Chinese resident Shengwen Lan wasn’t content with the swag bag he received as a participant in the 2013 Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship last August.
He found that he wanted more after his first visit to the Myrtle Beach area.
So he has purchased a golf course.
Lan closed on the purchase of Crown Park Golf Club in Longs from its original developers – the Byers family – on Feb. 25, and has sent a business manager and his wife from China to manage the course.
He intends to keep the 18-hole course in operation and make a number of improvements, and has retained all of its employees.
Lan is the second Chinese citizen to purchase golf course property on the Grand Strand in the past nine months, and may not be the last.
A Chinese businessman known as Mr. Pan was behind the $8.5 million purchase at a Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction last June of Sea Trail Golf Resort, a 2,000-acre community that includes three golf courses in Sunset Beach, N.C.
Keller Williams Realty agent Jane Zheng of Myrtle Beach, a China native who represented Lan in his Crown Park purchase, has shown Chinese investors Myrtle Beach area real estate in the past and said she is working on several other potential transactions with Chinese residents, including some that involve golf courses.
Crown Park is Lan’s first real estate purchase in the United States. He lives in the seaside city of Dalian, China, and has successful businesses in the country involving residential and commercial real estate development, property management and pharmaceuticals. He has built several large developments in China and has more ongoing in China and South Korea.
Lan was previously the secretary of a regional golf association in China and regularly plays golf around the globe, and he has taken a liking to the market, courses and people on the Strand.
Lan was one of approximately a dozen players from China in the World Am last year, the second year that a small contingent from China participated in the Strand tournament through the Chinese sports marketing company Olle Sports.
He created Rose Park LLC in South Carolina for the Crown Park purchase. Hongtian Zheng, who is the administrative manager overseeing Lan’s company Dalian Virtue and Faith Realty Co Ltd., a subsidiary of Dalian Jiayiruitai Group Company Ltd., has been named the course’s general manager and is being assisted by his wife, Jing Li, who speaks English. The Byers family has assisted with the management transition.
The 18-hole Crown Park sold for $1.5 million plus the assumption of equipment leases that make it about a $2 million transaction, according to Stokes Graves of Tradd Commercial Real Estate, the property’s listing and marketing agent. Graves said Lan purchased 100 acres adjacent to the course from a regional bank a few months ago for $450,000. Those acres had been an additional nine holes before they closed in 2003 and are partially redeveloped.
Li said the development of single-family homes, condominiums and possibly some commercial businesses is likely two years away on the adjacent 100 acres.
“For the first two years we’ll focus on the golf course and make sure the maintenance is good,” Li said. “We need to do some research in the local market [before deciding what to build].”
The 6,502-yard Crown Park opened in 2001 and was designed by owner Robbie Byers.
A project to improve drainage in fairways and bunkers is among the new owner’s first orders of business. It is expected to begin in May and be completed by mid-June, and will be done one hole at a time to keep the course open.
“We need to improve the condition of the golf course in the first stage,” Li said.
Other improvements in the near future include paving the cart paths; expanding the food and beverage menu from hotdogs, sandwiches and snacks; upgrading kitchen equipment; and some clubhouse renovations.
Li said there are considerations to expand the clubhouse and build a restaurant on the property within the next few years.
First, she hopes to build relationships with golf course packagers and operators of other courses in the market, and said she and her husband will focus on attracting locals and snowbirds.
Li said the staffs of head professional Jerry Gaboriau and superintendent Jay Nelson have been left intact.
Crown Park may not be Lan’s final purchase in the area.
“We are exploring any of the business opportunities in this area and hope to introduce Myrtle Beach to people in Dalian and China,” Li said. “We are already here so we have to find more opportunities in the local market. But we’re going to focus on the golf course now. That’s our major job.”
Vets, firefighters playing
A pair of tournaments supported by National Golf Management, which operates 22 Strand courses, featuring firefighters and retired military personnel are being played on the Strand in May and are accepting entries.
The third annual Myrtle Beach Never Forgets Memorial Golf Outing is a three-day event from May 19-21 that includes two formal rounds and honors firefighters. The event is for firefighters, their friends and supporters. A total of 26 courses are participating.
Activities include a kickoff party at Thorny’s Steakhouse & Saloon on May 19, and 1 p.m. shotgun start and Charleston BBQ following golf on May 20. On May 21, there is a team best-ball tournament with long drive and closest-to-the-pin contests followed by an oceanfront “Beach Bash” at Springmaid Pier featuring the popular belly-flop contest and steaks and chicken grilled by members of the Charleston Fire Department.
Players can arrive on May 18 for practice rounds at special prices.
The outing raises money for the Firefighters Cancer Support Network, a grassroots organization providing assistance to firefighters and their family members dealing with cancer. Since the 9-11 terror attacks in 2001, more than 7,000 firefighters have come to Myrtle Beach for an event that has become the Never Forgets outing.
The entry fee is $205 for golfers and $115 for non-golfers. Visit myrtlebeachneverforgets.com or call 877-411-3369 to register or for more information. Former New York firefighter Nick Giordano helps organize the event.
The 31st annual National Retired Military Golf Classic will be played May 28-31 at Pine Lakes Country Club, Myrtlewood Golf Club’s PineHills course and Myrtle Beach National’s SouthCreek and West layouts. Pine Lakes and PineHills are new to the rotation.
Last year’s event featured approximately 800 players – 700 men and 100 women – and about the same number are expected this year.
Teams consist of four players of different abilities according to handicaps. Men play four rounds and women play three. The entry fee is $295 for men and $250 for women and includes awards, prizes, drawings, a golf shirt, hat or visor, party, and choice of a meal gift certificate or ticket to Alabama Theatre.
Abraham J. Turner, a retired Army major general and a South Carolina native, is the new tournament chairman. Retired Army colonel Terry Brown is the tournament director. Prizes include gift certificates, golf vacations and $10,000 for a hole-in-one. Special rates are available at several area hotels.
A valid military ID card and handicap index card are required. Visit oceanaresorts.com, email NRMGC@oceanaresorts.com or call 877-840-8464 to register or for information.
Golfweek Tour starting
The Myrtle Beach-Wilmington chapter of the Golfweek Amateur Tour is starting to gain steam and has its second event of the 2014 season Saturday at Tiger’s Eye Golf Links.
The first event at Leopard’s Chase Golf Links on March 8 featured 31 players, including six in the championship flight. Denny Adkins of North Myrtle Beach claimed victory with an 81.
Tour membership is $90 and tournaments are held on an average of every two weeks at a general cost between $75-$95 each. Host courses include Long Bay Club, Prestwick Country Club, Legends Resort, Carolina National, Barefoot Resort, Oyster Bay Golf Links and True Blue Plantation. The chapter championship will be played in late September at Bald Head Island Club.
The 2013 three-day national championship last October was held on nine courses in the Hilton Head Island area and attracted 825 golfers, including about 15 from the Myrtle Beach-Wilmington area. To qualify for the national finals, a golfer must play in at least five events and finish in the top 10 in their handicap flight.
Keith Weaver is the chapter director and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-631-1151.
Junior tour continues
The Myrtle Beach chapter of the National Junior Golf Tour is nearing the completion of its fall-spring season and has free tour membership for a year for boys and girls ages 8-18 until May 31. It will be $36 thereafter. One-day events are $58 for members and $68 for non-members.
David Burris and wife Sandy are the first-year co-directors of the Myrtle Beach chapter, which accepts players from Murrells Inlet to Wilmington, N.C., and west to Florence, and holds events throughout the area. Two of Burris’ five sons play on the tour.
The opening fall event in September had just seven players, but participation was up to 27 at an event at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina in December and there were 19 players at an event Saturday at Brick Landing Plantation.
The next event is April 12 at Brunswick Plantation. The tour championship will be held at River Oaks Golf Club on May 24-25 and the eight-week summer tour will follow. River Oaks will host the national championship Labor Day weekend. It was held at The Pearl last year and attracted more than 100 players.
Visit www.nationaljuniorgolftour.com or call Burris at 843-458-6979 for more information.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.