Seven firms vie for chance to manage Whispering Pines Golf Course

mprabhu@thesunnews.comJuly 2, 2014 

JANET BLACKMON MORGAN — jblackmon@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

Seven firms submitted proposals to the city of Myrtle Beach for the opportunity to manage Whispering Pines Golf Course. City Council could select a firm to manage the failing course during Tuesday’s meeting.

Arnold Palmer Golf Management

Arnold Palmer Golf Management, based in Dallas, manages five courses in the Myrtle Beach area.

“One of the biggest issues we have is variety for [golfers], so it felt like it would fit perfectly with what we do,” said Regional Vice President Larry Woodberry during a June 10 City Council workshop.

Arnold Palmer’s proposal asks the city to pay a management fee. The firm would offer a profit-sharing option with the city once revenue exceeds expenses.

The firm recommends extensive upgrades to the course, which the city would be expected to pay for.

Strategies would be created for seniors, club members, a loyalty club, a players club and for residents and tourists. The firm also would implement a targeted marketing plan.

Atlantic Golf Management

Chip Smith with Murrells Inlet-based Atlantic Golf Management said the company would take full financial responsibility of Whispering Pines, and handle any deficit the course incurs. Smith owns and operates TPC of Myrtle Beach.

“The liability and the risk would be taken from the city’s side,” Smith said during the workshop, adding that the firm would split profits with the city.

Atlantic Golf Management would provide the course’s staff and manage the hiring and firing of employees. The firm would aim to hire students from Coastal Carolina University to manage the pro shop and Horry-Georgetown Technical College students to manage food and beverage sales.

The firm also would plan to develop a junior golf program.

Smith suggested rebranding the course, naming it Atlantic Golf Links, but said it was not a requirement to move forward with an agreement.

Billy Casper Golf

Billy Casper Golf, located in Vienna, Va., also is asking the city for a monthly management fee and would offer a percentage of the profits to the city.

A representative from Billy Casper Golf did not attend the June 10 meeting.

The firm proposes implementing multiple golfer development programs to meet the learning needs of men, women, seniors, juniors, beginners, avid players, low handicappers, and disadvantaged youth in the Myrtle Beach area.

Cypress Golf Management

Orlando, Fla.-based Cypress Golf Management said the firm would offer membership and club events at Whispering Pines as well as host leagues and tournaments.

A representative from Cypress Golf Management did not attend the June 10 meeting.

The firm asks the city to pay a monthly management fee, and travel fees for staff would be included as part of the normal operating budget.

Davey Golf

Davey Golf, based in Lake Orin, Mich., plans to assume all operational risks involved in making Whispering Pines financially stable. However, the city would be expected to pay for capital improvements

A representative from Davey Golf did not attend the June 10 meeting.

According to the company’s plan, a capital reserve fund would be established after a year of operation and a percentage of revenue would be controlled by the city for capital improvements to make the course self-sustaining.

The firm would partner with CCU’s professional golf management program and HGTC to provide internships and job opportunities.

The firm said they would keep current general manager, Alan Chasteen, and would interview and hire other qualified staff members.

Robertson Golf Management Inc.

Huntsville, Ala.- based Robertson Golf Management Inc. is not asking for any financial contributions from the city and is offering to pay Myrtle Beach rent to manage the facility.

They also would pay for all capital improvements, according to the proposal.

“It’s a great location, it’s a great layout, it’s a good facility,” said David Robertson, president of Robertson Golf Management.

The firm would implement several special programs, including a “kid’s play free” program, a junior golf summer program and several leagues and tournaments.

Robertson Golf Management also proposed a program to allow those current Whispering Pines employees who wish to remain city employees a transitional period while they looked for another job within the city. If they choose to continue at Whispering Pines, they would become Robertson Golf Management employees.

Whispering Pines Advocates

Whispering Pines Advocates, a Murrells Inlet-based firm with two former PGA of America presidents and current and former S.C. Golf Association presidents, would focus on junior golf and developmental golf. The firm would operate the course as a nonprofit.

“We want to serve the needs of all golfers,” said Will Mann, one of the organizations four founders and director of Coastal Carolina University’s PGA Golf Management Program.

The firm proposes to transform Whispering Pines into a “junior golf mecca” and a Wounded Warrior training center while also offering an affordable golf option for all.

The firm proposes bringing in golf course architect Tom Fazio, as well as Jay and Bill Haas, to make several improvements to the course, which they ask to be paid for by the city.

Students from CCU would serve as instructors and HGTC students in the agronomics program would intern at the course.

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