Heather Glen Golf Links in Little River is likely to close as soon as early 2018 if a request for rezoning submitted by the course owner is approved by Horry County.
George Gore, general manager for The Glens Group, which operates Heather Glen through a lease agreement, said a housing developer is contracted to purchase the 30-year-old course contingent upon the rezoning approval, with additional standard contract contingencies based on due diligence.
“If approved, there’s a possibility Heather Glen will be developed in 2018,” Gore said.
The rezoning request is expected to be on the Aug. 3 agenda of the Horry County Planning Commission and would need the approval of three readings by Horry County Council in order to take effect.
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Most of the property is currently zoned SF10, which is residential with minimum lot sizes of 10,000 square feet. The proposed zoning is MRD2, which allows for a mixed residential development in the suburban areas of the county.
A sketch plan submitted to Horry County on behalf of the D.R. Horton homebuilder depicts a possible development with nearly 1,100 units – 799 single family homes and 284 duplex units.
D.R. Horton has numerous developments on the Grand Strand, including Tuscany and Sago Plantation near U.S. 501, West Lake in Market Common, The Farm in Carolina Forest, Retreat at Ocean Commons in Deerfield Plantation, Harmony at St. James and Hidden Brooke off S.C. 90 in Little River.
Heather Glen is a 27-hole facility covering more than 420 acres, including more than 42 acres of wetlands, according to the rezoning request.
The initial 6,783-yard 18 holes designed by Willard Byrd opened in 1987 and a nine-hole addition designed by Clyde Johnston opened in 1990.
The Glens Group also manages Glen Dornoch Golf Links, Possum Trot Golf Club and Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club, and Gore said golf package providers have already been alerted to Heather Glen’s possible closing.
While the course remains open, Gore said it will be maintained to the same level of the management group’s other courses. “The quality of the course will be as it’s always been,” Gore said. “We’re not going to cut back on anything. We’re going to keep operating.”
Several golf courses have closed in the past 13 months, largely citing financial struggles, including Wedgefield Plantation, Island Green Golf Club, Black Bear Golf Club and Brierwood Golf Club in Shallotte, N.C.
Heather Glen would be the most high-profile course among the recent closures.
Its green fees ranging from $50 to $135 depending on the season are in the middle to high end in the market, and in its heyday in the 1990s the course played 50,000 to 60,000 rounds per year.
“Golf is not what it used to be,” Gore said. “We’re playing half the rounds we did in the 1990s and it’s hard to make ends meet.”
Other courses that have closed since February 2014 include Waterway Hills Golf Links, Heron Point Golf Club, Wicked Stick Golf Links, Cypress Bay Golf Club and the nine-hole Carolinas Country Club, and many of those properties are being redeveloped.
Once with 120 courses stretching from Georgetown to Southport, N.C., the Grand Strand is now down to about 90 layouts. The number could decrease even more in the next few years.
With housing development on the rise on the Strand, national and regional homebuilders may again be looking for large tracts of land on which to build, and golf courses that are struggling to make a profit might become a willing target.
A similar new construction environment prior to the recession in the late 2000s led to the closing of 20 golf courses between 2005-07.
According to the rezoning request, Heather Glen is owned by the Vivian E. Vereen family trust. But with more than a decade remaining on The Glens Group’s lease on the property, the management company will be involved in the next phase for the property, according to one of its owners, Paul Himmelsbach.
“We’re part of the process,” Himmelsbach said. “We’ve made a mutual agreement with the landowner with where we were going in the business and how difficult it is in the golf business. We would be involved to a certain extent in whatever happened to it after the rezoning.
“… We would never give up the lease. Even though the course didn’t make the money it did years ago, it still made money.”
Himmelsbach said if the rezoning is approved and a sale takes place, the Vereen family will still retain some commercial property between the housing development and U.S. 17.
“We’re trying to do something that makes sense for the property owner and makes sense for us where we’re going with other holdings and where we’re going with Heather Glen,” Himmelsbach said.
Father-Son turns 20
The National Father & Son Team Classic presented by PGA Tour Superstore is hitting its 20th anniversary this week, as it will be played as part of Family Golf Week from Thursday through Saturday across the Grand Strand.
The Father-Son has attracted approximately 620 players from 42 states and five foreign countries.
Host courses this year include Wild Wing Plantation, Grande Dunes Resort Course, Barefoot Resort’s Fazio Course, Legends Resort’s Parkland Course, Prestwick Country Club, Rivers Edge Golf Links and Leopard’s Chase Golf Links at Ocean Ridge Plantation. The Parkland Course will host the top two flights in Saturday’s final round.
Teams play rounds with formats of captain’s choice, best ball and alternate shot. Bryan and Bryce Kendrick of Tennessee have won three of the past four titles, including the past two.
For the third year, Family Golf Week includes the Father & Daughter Team Classic and the Mother & Daughter Team Classic on Thursday and Friday.
The Father-Daughter event features 14 teams and the Mother-Daughter competition has just two teams, and those rounds will be played at Wachesaw Plantation East and Pine Lakes Country Club.
Legends Resort is the host facility and is hosting the awards banquet Saturday and the Family Affair on Thursday night that includes a demo alley and skills contests sponsored by Wilson Staff. Both events are catered by Logan’s Roadhouse.
The benefitting charity is the Veterans Golf Association.
Tournament director Brad “Greenie” Greenstein has had some more work to do in the weeks leading up to the tournament because tournament founder and owner Robert Harper, a longtime PGA professional in the area, moved to Summerville this summer to be a full-time pastor. Harper is on the Strand to assist in tournament operations this week.
A concert scheduled for this upcoming Monday that was going to benefit The First Tee of the Grand Strand youth development organization has been canceled due to a lack of ticket sales.
The Jam for Juniors at the House of Blues was going to be an acoustic show featuring Josh Kelley, Javier Colon, and Sister Hazel band members Ken Block and Drew Copeland. Tickets started at $35 and were being sold at the HOB and on the eventbrite.com website.
The concert was also the first event under the nonprofit Project Golf initiative created by marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. Project Golf is an effort to grow the game and increase participation locally and one of its focuses is on junior golf.
The concert was going to be a kickoff to The First Tee’s annual Future Generations Tournament at Caledonia Golf and Fish Club next Tuesday.
The four musicians were also expected to participate in the tournament, which will feature Golf Channel personalities Kelly Tilghman of North Myrtle Beach and Charlie Rymer of Fort Mill.
Golf Holiday expects to partner with the artists for another fundraising attempt as early as this fall.
“We knew we had an issue with the time frame. We had an idea and wanted to pair it up with the Future Generations Tournament and knew it was a bit of a risk. It’s tough to sell that in the summertime, especially on a Monday night,” Golf Holiday president Bill Golden said. “We’ll revisit with the House of Blues, whether it’s a concert or something else, but we’ll definitely have a fundraising event with those artists this fall.
“They’re committed to help us and we’re committed to bringing them in here.”