Golf course operators on the Grand Strand are hoping their businesses don’t take another big financial hit from Hurricane Florence.
Over the past three years, golf courses have been impacted by historical rain and flooding in October 2015, Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and harsh winter conditions early this year that caused winterkill damage to grasses.
“Hopefully, it won’t be a huge event for us,” said Steve Mays, president of Founders Group International, which owns and operates 22 Grand Strand courses. “We’re hoping we don’t have the same impact Matthew had or the rains had in 2015. Now it’s just a waiting game to see what happens over the next two days.
“This year has already been a difficult year in terms of weather for golf courses. We’re hoping we get some luck this time around.”
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Myrtle Beach golf market layouts in Brunswick County were projected to be near the eye of the storm at landfall, and all courses in the market are expected to receive between 10 and 25 inches of rain from the hurricane, so flooding is a major concern.
The record levels of rainfall over a long weekend in early October 2015 forced most of the Strand’s approximately 90 courses to close at least four days, and some much longer.
Hurricane Matthew forced all courses to close for at least two or three days, and several courses needed more than a week to reopen.
Most courses were closed for a couple days last September and endured numerous cancellations because of Hurricane Irma, which delivered only a glancing blow to the area.
More than a dozen courses closed this summer to replace greens that had suffered winterkill damage, and many more spent money to repair or replace grass.
Long Bay Club and Myrtle Beach National Golf Club — a couple Founders Group courses outside the evacuation zones — were open Wednesday through about 1 p.m. “and we had quite a few golfers out there,” Mays said.
Most area courses will be closed at least four days through Saturday. “We’re assuming we’ll probably be closed Sunday as well,” Mays said. “After that, who knows?”