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Grand Strand golf courses are already reopening in the wake of Hurricane Dorian

Myrtlewood’s Palmetto Course reopening after renovations

Myrtlewood Golf Club’s Palmetto Course is shceduled to reopen on Sept. 20 following a renovation project that included changing greens to Sunday ultradwarf Bermuda, reestablishing the original size of greens and rebuilding bunkers.
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Myrtlewood Golf Club’s Palmetto Course is shceduled to reopen on Sept. 20 following a renovation project that included changing greens to Sunday ultradwarf Bermuda, reestablishing the original size of greens and rebuilding bunkers.

Hurricane Dorian did not keep the Myrtle Beach golf market shut down for long.

Just a few hours after the Category 2 storm’s final bands of wind and rain whipped through the Grand Strand, at least seven 18-hole courses and nine holes of another layout reopened on Friday.

More than 40 courses are expected to reopen on Saturday, at least another 10 courses are expected to reopen on Sunday, and by Monday nearly all of the market’s approximate 80 public courses will be open.

Courses that reopened Friday include Barefoot Resort’s Love Course, Legends Golf Resort’s Heathland Course, Diamondback Golf Club, Carolina Shores Golf & Country Club, Mystical Golf’s three layouts – The Witch, The Wizard and Man O’ War Golf Club – and nine holes at River Oaks Golf Club.

River Oaks and the Mystical Golf courses were open Wednesday as the storm was approaching, so a few courses in the market managed to lose just one day to Dorian.

Most courses got through the hurricane with minimal damage, though two of several tornadoes that touched down on the north end of the Strand caused damage at Crow Creek Golf Club and River Hills Golf & Country Club.

The tornado at Crow Creek on the Carolinas border knocked down more than a couple dozen trees along holes including the par-4 11th, par-5 12th and par-4 14th holes, according to Crow Creek director of golf Mike Benson, who plans to reopen the course on Wednesday after the felled trees are removed.

“There’s a little cleanup to get done but other than that we’re okay. We got very lucky,” said Benson, who received help from nearly the entire course staff cleaning up on Friday. “There was no damage really to any homes on the property. We have a ton of tree damage, a bunch of large trees are down, but the golf course was spared. Nothing fell in a spot that we couldn’t fix.

“The trees that are down, they don’t change the look of the holes. None are integral to the golf course.”

The tornado did serious damage to houses in The Farm residential development across the street from Crow Creek’s front entrance, which is also close to Carolina Shores Golf & Country Club. But that course reopened at 8 a.m. Friday with just minimal debris to clean up.

“We didn’t have any damage on the golf course at all. We were lucky,” Carolina Shores general manager Philippe Bureau said. “All hurricanes are bad but this one for us was okay.”

At River Hills in Little River, about a couple dozen trees were knocked down around holes 5, 8 and 16. “That’s the worst of our tree damage,” said Max Morgan, director of agronomy for Founders Group International who added that all of FGI’s 22 Strand courses will be open by Monday.

Trees were snapped in the housing develop at River Hills Golf & Country Club in Little River after reports of a tornado on Thursday. As Hurricane Dorian approached North Myrtle Beach on Thursday reported tornados damaged buildings and a lashing rain brought flash flooding to area roads. Thursday Sept. 05, 2019. Jason Lee

Dorian’s eye remaining off the coast and not making landfall until it passed the Grand Strand spared area golf courses the amount of damage and cleanup they experienced with hurricanes Matthew and Florence over the previous three years.

“We feel very fortunate. This was less cleanup and less debris and tree issues than the last couple that have come through here close to us,” said Barefoot Resort general manager Dave Genevro, who expects to have all four of his courses open on Saturday.

A heavy amount of rain has likely caused the most issues for courses. Genevro said the Barefoot property endured about 12 inches over about 36 hours and bunkers need to be restored, but the work can take place while the courses are open.

“It will take us into the beginning of next week to get bunkers pushed up and clean, and we have a few that we’ll have to do a little more work on,” Genevro said.

The storm came through at a time when Strand golf courses are traditionally not that busy, so the loss of revenue will be minimal. “The amount of play the week after Labor Day is not extensive,” Genevro said.

Follow more of our reporting on Hurricane Dorian

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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.