Myrtle Beach airport looks to buy former golf property. What are the possibilities?

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Myrtle Beach International Airport, which is owned by Horry County, is looking to buy the former Midway Par 3 golf course.

The proposed purchase is not for entertainment, but to stay up-to-date with Federal Aviation Administration recommendations, said Kirk Lovell, Director of Air Service and Business Development for Horry County Department of Airports.

Returning the land to a golf facility featuring programs that benefit the community is among the possibilities once it is purchased.

Located on Highway 17 Business, Midway Par 3 is directly across from the airport to the east. The 18-hole, 40-acre course closed in 2017 and is owned by the Burroughs & Chapin Company.

The FAA wants airports to own land both in front of and behind runways to give more of a safety buffer for planes taking off and landing. The area is called the “runway protection zone.”

According to FAA airport design recommendations, owning the land surrounding the airport can reduce the risk of animals and people interfering with the runways and making landings and takeoffs more dangerous.

Lovell said the airport owns land to its west to the Intracoastal Waterway, and that remains intentionally undeveloped.

If purchased, use of the land is limited, per FAA recommendations. There cannot be homes, churches, shopping centers or any other major structures built on the property.

The Golf Tourism Solutions marketing and technology agency that promotes the Myrtle Beach market expressed interest in the property after Midway closed, to the extent of having engineers draw up design proposals for its use.

GTS is now interested in partnering with the county to make Midway a home for its nonprofit Project Golf grow the game initiative. Project Golf’s first program began this week and is for beginning adults, and future programs are planned for juniors and disabled veterans.

Golf Tourism Solutions Chief Executive Officer Bill Golden said Monday that GTS has had “preliminary discussions” with county officials, who are aware GTS will prepare a proposal.

“We see an opportunity there with Project Golf to use that property to support game development,” Golden said. “All of Project Golf’s initiatives could fit and be fulfilled at Midway given some changes to the property.”

The Project Golf facility would likely involve The First Tee youth golf and development organization and include indoor hitting bays and a driving range that could be used for instruction. Other golf-related organizations would be candidates to also use the facility.

“As we’re looking at that property and waiting for the process to run its course on the county side, we’re trying to see what type of partnerships we can put together there,” Golden said. “What we’re looking at now is to propose a project that is supported by the community for the community. … It could be a perfect extension of our current Project Golf programming.”

Golden said GTS would hope for a long-term lease. “If we’re going to make investments in that property, we would like some long-term security relating to the length of the lease,” Golden said.

Lovell said the property could either remain a golf course or be turned into a parking lot, but there are no concrete plans.

While the airport is a part of Horry County Government, the money for the purchase will come from the airport’s own coffers or through FAA funding programs, Horry County Spokesperson Kelly Moore said.

“In anticipation of future funding from the Federal Airport Improvement Program or Passenger Facility Charge funds, the airport plans to purchase the property, primarily for the protection of our runway protection zone,” Moore said.

Lovell does not have a time frame for the closing of the Midway Par 3 purchase.

Burroughs & Chapin did not respond to requests for comment.

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Development and Horry County reporter Tyler Fleming joined The Sun News in May of 2018. He covers other stuff too, like reporting on beer, bears, breaking news and Coastal Carolina University. He graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 and was the 2017-18 editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. He has won (and lost) several college journalism awards.
Alan Blondin covers golf, Coastal Carolina athletics and numerous other sports-related topics that warrant coverage. Well-versed in all things Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the Grand Strand, the Northeastern University journalism school valedictorian has been a sports reporter at The Sun News since 1993, earning eight top-10 Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards and 18 top-three S.C. Press Association writing awards since 2007.