Aberdeen Country Club will host golfers this upcoming weekend for the first time in more than five months.
The 27-hole course in Longs will reopen to the public on Saturday following an event for invited guests on Friday. It has been closed since Sept. 11 because of damage from flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
Aberdeen, a Tom Jackson design that opened in 1989, has a new clubhouse that was rebuilt for the second time in three years.
The course is one of 22 on the Grand Strand owned and operated by Founders Group International, and it has been forced to close for a significant amount of time because of flooding in three of the past four years.
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Despite the flooding issues, Matt Daly, FGI director of operations, said the company is committed to operating Aberdeen as a golf course. He said the course played nearly 13,000 rounds combined last March and April.
“We’re looking to keep it as a golf course for sure,” Daly said. “We saw a lot of momentum here last spring. What we did in March, April and May from a rounds standpoint was tops in our company. It was phenomenal. We saw a lot of momentum on the north end and Aberdeen was leading that charge.
“. . . We know what this course means to this area.”
In 2016, Aberdeen was closed from Oct. 8 to March 29 after flooding from Hurricane Matthew forced the clubhouse to be rebuilt.
And in 2015, 18 holes were closed for nearly four weeks and the Woodlands nine remained closed a few more weeks following historic rain totals over four days in early October.
Eighteen holes were closed for a few days in February 2016 for flooding as well.
“You can’t control mother nature, so we’re looking at mitigation plans of what we can do to protect it the next time and we’ll go from there,” Daly said. “There’s a lot we can do from a barrier standpoint if we want to look at something to that effect, and we’re looking at any and all options there.”
Max Morgan, FGI’s director of agronomy, said the longest a green was under water during the current closure was 34 days. Other than one bridge needing to be repaired because it floated off its pylons, the course didn’t suffer any physical damage.
“After the flood went down a lot of the water was trapped in the golf course, so we had to pump the golf course down,” Morgan said. “It took a while for the water to go down, then get rid of the rest of the water. So that was a challenge.”
The pureness of the flood waters allows Aberdeen to recover quickly and not suffer serious damage with each recurring flood.
“Our flooding is a little bit unique,” Morgan said. “Some places where they flood it leaves a lot of silt behind, and our water when we do flood, there’s nothing in it. So once it goes down there’s nothing left. The soil dries up and there’s nothing to remove, there’s no debris to speak of – an odd limb or a lawn chair or something. But luckily there’s no four or five inches of silt or anything like that.
“. . . The Bermudagrass, it can take a lot. It’s the No. 1 weed in agriculture for a reason because it is so tough.”
The overseeding of tees, fairways, greens and green surrounds for the winter was delayed by flooding, though it was completed in mid-December and a wet and mild winter helped it grow in.
The clubhouse is essentially an entirely new building. The pro shop is larger, the restaurant area can seat 54, and an outdoor patio will have six tall tables and several smaller tables.
The restaurant will be open for golfers and residents with a menu consisting largely of bar food items, including appetizers, sandwiches and burgers. It will be set up like a sports bar with a new bar and five flatscreen TVs, the largest being 60 inches.
“The biggest point of everything we’re doing is to have an access point for the residents to come down and enjoy the afternoons and football on Sundays, golf tournaments and even to have dinners for the community,” said Cory Bowers, head pro and general manager at both Aberdeen and nearby Long Bay Club.
Founders Group International held a benefit golf tournament at Long Bay Club on Nov. 1 for the Buck Creek property owners association that raised more than $6,700 to help residents impacted by flooding. It kept the POA from imposing a special assessment, paid for security during the flooding and helped rebuild the community clubhouse.
“It was good to see the company’s commitment to not only getting the course back to the way it was but adding a little more value with some custom work, allowing some changes on the inside to make it more customer friendly and a better environment for our customers,” Bowers said. “That’s been wonderful to be a part of, to see the commitment back to the course.”