The decision by Arnold Palmer Golf Management to redo the greens on the Moorland Course at Legends Resort brings the total number of Grand Strand public-access courses closing at least nine holes this summer to repair winterkill damage to at least 12.
The Moorland Course closed on Monday and is expected to reopen between Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 with new Champion ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens.
The course had TifEagle Bermuda greens, and the Champion is on Legends’ Heathland Course, which came through the tough winter in much better shape.
"Instead of putting a Band-Aid on the course and sodding areas of the six or seven greens that needed it . . . we kind of bit the bullet,” said Bradley Vaughan, the sales and marketing manager for Arnold Palmer Golf Management’s five Strand courses. “We were probably going to have to redo the greens in the next five or six years so we decided to go ahead and knock it out of the park.”
Vaughan said the company is having to move approximately 4,400 scheduled rounds on the Moorland Course this summer to its other four courses in the market – Oyster Bay Golf Links, Heritage Club and Legends’ Heathland and Parkland courses.
The Heathland and Parkland courses will host the PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com World Amateur Handicap Championship rounds that were scheduled for Moorland, a P.B. Dye design that opened in 1990.
Vaughan said the company is considering getting green covers to protect many of the Legends’ greens from extreme cold.
In addition to Moorland, Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Links, Tradition Club, Myrtlewood Golf Club’s PineHills Course, Indigo Creek Golf Club, International Club of Myrtle Beach, Diamondback Golf Club and Panther's Run Golf Links have all closed or are scheduled to close this month to redo all of their greens.
Long Bay Club is closed for an anticipated three weeks to allow its greens to recover, Lion's Paw Golf Links has already replaced 10 greens, and the 27-hole Aberdeen Country Club is expected to be shut down for at least another couple weeks as seven greens on the Woodlands and Meadows nines are replanted with sprigs. Aberdeen's Highlands nine is closed to allow its greens to recover and should reopen later this summer.
In addition, the Bay nine holes at the 27-hole Sandpiper Bay Golf & Country Club is closed for green renovations.
It’s believed the widespread winterkill – a term used to describe grass that is damaged or killed by harsh winter conditions – was caused by an ice storm and several consecutive days of below-freezing weather in early January, along with frosts in March following a warm February.
Though it hasn’t closed, Oak Island Golf Club sodded 11 greens three weeks ago and is using 11 temporary greens with larger cups while the new greens grow in. The sod was TifEagle Bermuda to match the course’s other seven greens.
Oak Island head pro Steve Isley said green fees have been discounted but play is still down about 70 percent, which is particularly penalizing considering summer is the course’s peak season with vacationers on the island. Spring and fall are the peak seasons for most courses in Georgetown, Horry and Brunswick counties.
“We weren’t going to go through the summer with bad greens so we bit the bullet and redid them. They’re coming in great,” said Isley, who hopes to have all of the greens reopened by mid-July to salvage some of the summer. “It’s going to take its toll . . . though we have our set groups that are going to play us no matter what, even in the bad times.”
The club, which features a classic par 72 George Cobb design that opened in 1962, is also building a new clubhouse after tearing the old clubhouse down in December. The one-story clubhouse will again overlook the ocean, practice putting green and parking lot. The temporary clubhouse is still equipped with a bar and grill.
Oak Island Golf Club may take another hit in October when the bridge to the island from Southport is closing for repairs, which Isley said will change the drive from Southport from three miles to approximately 20 miles.
Five current members and another 10 past members of the Grand Strand-based Sunbelt Senior Tour have qualified for this week’s U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor Club’s East Course in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The five current members are Guy Boros, Tim Conley, John Elliott, Scott Pieri and Tom Werkmeister.
The past members are Don Bell, Paul Broadhurst, Clark Dennis, Marco Dawson, Jack Ferenz, Bobby Gage, Kent Jones, Barry Lane, Sonny Skinner and Tommy Stankowski.
The Sunbelt Tour is in its 23rd season and is owned and operated by Don Barnes of Longs.
It will be on the Grand Strand in September and October for a pair of events. The 16th South Carolina Senior Open is scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Long Bay Club in Longs, and the Sea Haven Match Play Championship is scheduled for Oct. 1-3 at the Surf Golf and Beach Club.
The next Sunbelt Tour event is the Seneca Cup at Hickory Stick Golf Club near Niagara Falls, N.Y. from July 14-16.