On Grand Strand Golf: Tidewater closing for project to improve greens

ablondin@thesunnews.comJune 2, 2014 

The par-3 12th hole at Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation. The course will close after play on Sunday for a renovation project that will last more than 14 weeks.

THE SUN NEWS FILE PHOTO

Tidewater Golf Club & Plantation, one of the more heralded and decorated courses on the Grand Strand, is closing for more than 14 weeks for a major renovation project that will include a conversion of its greens to MiniVerde ultradwarf Bermudagrass.

The course is closing following play on Sunday and is scheduled to reopen on Sept. 25.

Tidewater’s greens came out of a harsh winter in rough shape, and course operators have utilized lab analysis of the greens’ soil and property’s water composition to help determine their best course of action.

“We are ecstatic about this new project and getting our greens back to where they need to be,” Tidewater general manager Archie Lemon said. “Our tees and our fairways were as good as they’ve ever been, but if you’re greens aren’t in good shape … The greens were not to our standards.”

One of the more expensive courses on the Strand with green fees that can reach about $175 during the height of golf seasons, Tidewater has been awarding gift cards at check-in to players who prepaid through golf packages. The cards varied from $30 to $75 per player and were good for food, merchandise, replays, etc., and players have also been receiving a complimentary sleeve of Titleist Pro-V1 golf balls.

“Our greens weren’t where they needed to be so we made concessions to our customers,” Lemon said.

Tidewater was named the best new public course in the U.S. by Golf Digest after it opened in 1990, and has since been ranked among the top 100 public courses in the country by both Golfweek and Golf Magazine.

Tidewater’s 7,044-yard layout bounces between the Intracoastal Waterway and Cherry Grove Inlet, with several holes along both, and is credited to developer Ken Tomlinson with routing by Rees Jones.

The course’s greens were first redone in 1999 from their original Penncross bentgrass to A1 bent, but the A1 didn’t perform well and they were changed again to TifEagle Bermuda in 2002, as Tidewater was among the first courses in the area to install one of the ultradwarf Bermudas that are now featured on most Strand courses.

This spring, course operators sought advice from course designers and consultants, and had soil and water samples tested by the International Sports Turf Research Center of Lenexa, Kan., and Rep Consulting Inc. of Hartville, Ohio. The course’s primary water source is deep wells.

Lemon said the research showed the top four inches of soil mix beneath the grass on the greens was creating the problems. A buildup of organic matter was affecting the health of the grass and drainage.

“We took all that input and let the analytics determine what had to be done,” Lemon said.

Rather than replace the greens through a quick no-till method that is popular in the area – and was used for Tidewater’s first two green transitions – Spence Golf Inc of Greensboro, N.C., will oversee the stripping and rebuilding of the greens.

Golf course architect and builder Kris Spence will rebuild green collars to assist with drainage, help expand greens back to their original size and reduce excessive grade in greens.

Former Burroughs & Chapin and Dunes Golf and Beach Club superintendent Randy Allen of Modern Turf will install and oversee the grow-in of the new MiniVerde surfaces.

“We want to get it right,” Lemon said. “When we open back up at the end of September we’ll be ready to rock and roll.”

MiniVerde was chosen because it has a stronger root system than other comparable ultradwarf Bermuda grasses, Lemon said. It is featured on more than a dozen area courses, including the TPC of Myrtle Beach and International World Tour Golf Links, as well as other courses in the Southeast including East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta and Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, which host PGA Tour events.

While Tidewater is closed, bunker sand will be added or replaced and some trees will be trimmed or removed to assist the new greens through more sunlight and better air flow.

In the past five years, the course has undergone extensive tee box and cart path renovations.

An alternate plan

No golfers from the Grand Strand qualified for the $8 million U.S. Open among those in 36-hole sectional qualifiers Monday, though Coastal Carolina rising senior Andrew Dorn came awfully close and is a first alternate.

Dorn, who is from West Chester, Ohio, was one of 69 players competing for three U.S. Open spots Monday at Springfield (Ohio) Country Club. Brian Stuard of Michigan won the sectional at 11-under 129, Will Grimmer of Cincinnati was second at 135 and Chris Thompson of Lawrence, Kan., was third and a stroke ahead of Dorn at 136.

Dorn shot an even-par 70 in the first round, then teed off on the 10th hole in the second round and birdied his first two holes and four of his first six to reach 4 under. He added a birdie on the first hole to reach 5 under but bogeyed the fourth, fifth and seventh holes to fall two shots out of third place at 2 under. He birdied his final hole, the par-3 ninth, but he needed Thompson to stumble, and Thompson played the back nine 1 under with a birdie on the 13th hole and five consecutive pars to finish.

If Dorn can get into the U.S. Open field next week at Pinehurst Resort’s No. 2 course, he already has a history of success there. Last summer, he won the 113th Men's North & South Amateur Championship on No. 2. Dorn intends to be in Pinehurst just in case.

Golfathon for cause

Simon Brand of Myrtle Beach, 44, played more golf in one day on Monday than some recreational golfers play in a year.

For the second consecutive year, Brand, the owner of the Expert Installations window treatments business and a member of Wachesaw Plantation Club, played 150 holes at his home course for a good cause.

The golf marathon was to raise money for a Palmetto Shores Church youth group to travel to Honduras from July 11-18 on a mission trip. The trip’s purpose is to share the Baptist church’s message, improve housing conditions primarily by installing cement floors, and provide dental care.

A group of 14 middle school-aged children hope to accompany at least 10 adults on the trip but each child must raise $1,500, and Brand solicited donations for his long golf day to defray their cost.

After having a dream about playing golf for a similar Honduras trip last year, he completed 150 holes in 2013 and repeated the feat in 2014.

Brand became a Wachesaw member last year after the course allowed him to complete his goal. He continues to solicit donations at www.golfingforthegospel.org.

PGA vols still sought

Less than three weeks before the opening round of the PGA Professional National Championship from June 22-25 at both The Dunes Club and the Grande Dunes Resort Course, tournament organizers are still seeking approximately 50 volunteers as well as more caddies.

The Dunes Club head pro Dennis Nicholl said more than 550 volunteers have registered, but the event could still use more people who can walk 18 holes as official scorers and standard bearers.

The PNC will bring 312 of the top PGA of America club and teaching pros from 41 PGA sections across the U.S. to compete for 20 spots in the 2014 PGA Championship, to be held at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., in August.

Every group in the PNC must be accompanied by a walking scorer, who will record the score of each golfer in the group on a hand-held unit. Standard bearers will carry signs displaying scores for each group in each of the final two rounds at The Dunes Club, and it is the only volunteer position that can be filled by people under the age of 18.

It may be imperative for the Strand to successfully support the tournament in order to receive consideration from the PGA of America for future events.

“We’ve had great response from the community,” Nicholl said. “We just want to make sure we have plenty of bodies. We want to prove to the PGA that we can put on an event. You never know what’s down the road. We want to showcase Myrtle Beach and what it offers. The word just has to be out there. It’s just staying in front of people. I think they’ll do a great job and we’ll get everything covered.”

Volunteer training begins on June 14. Practice rounds begin on June 19.

Volunteer packages for the event cost $25 and include a uniform (hat and golf shirt), access to the championship grounds for the week and lunch each day. Volunteers who sign up for three or more shifts will also receive a complimentary and transferrable round of golf.

The official volunteer application may be downloaded at www.thedunesclub.net under the “Golf” tab. Contact volunteer coordinator David Kullenberg at pncvolunteers@gmail.com or the club at 843-449-5914 for more information.

Interested caddies can also contact Kullenberg. Tournament organizers have assigned about 50 caddies to players over the past couple days but more are needed for both practice and tournament rounds. Caddies will be paid $75 per day by players.

Nicholl said almost all tee times are booked for practice rounds from June 19-21.

Open selling out

All U.S. Open tickets for the second and third rounds next Friday and Saturday at Pinehurst’s No. 2 Course are sold out, according to the USGA.

Limited tickets for the first and final rounds remained as of Monday, and start at $110 each for Thursday and $135 each for Sunday. The U.S. Open has sold out for 27 consecutive years and up to 50,000 spectators are expected to attend each round.

Each buyer is permitted to purchase up to four tickets for each day. All tickets include complimentary general parking and shuttle transportation, which will begin at 5:30 a.m. each day.

Junior tickets will be available on-site at Will Call and at all admission gates during the championships. Juniors ages 12 and younger will be admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult ticket holder. Tickets for juniors ages 13 to 17 will be available for purchase at a reduced rate of $15 for practice rounds and $35 for championship rounds. There is a maximum of two junior tickets per one adult ticket holder.

Visit usopen.comor www.usga.org./tickets for more information. Tickets for the U.S. Women’s Open the following week from June 19-22 start at $30 per day and can be purchased at uswomensopen.com. Up to 25,000 spectators are expected for Women’s Open rounds.

Optimist opportunities

Based on their finishes in a tournament this past weekend, the South Carolina District of Optimist International is sending four boys on expenses-paid trips to participate in the prestigious Optimist International Junior Golf Championships from July 19-29 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

The qualifiers had to finish atop their age divisions and shoot qualifying scores in the Clinton Norris Memorial Qualifier at Black Bear Golf Club on Saturday and Sunday.

Winning their divisions and earning the trips were Zach Reuland in the Boys 10-11 division with a 151, Jack Robinson in Boys 12-13 with a 172, Kent Lawerence Jr. in Boys 14-15 with a 147, and Colin Reno in the Boys 16-18 with a 150.

The tournament had 30 players, though no girls competed for the Florida trip. The expenses include a $650 entry fee, accommodations, food and gas.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284 or on Twitter @alanblondin, or read his blog Green Reading at MyrtlebeachOnline.com.

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