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Investors from China add Tradition and Wild Wing to golf course collection

Flags fly outside of the Wild Wing club house on Monday. The course and land has been recently sold.
Flags fly outside of the Wild Wing club house on Monday. The course and land has been recently sold. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

An investment group from China that has established itself locally as Founders Group International has purchased two more golf courses in the past week, bringing its total on the Grand Strand to 10.

The 18-hole Tradition Golf Club in Pawleys Island and 27-hole Wild Wing Plantation near the Myrtle Beach-Conway border on U.S. 501 North have been added to the group’s growing collection of area layouts.

The buyer is Yiqian Funding, which is represented by New York City immigration attorney Nick Dou and Daniel Liu of the parent company in China, who has a wedding scheduled next week at Pine Lakes Country Club.

More purchases are possible in the coming days as the group continues to negotiate with area course owners.

For the first time in a purchase, a significant amount of additional property around one of the courses is part of a sale.

According to Horry County sales records, the Wild Wing property includes 241 undeveloped acres and an additional 198 lots, and sold for $19 million. Tradition Club sold for $3 million, according to Georgetown County records.

In previous purchases, Dou said that the only additional property around a golf course included in a sale was about 20 acres around International World Tour Golf Links. The group may try to redevelop that parcel, possibly with high-end condos that will go along with existing condos built in recent years around the course.

Dou said Monday the group wasn’t sure if it will sell the lots undeveloped or contract to build homes and sell the homes. “If we build a house we will sell to people from China, maybe for the local people,” Dou said. “If we sell to people from China, they will buy a house, pay taxes, shop here, it will be good for the local economy.”

Regarding the 241 acres, he said development is likely. “We will see. We have a little time to think about this right now,” Dou said. “We probably will develop it but not now. Later.”

In addition to Wild Wing and Tradition, Founders Group International also owns and operates World Tour, TPC Myrtle Beach, Founders Club at Pawleys Island, Indian Wells Golf Club, Burning Ridge Golf Club, River Hills Golf & Country Club, Aberdeen Country Club and Colonial Charters Golf Club.

Overall, investors from China have purchased 15 Strand courses since June 2013. Sea Trail Resort – which includes three courses – as well as Crown Park Golf Club and Black Bear Golf Club are each owned by different Chinese groups or individuals.

Wild Wing and Tradition were independently owned by different investor groups and have both been managed by National Golf Management in recent years.

The additional property around Wild Wing is generally the result of the contraction of the golf course property in 2006 from 72 holes to 27 holes consisting of the Avocet Course and nine holes of the redesigned Hummingbird Course. The closures were to open the property to redevelopment.

The Avocet Course is a 7,127-yard par-72 Larry Nelson and Jeff Brauer design that opened in 1993.

Wild Wing was part of a massive purchase in December 2010 of 7,390 acres in the Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island areas by the locally-based SB Investment/Development and its partner in the purchase, Stratford Land based in Dallas.

Local partners in Wild Wing included Gilford Edwards and Ralph Teal, a co-manager of SB Investments who represented the ownership group in last week’s sale.

Like Founders Group’s other courses, Wild Wing and Tradition are expected to remain in operation indefinitely with the existing staffs retained.

Tradition Club general manager and superintendent Clay DuBose said his course is on a conservation easement so it can’t be developed.

“Myself and the staff here, and our membership, are very excited about the new ownership,” DuBose said. “We are very welcoming to this new money in Myrtle Beach. I really think Myrtle Beach needs this. I think it has been needed for a long time.

“… They said they were looking to bring Chinese people over here for weeks at a time for golf packages and they’re here to stay.”

Tradition Club was owned by local businessmen Lee Guy, Don Leonard and Roger Grigg, who is president of The Dunes Golf and Beach Club.

The names of the companies that purchased Wild Wing and Tradition Club are Founders Wild Wing LLC and Founders Tradition LLC, which were established with the S.C. Secretary of State in February, both with Black Bear Golf Club owner Kang Zou listed as the registered agent. Zou is not part of Yiqian Funding, according to Dou.

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

The Sun News business reporter Steve Jones contributed to this article.

Green fees

Investors from China have purchased 15 Grand Strand golf courses since June 2013 (with registered sales prices)

▪ Wild Wing Plantation (and affiliated property): $19 million

▪ International World Tour Golf Links: $10 million

▪ Sea Trail Resort’s Maples, Jones and Byrd courses (and affiliated property): $8.5 million

▪ TPC Myrtle Beach: $7.3 million

▪ Indian Wells Golf Club: $4.75 million

▪ Burning Ridge Golf Club: $3.75 million

▪ Aberdeen Country Club: $3.3 million.

▪ Tradition Golf Club: $3 million

▪ River Hills Golf & Country Club: $2.45 million

▪ Founders Club at Pawleys Island: $2.2 million

▪ Crown Park Golf Club: $1.5 million

▪ Black Bear Golf Club: $1.5 million

▪ Colonial Charters Golf Club: $1.3 million

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