Water hazard: Grand Strand golf courses getting second round of closures from floods

Aberdeen Golf Club and surrounding homes remain flooded by Hurricane Florence

Aberdeen Golf Club and many surrounding homes are flooded on Sept. 24, 2018.
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Aberdeen Golf Club and many surrounding homes are flooded on Sept. 24, 2018.

Nearly all of the golf courses in the Myrtle Beach market got through Hurricane Florence with only minimal damage and reopened within a few days after the storm blew through the area from Sept. 13-16.

But flooding from rivers – predominantly the Waccamaw River – has presented a second round of issues and closures for several courses on the Grand Strand.

At least 10 courses were entirely closed Monday, a few more were partially closed and Willbrook Plantation is scheduled to close Tuesday.

More than 70 courses in the market are open, but closed Monday were the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina, Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club, Heritage Club, Aberdeen Country Club, Long Bay Club, Crown Park Golf Club, Meadowlands Golf Club, Lockwood Folly Country Club and Sea Trail Plantation’s Byrd and Maples courses.

Properties such as Brunswick Plantation, The Witch and Crow Creek were limited to nine holes Monday because of flooding.

Aberdeen, which is greatly impacted by the Waccamaw River, will likely be closed the longest and the front nine at The Witch will also require an extended period for flood waters to recede.

Aberdeen Country Club has suffered extensive flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. This photo was taken on Monday, Sept. 24. Jason Lee

Courses such as Long Bay Club and Crown Park aren’t flooded, but they are closed because Highway 9 is flooded near their entrances and workers and golfers can’t get to the properties. Water on the road was already receding Monday and those two courses could reopen this week. Crown Park has a scheduled reopening Friday.

Willbrook in the Litchfied area of Pawleys Island will close Tuesday because of water on a couple holes from the Waccamaw and should reopen immediately after the water recedes.

At Heritage Club in Pawleys Island, which closed Monday after being open for four days, employees including head pro Sean Pearson were filling sand bags in an effort to keep rising floodwaters from the Waccamaw from impacting the irrigation pump house, which is 8 feet above ground.

The course will remain closed until the water recedes, though as of Monday the only playing area of the layout that was flooded was the ninth tee. Several cart path bridges were under water, however. Pearson said it was questionable whether water would reach the clubhouse.

Heavy flooding that a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources map projects as being possible could result in water on several holes, including 7-10 and 13.

“It’s hard to tell. It depends on which map is right,” Pearson said.

Bob Seganti, director of golf operations at nearby True Blue Golf Club and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, said there are no plans to shut down his courses. Flooding has never been an issue on them and isn’t yet occurring, but water is still rising and “the safety and safe passage of our team members and guests on and to our properties is always our top priority,” Seganti said.

The three-course Sea Trail Plantation in Sunset Beach, N.C., hasn’t experienced any significant flooding but it was hit hard by Florence so downed trees and debris have forced closures.

The Jones Course reopened Thursday, the Byrd Course is expected to reopen Tuesday afternoon and the Maples Course will require another week or so of cleanup and may reopen next Monday.

Shaftesbury Glen runs near the Waccamaw River off S.C. 905 in Conway. It has been closed since Florence’s arrival and is expected to reopen next Monday.

The CCU-owned Hackler Course is ready to reopen but is shut down because the university’s entire campus is closed through at least Friday. The pro shop staff at the education facility is comprised of mostly CCU students in the PGA Golf Management Program and the travels of other staff may be limited by flood waters.

“As soon as the students are permitted back on campus we can open,” Hackler Course general manager and pro Chuck Johns said. “We can recalculate how everything is going to work.”

Nine holes at the 27-hole Brunswick Plantation on the S.C./N.C. border off U.S. 17 reopened Monday and the club may have 18 holes open by Wednesday or Thursday after water recedes.

At Crow Creek, which is adjacent to Brunswick Plantation, the back nine opened Monday and the front nine could reopen Saturday after water recedes from holes 2-6.

Meadowlands on the border has been closed due to flooding and could reopen next Monday following a cleanup. Meadowlands’ neighboring sister course Farmstead Golf Links had fewer issues and reopened Thursday.

Lockwood Folly in Holden Beach, N.C., could reopen Wednesday once flooded ponds recede.

The private Wachesaw Plantation’s scenic par-5 18th hole was closed Monday due to flooding. Its green abuts the Intracoastal Waterway/Waccamaw River in Murrells Inlet, and assistant pro Emma Schutz said about 1,700 sandbags have been placed around the 18th green to protect it. An extra par-3 after the 16th hole is being used to give the Tom Fazio design 18 holes until the 18th reopens.

The flooding is impacting the golf courses that are open as well, as more than 250 road closures in Horry and Georgetown counties as of Monday is making it difficult for golfers to get to courses to play.

“We have lost a ton of business due to the roads being closed and golfers not being able to get here,” said Patrick Wilkinson, head pro of Diamondback Golf Club off S.C. 9 in Loris. “. . . A lot of my members and regulars live in the Little River and North Myrtle Beach area and are cut off from Diamondback. All of our play right now is from locals west of 905 and the Conway, Loris, Aynor and Tabor City areas.”

Most Strand courses had to recover from some level of winterkill this spring and summer prior to Florence’s arrival, with more than a dozen having to entirely redo their greens, including Diamondback.

“With having to close down for eight weeks to grow new greens in and then being open for 24 days before all of this mess came in has been a very trying time,” Wilkinson said.

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