Golf

Closed Myrtle Beach area golf course sold, may reopen by spring

The golf course at Wedgefield Plantation Country Club in Georgetown could reopen as early as next spring.
The golf course at Wedgefield Plantation Country Club in Georgetown could reopen as early as next spring. The Sun News file photo

Wedgefield Plantation Country Club in Georgetown, which has been closed for more than a year, has been purchased and the golf course could reopen as early as next spring.

Harry Karetas, 74, the owner for the past 28 years of Terminal Storage in North Myrtle Beach, and his wife, Yvonne, closed on the purchase Thursday from Paramont Capital of Phoenix, Ariz., which foreclosed on the property late in 2016.

Karetas said Monday that his purchase includes about 175 acres and he hopes to lease out the golf course, Manor House restaurant and bar, and an Olympic-size swimming pool – possibly each through three separate agreements.

“I do have a gentleman interested in leasing the golf course already and have another party that’s interested in leasing the swimming pool,” Karetas said. “We’ll just take it step by step, patiently, and try to get all the moving parts working for the same goal, which is to make the place productive again and entertaining for the public.

“I’m very excited about the property. I’ll give it my best shot and we’ll go from there.”

Karetas said the potential golf course lessee indicated the course could reopen as early as the spring after things such as irrigation and drainage are checked and repaired or replaced if necessary.

“The course needs a little bit of upgrading,” Karetas said. “It looks presentable at the moment but it needs fine tuning. Hopefully we’ll have a grand opening sometime next spring.”

Wedgefield is a 7,034-yard Porter Gibson and Bob Toski design that opened in 1972. It includes several ponds and large live oak trees and has had a difficult financial past that includes several sales, bankruptcies and foreclosures.

Karetas has never owned a golf course. He was shown the property by friend Gary Roberts, the vice president of business development for Coldwell Banker Chicora Real Estate.

“I became intrigued by the property,” Karetas said. “It’a beautiful property and has a lot of history. The British were there back in the 1700s for God’s sake. It was an old rice plantation.

“It’s a shame it fell into disrepair, but it basically just needs a good cleaning up and refurbishing to some degree, but not a great deal.”

Wedgefield is zoned as a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that requires much of the property to remain green space. The course has about 370 homes around it, including 69 condos, according to Jacky Walton, president of the Wedgefield Plantation Association of homeowners.

Karetas said there are several acres of developable land included in his purchase, as well as four tennis courts, and he plans to utilize a guest cottage on the property as his weekend retreat.

The purchase price filed with the Georgetown County Registrar of Deeds is $650,000.

“I think I bought it for considerably less than the value,” Karetas said. “… I felt if for no other reason it has good real estate value. It has several nice buildings on the property. The trees alone are 400 years old.”

Karetas said he has met with representatives of the Wedgefield HOA. “We’re looking forward to working together for the benefit of everyone concerned,” he said.

Former owner Ray Watts, a real estate developer and owner of Apex Homes, closed the golf course last June citing a lack of play and poor financial performance. Paramont foreclosed late last year on a defaulted loan to Watts, who had renovated the Manor House.

Wyndham up next

On the heels of the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club, the PGA Tour remains in North Carolina this week with the 78th Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro.

The tournament received some late commitments last week that bolstered its field including world No. 9 Henrik Stenson of Sweden and world No. 24 Kevin Kisner of Aiken, who is ninth in 2017 FedExCup points.

They join four-time major winner Ernie Els, three-time Wyndham winner Davis Love III, 2011 Wyndham winner Webb Simpson, 2007 winner Brandt Snedeker, former FedExCup champions Bill Haas and Billy Horschel, former world No. 1 Luke Donald, and major championship winners Jason Dufner and Graeme McDowell.

Defending champion Si Woo Kim, Andrew “Beef” Johnston and 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup Team Captain Jim Furyk have all withdrawn due to injuries, and Snedeker is questionable to start with a rib injury.

The tournament provides the final opportunity for players to move into the top 125 in 2016-17 FedExCup points and qualify for the four-event FedExCup playoffs, which begin the following week.

McDowell is 131st in points, and all but one player – Michael Thompson – among those ranked 120 to 150 in points are entered in the field. Those ranked 120-130 are: Zac Blair, David Hearn, Richy Werenski, Seamus Power, Daniel Summerhays, Geoff Ogilvy, Cameron Tringale, Sam Saunders, Ryan Palmer, Billy Hurley III and J.T. Poston.

In a qualifier Monday at Bermuda Run Country Club, 2009 PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang, Jason Widener of Chapel Hill, N.C., Brad Miller of Maryland and 2005 Byron Nelson winner Ted Purdy of Phoenix qualified for the tournament.

Wyndham Championship tickets are available by calling the tournament office at 336-379-1570 or visiting www.WyndhamChampionship.com.

In the playoffs, the number of players in each event will be cut from 125 to 100, 70 and 30 for the Tour Championship.

Hands-on knowledge

A total of nine students, faculty and alumni from the Horry Georgetown Technical College Golf and Sports Turf Management Program worked on the grounds crew at this past week’s PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.

The HGTC team assisted Quail Hollow’s grounds crew in the daily maintenance of the course before, during and after tournament play and documented some of their experiences through the college’s Snapchat account, gohgtc.

The college attempts to provide its students with real-world educational experiences and consistently takes crews to large events including the Ryder Cup, Masters and Notre Dame vs. Navy football game.

“Being able to get the students some experience and be able to network, that’s what it’s all about,” said professor Charles Granger, who was among the nine working the PGA. “It’s about student engagement and it keeps us relevant. We’re able to give the latest and greatest from the best golf clubs in the country.”

HGTC offers the only two-year associate degree in Golf & Sports Turf Management in South Carolina and has more than 50 students enrolled in the program.

Granger and fellow professor Ashley Wilkinson, who are both HGTC alumni and former golf course superintendents, worked on the firmness and speeds of Quail Hollow’s new Champion ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens.

“It was an exciting week. What a great championship,” Granger said. “[PGA Chief Championships Officer Kerry Haigh and his team did a great job setting up the golf course.”

The HGTC crew worked seven days and often went to sleep after midnight and awoke at 3 a.m. “But that’s major championship golf,” Granger said.

The crew included students Michael Sisk and Colin Shannon, incoming freshman Easton Davis and recent graduate Russell Ambrose, who is Quail Hollow’s fellow and will gain insight into agronomy and the golf course management business through a fellowship program supported by the course and John Deere.

HGTC teams have worked the Wells Fargo Championship in the couple years Keith Wood has been Quail Hollow’s superintendent.

Three HGTC students will be working the upcoming PGA Tour playoff event the Dell Technologies Championship – formerly the Deutsche Bank – at TPC Boston and four will work the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Between Granger and Wilkinson, this year they have worked the PGA, four PGA Tour events and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club. In most instances they bring students with them.

Meadowlands turns 20

Meadowlands Golf Club is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a nine-hole tournament on Sept. 20 that includes lunch and hole in one prizes of $10,000 and a golf cart. The entry fee is $50 per person and a portion of proceeds will benefit Canine Angels, which rescues dogs from local shelters and trains them as service companions for military veterans.

The registration deadline is Sept. 10 and players can register by calling the pro shop at 910-287-7529 or the website www.meadowlandsgolf.com.

The 6,881-yard Willard Byrd design was a finalist for the 2017 Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association Golf Course of the Year, the criteria being design and course conditions, customer service, contribution to the game of golf and contribution to the community.

W.J. McLamb, 85, built the course on the property adjacent to the farm on which he grew up. Among its accolades, Golf for Women Magazine named Meadowlands to its Top 100 Best Courses for Women list.

Meadowlands supports many grow the game programs, and have donated about 8 acres to the First Tee of Brunswick County under a no-pay rent agreement to assist with its programs.

Fall programs unveiled

The First Tee of the Grand Strand is rolling out its fall programs and is accepting applications for both participants and volunteers at www.TheFirstTeeTheGrandStrand.com.

Beginning Sept. 11, eight-week After School Programs for ages 7 and up will be conducted at Willbrook Plantation (Mondays), Wachesaw Plantation (Tuesdays), Cane Patch Par 3 (Wednesdays), Legends (Thursdays), The Hackler Course and Crown Park (Friday), and Eagle Nest (Saturday afternoon). The program fee is $40 and fitted loaner clubs are provided for those who need a starter set. A program for advanced players is also being set up.

The organization is seeking volunteers for the spring and fall School Day Program with Georgetown County Schools fourth-graders that will impact approximately 650 students.

The School Day program runs five weeks from Sept. 12-14 through Oct. 3-5, with two morning sessions running from 8-10 and 10-noon.

Program director Patrick O’Brien and program lead coaches will conduct orientation and two-hour training sessions during August and September for new volunteers. Visit the website, First Tee Facebook page or contact O’Brien at 843-467-3020 or patrick@TheFirstTeeTheGrandStrand.org.

The final Summer Series Play Day at Harbor View Par 3 in Little River is at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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