Golf courses on the Grand Strand suffered varying degrees of wind and water damage from Hurricane Matthew.
More than a dozen were able to reopen Monday and dozens more plan to reopen Tuesday, but several courses including The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, Surf Golf and Beach Club, Heritage Club and Aberdeen Country Club suffered more significant damage and may not open for several days or more.
Courses that opened Monday in Horry County include Arrowhead Country Club, the Barefoot Resort Dye Club and Love Course, River Oaks Golf Club, Myrtlewood Golf Club’s Palmetto Course, The Wizard and Legends Resort’s Heathland Course and nine holes of the Moorland Course.
Founders Club at Pawleys Island opened in Georgetown County, and in Brunswick County, N.C., Thistle Golf Club, The Pearl West, Carolina National, Sandpiper Bay Golf Club, nine holes at Oyster Bay Golf Links and all four Big Cat layouts at Ocean Ridge Plantation – Lion’s Paw, Panther’s Run, Tiger’s Eye and Leopard’s Chase – all reopened Monday.
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Course employees are working feverishly to clear courses so they can reopen. A host of other courses are expected to reopen Tuesday, and a vast majority of Strand courses will be open by Wednesday.
Course operators have an urgency to reopen as soon as possible considering they are in the midst of the important fall golf season that lasts approximately seven weeks through the third week of November and is integral to their annual bottom line.
So they have busy tee sheets full of vacationing golfers booked through package rounds that they’re trying to accommodate, and will be more significantly hurt financially the longer they remain closed.
“We didn’t suffer any significant damage, just a lost weekend in the middle of our season, but we can’t do anything about that,” said Claude Pardue, president and CEO of DG Golf Management, which operates three area courses.
Some courses, including the Dye Club and River Oaks, allowed carts in fairways Monday. “The wind caused all the damage but it also helped dry the courses out,” Barefoot Resort general manager Dave Genevro said.
Courses expected to reopen Tuesday in Horry County include Whispering Pines, Grande Dunes Resort Course, Long Bay Club, Myrtle Beach National’s SouthCreek Course, Diamondback, Indigo Creek, Azalea Sands, Farmstead, Eagle Nest, Man O’War, Heather Glen, Glen Dornoch, Possum Trot, the full 18 holes at Legends’ Moorland Course and nine holes of the Parkland Course, and nine holes at Colonial Charters.
Murrells Inlet courses Blackmoor and International Club of Myrtle Beach are expected to reopen Tuesday, as well as nine holes at River Club in Pawleys Island and Brunswick County courses Rivers Edge, Brick Landing, Lockwood Folly, The Pearl East (after 10 a.m.) and Brunswick Plantation (afternoon).
We came out here [Sunday] after the rain stopped and it looked fine, then that wind came through in the afternoon and that did all the damage. We had no trees down at 1:30, 2 o’clock. Then it looked like a bomb went off. Most of them came up by the roots.
Chip Smith, owner of Atlantic Golf Management, which operates Whispering Pines Golf Club
A pair of courses hit especially hard were the semi-private Surf Club and The Dunes Club. The Surf Club had a tornado go through the property Saturday morning in addition to the pounding from Matthew that followed, and The Dunes Club was hit by an ocean storm surge that reportedly exceeded 6 feet.
Surf Club GM Tom Prough hopes to reopen this weekend but estimates 400 to 500 trees have been felled on the property, including oak trees that were 4 feet wide and 60 feet tall. Trees around the clubhouse, which suffered minor roof and awning damage, around the cart barn and through several holes were damaged or downed, dramatically changing the playability of several holes including 1, 5, 7 and 8.
“The No. 1 issue we have is where the tornado hit. Where the tornado came through it’s massive,” said Prough, who estimates it will take six months to completely clean up the damage. “If you hit into an area where those trees are down, just drop another ball.”
Dunes Club head pro Dennis Nicholl said the storm surge flooded the cart barn below the clubhouse – the carts have been moved to the maintenance shed area on higher ground – leaving sand, mud and debris, and water seeped through some windows to wet carpet in the clubhouse, which will open for normal business and meals Tuesday.
Numerous trees were downed or damaged on the course, including a large tree next to the second and eighth tee boxes. Nicholl said he hopes the course reopens early next week.
“We’ve got a mess here, though most of it is cosmetic with debris,” Nicholl said.
A number of large trees are down at Heritage Club in Pawleys Island and operators expect a tree service to assist with the cleanup either Wednesday or Thursday. Head pro Sean Pearson said the property’s iconic live oaks made it through the storm, but many water oaks, pines and other trees did not. “We’re dealing with a big ole mess,” Pearson said. “We’re definitely going to be shut down through Thursday at least. Fairways, greens and tees aren’t bad, but we’re having a hard time getting around.”
A pair of courses that battled prolonged flooding following record rains last October will likely again be dealing with it this week. The back nine of The Witch off S.C. 544 is scheduled to reopen Wednesday, but the front nine runs through a swamp near the Waccamaw River, which is expected to peak at flood levels on Saturday.
“At The Witch we have to wait for the high water to go, like it is every time the Waccamaw rises,” said Pardue, whose courses The Witch, Man O’War and Wizard were scheduled to host a North American golf media outing this week that has been postponed until the first week of November.
Aberdeen Country Club on S.C. 9 in Longs was closed a few weeks last year, was already flooded by Matthew and will be impacted further by the Waccamaw. “Unlike last year we’re hoping the water will recede more quickly,” said Steve Mays, director of sales and marketing for Founders Group International, which operates 22 Strand courses, including Aberdeen.
A couple areas of cart path were washed out at The King’s North Course at Myrtle Beach National, which will keep the course closed until at least Thursday.
Power being out is a problem for several courses, especially in the Little River and Conway areas. Pine Lakes Country Club in Myrtle Beach is ready to reopen but is awaiting power. Three of the Glens Group’s four courses – Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club on S.C. 905 in Conway, and Heather Glen and Glen Dornoch in Little River – were without power Monday afternoon and were told it could be a few days before power is restored.
Heather Glen and Glen Dornoch and will reopen Tuesday with or without power. If it’s still without phone service, the courses will cater to walk-in play and existing tee times. “We will open without power,” said Glens Group general manager George Gore, who added that a foursome showed up at 7 a.m. Monday at Heather Glen wanting to play. “If people show up and want to play golf we’ll put them out there.”
Gore is hoping the golf carts will be charged enough to last maybe 36 holes. “We hope they’ll go a couple days with how they’re charged already,” he said. “If they go dead then I’ll allow walking for the first time ever.”
A portion of cart path was washed out on the Blue nine at Heather Glen so the 27-hole facility will operate 18 holes until it is repaired.
Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club on S.C. 905 in Conway had 75 trees down and has had to send workers to Myrtle Beach to get gas to run equipment, as no gas stations around it were open as of Monday. “It’s not the easiest situation right now,” Shaftesbury GM Ryan McCarty said. “Luckily we have beautiful weather and we’ve got everyone out here cleaning up.”
The Waccamaw River runs alongside Shaftesbury, and flooding last October affected its cart path routing, so McCarty is waiting to see the effects of a rising Waccamaw over the next few days.
We’ll be hauling stuff off for two weeks or two months, I don’t know. It was a lot worse than I thought it would be.
Possum Trot Golf Club head pro Bill Hulett
Nearly all of the Strand’s courses will be open Wednesday, when courses including Tidewater, Sea Trail Resort’s Byrd Course, Beachwood, Barefoot’s Fazio and Norman courses, River Hills Golf & Country Club, Shaftesbury Glen, Burning Ridge, International World Tour, Wild Wing Plantation, Willbrook Plantation and Pawleys Plantation may reopen.
The operators of True Blue Golf Club and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in Pawleys Island are optimistic about Wednesday openings. Approximately 20 large trees were down at True Blue, and about 50 were down at Caledonia. “But none of the trees we’d consider featured trees that are part of the architectural framework of the holes,” said Caledonia and True Blue director of golf operations Bob Seganti. “We feel very fortunate.”
Several more courses will need additional days including Arcadian Shores, Wachesaw East and Litchfield Country Club (all possibly Thursday), the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina and Sea Trail Jones Course (both possibly Saturday), Sea Trail Maples course (possibly next Tuesday), and Myrtle Beach National West Course.
CCU stars shining
Though the teams aren’t contending for wins, individual players on the Coastal Carolina men’s and women’s golf teams are excelling.
A week after CCU junior Malene Krolboll Hansen won a tournament and set a women’s program record in the process, senior Alfredo Ruiz shared medalist honors in the rain-shortened Tar Heel Intercollegiate. The Mexico native shot a 6-under 68-70–138 to match the 36-hole score of UNC Greensboro’s Jake McGlone before the final round was canceled.
Krolboll Hansen of Denmark finished with a 54-hole, school-record 9-under 70-71-66–207 on Sept. 28 to win the Golfweek Conference Challenge at the 6,262-yard Red Sky Golf Club’s Fazio Course in Vail, Colo. Sophomore Marie Lunackova of the Czech Republic posted the fifth-best 54-hole score in school history to finish third with a 4-under 212.
The CCU women tied for ninth in the tournament but shot the low round of the final day with a 2-under 286.