Golf

One of the oldest courses in Myrtle Beach golf market under contract to home builder

Conway Golf Club’s days as a golf course and country club appear to be numbered.

The course is under contract to housing developer Beverly Homes, according to business owner Randy Beverly, and is slated to become a housing development if the contract reaches a closing.

The nine-hole course that includes a pool and pair of tennis courts is one of the oldest golf courses on the Grand Strand and was for decades a vibrant part of the social life in Conway.

“We have come to terms with them, but there’s a long time to getting an offer accepted and closing,” said Beverly of Conway. “ It’s in the attorneys’ hands now.”

Beverly said he intends to redevelop the property into a single-family residential development, though he doesn’t have a specific plan in place at this stage in the process. The nearly 70-acre property would presumably accommodate up to 200 homes.

Conway Golf Club is the third-oldest course on the Strand, behind Pine Lakes Country Club and The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, with development beginning in 1937 and incorporation in the early 1950s, according to club records.

The course was built, thrived and was sustained over decades by shareholders, of whom there are believed to be hundreds in the Conway area. Many have learned of the pending sale and are wondering if they will receive a piece of the proceeds.

Nigel Horonzy of Berkshire Hathaway Myrtle Beach Real Estate, who listed the property for $2.6 million, believes each shareholder will receive their proportionate share of the sale’s profit.

“Everybody’s going to get their fair share, that is my understanding,” said Horonzy, who confirmed the course is under contract.

The club’s small board of directors put the course up for sale.

Several attempts by The Sun News to reach club president Chet Long or other shareholders over more than a week were unsuccessful.

A pair of letters posted in the pro shop state that the course will remain open for the time being, and direct any shareholders to visit conwaygolfclub.com for more information and to update their contact information.

Beverly, 68, is a shareholder himself, having purchased a share of stock for $200 around 1975. Shares generally sold for between $200 and $600 throughout the years, according to several shareholders.

“Shares were worth whatever the initiation fee was. If it went to $500 that’s what the stock was worth,” Beverly said. “The initiation fee [in 1975] was $200 or find someone who had a share of stock for $200, so I bought a share of stock from J.P. McAlpine and I was a member.

“Nobody bought stock because they were looking for dividends, most did because they wanted to invest in the golf course or join without paying an initiation fee.”

Many shares will likely go unclaimed or unsubstantiated because of the many decades they have been sold. Beverly said when his father-in-law, Cator Floyd, died, he likely owned dozens of shares and he doesn’t believe any shares were passed on to other family members.

Beverly would not disclose his offer but said he is “willing to pay a fair market value for it. I can assure you it’s a lot of money to me. I think we’ll be good stewards of the golf course. I have a vested interest. That’s home for me. My son lives straight across the street from it. I think we’d be good stewards of the golf course compared to some of the national builders.”

In 2012, volunteers, led by then volunteer general manager Mike Hardee, a retired Lance snack food salesman who purchased a share of stock in 1985, revived the course with renovations and increased maintenance.

They helped fend off a foreclosure by Conway National Bank, which reportedly loaned the course approximately $300,000 for a renovation many years prior, with the sale of shares and fundraising.

The bank filed a foreclosure against the course in June 2012, but it was dismissed later that year, according to court records and Lynette Rogers Hedgepath, the attorney who represented the bank in the case. The full lien was not settled with the dismissal, however, she said.

The course’s driving range was sold to a developer in recent years to help the club stay afloat.

Hardee said there were approximately 600 outstanding shares in 2011, and another 600 were made available during the fundraising in 2012, with at least 200 being sold.

Conway Golf Club has a long history. It was once the home to several good players and a thriving social scene.

Longtime area head pro Gene McCaskill, who is now at Whispering Pines Golf Club, grew up on the course. “We’d go out there and putt for quarters underneath the street lights when we were 15 or 16. That was our idea of fun,” McCaskill said.

The course produced six players on the same Coastal Carolina University golf team in the 1970s, including McCaskill. The players honed their games on the range, fetching their own balls with a shag bag.

The Conway High golf team also had quite the home-course advantage under coach Ben Onley at Conway Golf Club during McCaskill’s years on the team from 1970-73. He says the Tigers went undefeated at home his junior and senior years.

“Coach got the cheerleaders to come out and caddie for us,” McCaskill recalls. “We all knew them and knew they had boyfriends and all, but they were pretty girls with shorts, and [opponents] weren’t interested in golf anymore. They wanted to talk to our girls.”

The club thrived for some time. “It was kind of the place to be,” McCaskill said. “You could do business there.”

But there are too many people in Conway who used to play the course, like Beverly, who in the 1970s and ’80s regularly played on Wednesdays and weekends but hasn’t played there in a couple decades.

“Back in the 1970s and early ’80s that was the big social place,” Beverly said. “You’d walk up and grab a beer on a Wednesday afternoon, and within 15 minutes three or four of your buddies would be there and you’d go play a round of golf.

“But it has struggled for the past 15 years, for sure.”

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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