golf at Whispering Pines Golf Course in Myrtle Beach. Construction continues at the course to improve several holes including the construction of a large pond along the 18th fairway. The city owned course has looked for ways to help with performance of the course while looking for other long-term options for the property. Whispering Pines is the former golf course for the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, which donated the property to the city when the base closed in 1993.Photo By Randall Hillrhill@thesunnews.com

There have been numerous articles and Readers Page letters in the Sun News concerning the apparently inevitable closing of the Whispering Pines Golf Course. I hope that all of the taxpaying citizens of Myrtle Beach are aware of what might happen to this beautiful golf course, which was a gift to the city by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The letter in the Feb.17th edition of The Sun News, written by Joey Taylor, was a well researched, convincing argument opposed to the disturbing potential action of Myrtle Beach Mayor Rhodes and City Council members who seem determined to close the course. As Mr. Taylor points out, the reported losses of the golf course are a very small part of the overall city budget. It is 0.15 percent of the city’s total budget of $158 million.

Considering the number of rounds played at this golf course, that amount of loss is suspect. But even if true, as stated by Mr. Taylor, it is a small number when compared to the costs of running the city’s fitness centers, maintaining the baseball stadium and supporting sports tourism in general. Remember, Myrtle Beach is supposedly the golf capitol of the World and yet the mayor and city council have no interest in maintaining a great municipal golf course. One has to ask, why and who will benefit?

What all taxpaying citizens of Myrtle Beach should be asking is, what are the exact plans of the mayor and council for this beautiful property. It has been reported that their intention, at least initially, was to convert the property to an executive golf course, which the area does not need, and to then use a portion of the land for tennis courts, ball fields, soccer fields, and an area on which to hold festivals.

Has a detailed plan been developed for this endeavor? If not, why and shouldn’t this be the first step? What is the estimated cost of those renovations, how will the city fund them, and how will the city recoup their investment? Has a cost/benefit analysis of this endeavor been completed or will this be another costly mistake made by the council while residents are sitting back and not paying adequate attention to what is about to happen?

The Whispering Pines Golf Course, with its location, its layout, and its low overhead should be an absolute money-maker for the city. The city has not adequately maintained its gift and thus some improvements and changes should be made to bring the course up to a higher standard. This would create more use by both local and non-local players. The city apparently believes it has millions of dollars available to invest in destroying the course. Saving Whispering Pines would cost far less and would give the citizens a place to be proud of as well as beautiful green space to pass on to future generations.

I urge all city residents to voice their concerns to the mayor and council.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

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