Golf

Arcadian Shores Golf Club prime for redevelopment? Not so fast

The back of the clubhouse being built at Arcadian Shores Golf Club.
The back of the clubhouse being built at Arcadian Shores Golf Club. ablondin@thesunnews.com

There has been speculation that the future of Arcadian Shores Golf Club is tenuous because of the perceived value of the land it occupies off Lake Arrowhead Road and across the street from posh Kingston Plantation, which stretches to the Atlantic Ocean.

That speculation increased with the expiration of a 38-year lease of the course in 2012 by Hilton Hotel Group from property owner Burroughs & Chapin Co.

It continued when B&C took over operation of the course shortly after management company National Golf Management sold nearly all of its golf assets to Founders Group International in April 2015. B&C once owned and operated numerous Grand Strand courses, but was left with Arcadian Shores and little else that was golf-related after FGI’s purchase.

It appears now might be a good time for a conversion or sale for alternative purposes.

But B&C is instead showing a commitment to Arcadian Shores, the first solo design by renowned golf course designer Rees Jones that opened in 1974.

The company has been building a new clubhouse at the course this fall and winter, and before the clubhouse is even completed, the course will be closing for about three months for further renovations.

The 6,857-yard course will close on May 17 for work that will include a changing of its greens to Sunday ultradwarf Bermudagrass and a much-needed repair and repaving of its cart paths.

“The company likes having a golf course,” Arcadian Shores general manager Frank Coughlin said. “The company wants to be part of the community and this golf course is such a great layout. I’m just happy there has been some TLC put back into the course. It’s set for the future.”

The company likes having a golf course. The company wants to be part of the community and this golf course is such a great layout. I’m just happy there has been some TLC put back into the course. It’s set for the future.

Arcadian Shores general manager Frank Coughlin

Coughlin said the targeted reopening date is Aug. 21. Progress will be considered in late July and the reopening date could be moved up or back accordingly. Six-year course superintendent Eric Covelli is overseeing the renovations.

Arcadian Shores’ cart paths have become bumpy and cracked because of tree roots, which will be smoothed out for the repaving. “It’s such a huge cost, but from a guest standpoint it’s necessary,” Coughlin said. “Plus it’s wear and tear on the golf carts and maintenance equipment.”

Irrigation around greens is being upgraded, and green collars are being replaced with Latitude Bermuda.

Arcadian Shores is one of the few courses in the area that has yet to convert to an ultradwarf Bermuda on greens. Other area courses that have recently installed Sunday Bermuda on greens are Rivers Edge Golf Club and Lockwood Folly Country Club, both in Brunswick County.

A beautification project will include the addition of flower beds and ornamental bushes and grasses near the clubhouse and on the course.

The on-course restrooms are essentially being rebuilt, new hole signs have been ordered, workers will edge bunkers, a new fleet of golf carts will be unveiled at the reopening, and a repaving of the parking lot is also being considered.

Hundreds of trees have been removed from Arcadian Shores in the past five years to improve playability and course conditions.

Arcadian Shores’ original 42-year-old clubhouse was in use until last April, when the pro shop and food and beverage staff moved into a trailer.

The new clubhouse is expected to be finished by the end of May. Its main floor is 3,814 square feet and will sit above a 4,438-square-foot cart storage area.

The right side of the clubhouse will contain a golf shop with a television, offices and storage area for equipment including the course’s 18 sets of rental clubs. The left side will feature an open-air kitchen with a grill and fryer with bartop seating both near the kitchen and across the room and table in between. A deck overlooking the driving range and 18th green will also have tables.

“We’re all really looking forward to getting into a new building and having some room,” Coughlin said, “especially one I think is as nice as that one.”

B&C willl be able to use the clubhouse for company meals, meetings and outings.

Mike Lutsky has been a teaching pro at Arcadian Shores since 2006, and he and Coughlin plan to build the Arcadian Shores Golf Academy and Learning Center by repurposing a small building near the range into one containing fitting and computer analysis equipment.

The improvements should allow Arcadian Shores’ green fees to increase, though Coughlin said the company will retain local rates.

Arcadian Shores is notable as Rees Jones’ first true solo work after he broke from the design firm of his father, Robert Trent Jones, whose designs include The Dunes Golf and Beach Club. Rees Jones toured his layout in 2012 to formulate a plan for restoration of the course with then course operator National Golf Management.

After being run by Hilton Hotel Group from its opening in 1974 to 2009, the management of Arcadian Shores changed several times in a few years.

B&C extended its lease with Hilton hotels for three years in 2009 but took over management of the course, and that management was transferred to National Golf Management in March 2012 when B&C Golf Management merged with Myrtle Beach National to form NGM.

After Founders Group International purchased most of the golf assets of NGM in April 2015, the course fell under the management of Strand Golf Management, a newly-created company that featured former NGM president and chief executive officer Bob Mauragas, who retained the titles with the new company.

By July 2015, B&C took management of Arcadian Shores back and Mauragas has since become the president of Greenville Turf & Tractor Inc., a John Deere dealership.

WF nearing sellout

We don’t know how the Wells Fargo Championship will play out this week in its one-year move to Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, N.C., but we do know that it will be well attended.

Tournament officials have announced that single grounds tickets for each day as well as practice packs for Monday through Wednesday are sold out.

With the sellout, there will be no ticket sales on-site at the main gate as previously planned. The Will Call location at the main entrance will be open to provide previously purchased tickets and for those picking up tickets left in their name.

The sellout is a reflection of the excitement that residents of the Wilmington area and even the Grand Strand have for a rare PGA Tour event in their locale.

Tournament director of communications Lee Patterson said Monday that spectator capacity has been set at 25,000 per day at Eagle Point compared to 35,000 at its customary home, Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, which is hosting the PGA Championship in August.

Eagle Point is more remotely located so parking and transportation to the course is more of an issue than at Quail Hollow, and the course has more marsh and wetlands so it is a bit less spectator-friendly.

A very limited amount of Weekly Grounds Booklets are available for $165 each, according to tournament officials. They are now the only tickets organizers are selling for daily access to the tournament, and the remaining booklets can be purchased at Dick’s Sporting Goods locations in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach, the tournament Will Call location at Mayfaire Town Center in Wilmington or at www.wellsfargochampionship.com.

The tournament features seven of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Ranking led by No. 1 and Coastal Carolina alumnus Dustin Johnson and including No. 11 Adam Scott, No. 12 Alex Noren, No. 13 Jon Rahm, No. 14 Paul Casey, No. 15 Patrick Reed and No. 20 Phil Mickelson.

About a dozen of the top 30 players on the current FedExCup Points list are in the field, including RBC Heritage champion and Columbia native Wesley Bryan and William McGirt of Boiling Springs, and there are 16 major champions including Johnson, Scott, Mickelson, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Zach Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell, Stewart Cink, Geoff Ogilvy, Angel Cabrera, Vijay Singh, Lucas Glover and Retief Goosen.

The four players who gained entry into the tournament through Monday’s qualifier at The Country Club of Landfall in Wilmington were Robby Shelton of Wilmer, Ala., with an 8-under 64, Blake Kennedy of Campobello with a 66, and Justin Lower of Charlotte and Brendon Todd of Watkinsville, Ga., each with a 68.

Derek Watson of Myrtle Beach shot a 76 and Patrick Lundy of Little River was registered but did not post a score.

Junior league expands

PGA Junior League Golf is expanding in its fourth year in the Myrtle Beach market.

The local league for players up to 13 years old is expected to start in mid-June and could increase to eight teams, which would be double the number that participated last year.

The league should add at least two teams to increase to six.

PGA Junior League Golf is unique in that it is a team golf competition. Teams must have a minimum of eight players and many will have up to 12. Nine-hole matches are played in a two-player modified scramble format and each team member is guaranteed participation in each match.

“Even one more team is a great thing,” said Joe Carbonell, who coaches a team based at River Oaks Golf Club. “Little League Golf has been necessary for a long time. It’s getting better. I love the expansion this year.”

River Oaks has two teams with a combined 23 players. The private Wachesaw Plantation expects to field two teams this year, The Dunes Golf and Beach Club will again have a team, and teams have been created at the Grande Dunes Resort Course and through Classic Swing Golf School at Legends Resort.

Darren deMaille, owner and director of the Double-D Golf Academy at Harbour View Golf in Little River, hopes to field a team but is still in need of more players.

Registration is generally between $200 and $300 in the Myrtle Beach area, and that generally includes a team uniform, eight matches and up to eight lesson sessions.

The league’s minimum is $75 for four matches, but instructors in the Myrtle Beach area unilaterally want to do more than the minimum.

“There aren’t many sports a kid can play where the coach is an actual professional in the sport,” said Chris Gaines, the player development and foundation operations manager for PGA Reach Carolinas, the philanthropic arm of the Carolinas PGA. “The goal for PGA Junior League Golf is make golf more accessible to kids who weren’t going to play the game. It’s a gentle way to come in and not have pressure to make the perfect swing. You go out with friends and have fun.”

The PGA of America initiative began in 2011 with teams in four cities and in 2016 it featured approximately 2,900 teams and 36,000 kids.

Juniors interested in playing on a Harbour View team can contact deMaille at 203-895-1133 or tenmindoctor@aol.com.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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