Diamond Back at Woodland Valley Country Club in Loris has a new operator that has hired an expanding East Coast Golf Management company to manage the course.
Real estate entrepreneur Chris Manning of Manning Realty is a lead investor in a group that is leasing the course with an option to buy from course owner Lee Rawcliffe. Manning Realty is already handling the marketing and sale of lots and homes around the course.
“One of [Manning Realty’s] investment groups has leased the golf course long-term with an option to buy and hired us to go in there and manage it with an effort to spur real estate sales in the development,” said East Coast Golf Management president Mike Buccerone, whose company took over management Saturday.
Rawcliffe, an owner of Sands Resorts, has been contemplating the future of the course. “I’m trying to slow down,” Rawcliffe said while on vacation in Alaska. “I’m 66 now and trying to have a little more free time.”
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The addition of Diamond Back gives East Coast the management of six courses, including four on the Grand Strand. The four-year-old company also manages Rivers Edge Golf Club, Indigo Creek Golf Club, Azalea Sands Golf Club, King’s Grant Golf & Country Club in Fayetteville, N.C., and the private Balsam Mountain Preserve in Sylva, N.C., outside Asheville.
East Coast also has a marketing cooperative that includes more than 20 Strand courses. The company was created by Buccerone and fellow Signature Golf Group executive Chuck Hutchison when Signature disbanded in 2011. Diamond Back had been managed by Signature and subsequently joined East Coast’s marketing coop.
“With Diamond Back being part of the marketing cooperative the past couple years, it became a good fit for them to go 100 percent in with the management with the real estate going on now,” Buccerone said.
Diamond Back is a 6,907-yard Russell Breeden design that opened in 1999. It has moderately-priced green fees and features a layout that goes deep into the trees and nature off S.C. 9 on the east side of Loris.
Buccerone said he plans to reconnect Diamond Back with the internal infrastructure of the Myrtle Beach golf market, including the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association, Grand Strand Tee Time Network and golf package providers. Diamond Back will also be part of East Coast’s multi-course Platinum Membership.
“All that will assist with driving rounds to the property,” Buccerone said. “It will make it more seamless for the providers. Right now it’s difficult for them to book Diamond Back. … We just need to reintroduce Diamond Back to the Myrtle Beach community and get everybody feeling good about it.”
Head pro Tim Fisher has remained at Diamond Back, though general manager/superintendent Tom Haddock has left for a position with Sands Resorts. Staff from other properties is assisting with maintenance for the time being.
Buccerone said East Coast is still in expansion mode and is actively in discussions to add up to four more courses in the Carolinas, though none are on the Strand. “I think we have a great core group here at the beach, and we’re still doing some proactive things to drive more rounds to our courses,” Buccerone said.
Manning and East Coast are also partners at Balsam Mountain, a spectacular 10-year-old Arnold Palmer signature mountain layout. Manning purchased the course earlier this summer and hired East Coast to manage it.
Planned initiatives at Balsam Mountain include a new clubhouse and the building of cottages and townhomes to go along with upscale single-family homes on mountainsides. The property also features an equestrian facility, family sports camp, restaurant and lodge, and more than 30 miles of trails.
East Coast Golf Management’s six courses
Indigo Creek Golf Club, Murrells Inlet
Azalea Sands Golf Club, North Myrtle Beach
Diamond Back at Woodland Valley, Loris
Rivers Edge Golf Club, Shallotte, N.C.
King’s Grant Golf & Country Club, Fayetteville, N.C.
Balsam Mountain Preserve, Sylva, N.C.