Brierwood Golf Club is celebrating 50 years in 2017, and the golden anniversary might be its last.
Owner Kevin Blum is closing the Shallotte, N.C., course at the close of business Wednesday because he said it isn’t playing enough rounds to be profitable.
“It really comes down to I can’t afford to continue operating the golf course like this. There aren’t enough rounds and I don’t have enough money. It’s simple mathematics there,” said Blum, who bought the course in July 2014. “It’s sad. It hurts me because a lot of people have been here a lot longer than I have – employees, members and residents.”
Blum said he has 15 employees.
Blum was a real estate investor working largely in Arizona when he began looking for property on the Carolinas coast with friend and real estate broker Chris Sprow, and he found Brierwood.
He purchased the 6,643-yard course and some adjacent property totaling more than 160 acres from the family of late Dr. Ben Ward, who is the original course developer and is credited with the design.
The course opened in 1967, making it one of the 10 oldest 18-hole courses on the Grand Strand, and includes a grand 10,000-square-foot three-story clubhouse that houses Charlie’s Grill, named after a large alligator that inhabits the pond below.
The restaurant is also scheduled to close, though Blum said there has been interest in a third party leasing it.
In addition, he said the town of Shallotte has expressed some interest in purchasing the layout for use as a municipal course, though Blum said parts of the course are in unincorporated Brunswick County.
Blum said he put the course on the market for $1.5 million six months ago but didn’t receive any credible offers. Sprow, who served as the property's director of marketing, sales and real estate for a short time before moving back to Arizona, said in 2014 the course was purchased for approximately $1.25 million.
“I think at this point I’ll keep the property as a long-term investment,” Blum said. “It doesn’t make sense to just sell the property. I think it’s a cool property … and it has a lot of potential even if it’s not a golf course. The possibilities are endless.”
Blum’s property includes six remaining undeveloped lots, two acres that featured tennis courts, and a house the he built and has been renting through Airbnb.
He said the course is zoned for housing and he has identified areas with easy road access that aren’t heavily populated with existing housing to potentially develop.
He said he initially planned to build the golf course business back up, add to the 70 members the course had and build on some of the land. He has considered a hotel, cottages, a bed and breakfast and RV Park, and added a plan to add a driving range and shorten the course to turn it into more of an executive course.
“There aren’t too many golf courses that make it just as golf courses. There has to be something else,” Blum said. “We tried to make it a community course but the community support wasn’t enough. There are a lot of locals that come here but it’s not enough.”
Blum made some improvements to the course and the clubhouse, and made the clubhouse a mini art museum primarily featuring the work of artist Tommy Davis, a co-owner of Collector's Café and Gallery in Myrtle Beach.
Blum said his alternative ideas haven’t been well received by community members or city and Brunswick County officials, so he hasn’t spent the money to formulate and submit formal proposals.
He hasn’t ruled out reopening the golf course some day in an altered form.
“If some of these changes can take place over the next five years there’s light at the end of the tunnel for it to reopen as a beach, executive course,” Blum said. “It’s kind of a bummer because I had pretty big goals for this place and thought it would be attainable. I feel I would make good on my plans but I need the community support.”
Blum and head pro Joey Godley are attempting to sell all merchandise and golf equipment in the clubhouse, as well as maintenance equipment, over the next couple days.
The course’s 40 golf carts are being converted with body kits into classic Ford and Chevy car and truck replicas from past decades and are being sold through Brierwood Custom Carts at 252-764-1982.
Blum spent two full years living in Shallotte but now plans to be back and forth between Shallotte and his primary residence in Oregon.
Range of appreciation
The driving range at River Oaks Golf Club has been renovated and now honors veterans and active members of the U.S. armed services.
The driving range has been named The American Veterans Memorial Driving Range and there was a ceremony on Armed Forces Day last Saturday as part of a fundraising tournament for The Folds of Honor Foundation.
The driving range includes a Heroes Honor Memorial and a new Wounded Warrior Wheelchair Ramp that has brick boundaries lined by flowers and small American flags. The 12-foot high memorial features flowers in a range basket with combat boots at its base, and a list of 52 names of servicemen.
The names include some Medal of Honor recipients, participants in World War II and Iraqi Freedom, and soldiers whose stories have been shared.
Joe Carbonnel, director of the Golf School of Myrtle Beach and director of development for the Myrtle Beach Junior Golf Foundation that are based at River Oaks, said he has heard from some of the soldiers listed, expressing appreciation for their inclusion.
River Oaks hosts several annual military-related charity events, including the Folds of Honor and Special Operations Wounded Warriors.
The memorial and ramp are part of the improvements made to the range over the past few months. The Bermudagrass turf has been improved and targets have been added from 50 to 250 yards.
By July, Carbonnel said the school’s driving range area will be covered with a 24-foot wide by 14-foot tall hitting tent and a row of mats in addition to a natural grass hitting area that can accommodate up to 15 people.
Matthew Griego of North Myrtle Beach won the Boys 16-18 division Sunday of the South Carolina Optimist Junior Golf District Qualifier at the General Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina with a score of 9-over 77-76–153 to advance to the international final.
The 2017 Optimist International Junior Golf Championship will be played at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., from mid-July to early August, with different age and gender groups playing at different times.
To qualify for the Florida event, players had to finish among the top two in their age group and shoot a requisite score that ranged from 156 to 194 depending on the division.
Also qualifying were Victoria Lucarelli of Moncks Corner with a 85-84–169 in the Girls 16-18 division, Harrison Devers with an 83-82–165 in the Boys 14-15 division, both Walker Jennings of Greenville with a 75-79–154 and Jay Lowder of Greenville with a 83-78–161 in the Boys 12-13 division, and both William Jennings of Greenville with a 75-72–147 and Clayton Taylor of Spartanburg with a 74-81–155 in the Boys 10-11 division. Twelve players participated in the qualifier.
The South Carolina Optimist District will cover entry fee and travel expenses for Griego and Lucarelli, and will attempt to assist other players with expenses.
Want Masters tickets?
Would you like tickets to the 2018 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club?
It’s easy to apply. Not so easy to get tickets, however.
The deadline to enter the Masters ticket lottery is Thursday at the web address tickets.masters.com. Only online applications are being accepted.
Applicants must be 21 years old, only one application per person or address will be accepted, and primary home addresses must be used.
Up to four tickets can be requested for any and all days of the tournament, though winners will receive tickets for only one day.
Daily tournament tickets for competitive rounds Thursday through Sunday will be awarded first, and anyone not selected for those who also applied for practice rounds tickets from Monday through Wednesday will then be included in the selection for practice rounds tickets.
Tickets are $115 daily for competitive rounds and $75 daily for practice rounds. Competitive round tickets are very limited because those on a patron list annually receive four-day competitive round badges.
All applicants will be notified by email in late June when the lottery is completed.
HOF seeks nominations
The board of directors for the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame is accepting nominations for the class of 2017 through Friday.
Nominations will only be accepted from a person who has a direct affiliation with the Myrtle Beach golf industry. All nominations must be forwarded to Jenna Hottel of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. She can be reached at 843-477-8833 ext. 237 or Jenna@GolfHoliday.com.
The 21 existing members of the Hall of Fame are Kelly Tilghman, Edward Burroughs, General James Hackler, Cecil Brandon, Clay Brittain, Jimmy D’Angelo, Robert White, George 'Buster' Bryan, Charlie Byers, Paul Himmelsbach, Gary Schaal, J. Bryan Floyd, Edward Jerdon, Casper Leon Benton, George Hilliard, Critt Gore, Russell 'Doc' Burgess, Phillip Goings and Sandy Miles.