This Myrtle Beach area golf course is about to lose 9 holes that will become housing

Owners have plans to close the nine holes of the 27-hole River Oaks Golf Plantation. A rezoning request and residential development proposal for the Bear nine has been submitted to Horry County. Dec 18, 2018.
Owners have plans to close the nine holes of the 27-hole River Oaks Golf Plantation. A rezoning request and residential development proposal for the Bear nine has been submitted to Horry County. Dec 18, 2018.

Nine holes at River Oaks Golf Plantation are set to become housing, which would drop the 27-hole facility to 18 holes.

Owners of the course have submitted a rezoning request to Horry County that would allow for a housing development consisting of 220 single-family home lots.

The rezoning request is for the Bear nine, which was designed by Tom Jackson and opened in 1991, four years after the original 18 holes designed by Gene Hamm. The 3,432-yard Bear nine is on the opposite side of River Oaks Drive as the clubhouse.

The course is owned by a group of investors, including the Gray family of Myrtle Beach.

“We’ve had a long-term plan of possibly taking advantage of the opportunity when the [housing] market is as good as it’s been,” said Wayne Gray, whose late father, Dan, was the majority owner of the course. “We’re looking at the opportunity to redevelop those nine holes from a golf course to a residential development.”

The golf course is operated through a long-term lease by a group of investors under the name River Oaks Golf Club LLC that includes club general manager Scott Taylor.

“Having more than 18 holes gives you greater flexibility,” Gray said. “We certainly have an obligation to provide an 18-hole golf course to our tenant, but I think anyone would recognize a golf course in Carolina Forest, an area in high demand … we think it gives the sight clearly an opportunity to be turned into something else.”

The course is already zoned for housing. The request is to change 66.6 acres from SF10, which allows minimum lot sizes of 10,000 square feet, to multi-residential MRD3. The submitted development proposal calls for more than 200 single-family lots with eight acres of open space and sidewalks. Gray said 70 percent of the lots would be 7,000 square feet and 30 percent would be 6,000.

Gray said the Horry County Planning Commission has recommended approval of the rezoning request by the Horry County Council, which will have to approve it in three readings, with the first on Tuesday’s meeting agenda.

Gray said a closing date has not been set if rezoning passes, and it hasn’t been determined if the owners would sell the lots themselves or sell the entire property to a homebuilder.

“Right now we’re just seeking a rezoning,” Gray said. “We have a number of different options we would consider but that has not been concluded at this time.”

The Grand Strand golf market may lose a total of 27 holes in the coming months, as a rezoning request and residential development proposal for Indian Wells Golf Club has also been submitted to Horry County.

Tilghman makes changes

The 29th Charles Tilghman Junior Championship was played Dec. 8 at the Surf Golf and Beach Club in North Myrtle Beach, where it has been played since its inception in 1990.

Unlike past years, however, tournament organizers added a second Myrtle Beach area course to expand the field to 156 players. Unfortunately, the Members Club at Grande Dunes wasn’t needed this year.

A winter storm came through the Carolinas, and the Carolinas PGA-run tournament was shortened to one day and one course after a rash of cancellations and the shortening of the tournament from 36 holes and two days to 18 holes and one day.

The field played through cold and rain, with Garrett Clark of Burlington, N.C., winning the boys competition by a shot with an even-par 72 over runners-up Cade Hancock of Elizabethtown, N.C., and Bronson Myers of Columbia.

Savannah Hylton of Hilton Head Island defended her 2017 title with a 2-over 74 to win by a shot over both Adrian Anderson of Murrells Inlet and Mary Kathryn Talledo of Spartanburg.

The tournament was shortened with the safety of players and their families considering the travel required following the tournament.

The Tilghman is named after one of the Surf Club’s founding members and the grandfather of former Golf Channel personality Kelly Tilghman. It’s the second of two tournaments in two weeks that bring top junior golfers to the Grand Strand, following the 49-year George Holliday Memorial Junior at Myrtle Beach National on Thanksgiving weekend.

Pets will be fed

The annual Shiver For The Shelter tournament presented by Slimbo Events on Sunday at Farmstead Golf Links collected four tons of pet food and cat litter for the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach shelter.

Eighty players were required to bring 100 pounds of pet food and/or cat litter per along with a $30 per person registration fee.

Golfweek impressed

The depth and quality of the Myrtle Beach golf market is reflected in Golfweek’s ranking of America’s premier resort courses that was recently unveiled.

Three Myrtle Beach area layouts are ranked among Golfweek’s Top 100 Resort Courses, led by a pair of top 50 entrants, and six more landed on the magazine’s Next 100 Resort Courses list.

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, a Robert Trent Jones Sr. classic, is ranked 34th, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club is No. 43, and the Moorland Course at Legends Resort is No. 92.

King’s North at Myrtle Beach National is No. 147, Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club (No. 156), Love Course (No. 170) and Fazio Course (192) are ranked, the Grande Dunes Resort Course is No. 167 and the Surf Golf and Beach Club is No. 181.

Tidewater Golf Club, with eight holes that play along either Cherry Grove Inlet or the Intracoastal Waterway, was ranked 141st among Golfweek’s list of America’s best residential golf courses.

First Tee gets 50k

The Gene’s Dream Foundation has held one event, and it resulted in a $50,000 donation to The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas, which benefits area youth through the game of golf.

The gift comes just a few weeks after the inaugural Mentor Cup was played. The two-day event included a gala dinner at the Surf Golf and Beach Club, a tournament at Tidewater Golf Club and a stand-up performance at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center by David Feherty.

The Gene’s Dream Foundation was created to honor Gene Weldon, a revered PGA professional who worked in the Myrtle Beach market for nearly 50 years before dying last year. Weldon mentored countless juniors during his career, including golf media personality Kelly Tilghman, who is a founder of the organization and organizer of the event, which she said exceeded expectations.

“That $50,000 is a real game-changer for The First Tee of the Coastal Carolinas,” said Rich Abraham, the organization’s executive director. “We operate very lean, and this will help us expand our programs for kids along the Grand Strand and in Brunswick County. Beyond the financial impact, events like the Mentor Cup are great for our kids, giving them a taste of competition and the opportunity to be mentored by community leaders.”

The tournament featured 60 kids paired with 60 adult mentors playing nine holes of captain’s choice and nine of modified alternate shot.

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Alan Blondin covers golf, Coastal Carolina athletics and numerous other sports-related topics that warrant coverage. Well-versed in all things Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the Grand Strand, the Northeastern University journalism school valedictorian has been a sports reporter at The Sun News since 1993, earning eight top-10 Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards and 18 top-three S.C. Press Association writing awards since 2007.