How a golf package company is revitalizing a Grand Strand golf property and community

Sea Trail Resort gets a boost from golf package company

The Golf Trek golf package business and Affordable Large Properties have taken over the rental properties at Sea Trail and revitalized the Village Activity Center, and are offering new golf packages at the Sunset Beach course.
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The Golf Trek golf package business and Affordable Large Properties have taken over the rental properties at Sea Trail and revitalized the Village Activity Center, and are offering new golf packages at the Sunset Beach course.

A golf package company is helping to reinvigorate a golf community that lost some of its amenities late last year.

Parker Smith, owner of the Golf Trek golf package company and Affordable Large Properties property management company, has ventured into the three-course Sea Trail Golf Resort in Sunset Beach, N.C.

Smith has renovated and reopened the Village Activity Center that includes the Sunset Bistro & Sports Pub, and has taken over a condo and villa rental business with about 90 units that supports the courses and community.

“He has certainly helped the business,” said two-year Sea Trail director of golf Jamie Roderick, who is leaving his position on June 22 and is being replaced by former Sea Trail head professional Andrew Galbraith, who is returning to that position on June 24. “It has certainly been beneficial that it landed in the hands of a package provider, no doubt.”

In addition to Smith’s recent involvement in the property, Sea Trail is joining the East Coast Golf Management cooperative marketing group, which includes more than 20 Grand Strand courses.

“It’s nice to be featured in a group with other golf courses as opposed to being strictly independent,” Roderick said. “There is strength in numbers and I like their programs. I’m excited for Sea Trail.”

Sea Trail’s courses will be added to East Coast’s Platinum Card membership that includes all of its marketed courses.

“We are excited to have Sea Trail in the marketing co-op,” East Coast Golf Management president Mike Buccerone said. “It gives all the partner courses an opportunity to create more stay and play opportunities with the accommodations that are at Sea Trail. We believe the golf courses are a great fit for what we’re able to offer moving forward and are excited about working with the ownership moving forward.”

The Village Activity Center is on 2.5 acres and includes an outdoor pool, heated indoor pool, tiki bar, cornhole and ping pong. The building houses the Sunset Bistro & Sports Pub, dining room with indoor and outdoor seating, a workout room, exercise room, locker rooms with showers and sauna.

All restaurant equipment is new and there are 12 beers on tap at the pub. Fitness classes offered include Pilates, yoga and water aerobics, and live bands are generally hired at least weekly. Smith said an outdoor show attracted approximately 250 people in April. The activity center is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, so it’s open later than the property’s golf clubhouses.

“We wanted to create a sports bar so guys could play golf, after golf come over here and have a few pops, eat and not have to leave the property, and have more of community environment,” Smith said.

Smith said he has a lease with an option to buy on the building.

Activity center memberships are available to the public, with discounts available for Brunswick County residents. Renters have use of the facility.

The 2,000-acre Sea Trail property that includes courses designed by Rees Jones, Dan Maples and Willard Byrd was purchased in June 2013 at a Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction for $8.5 million by a Chinese businessman known as Mr. Pan through Chinaway Development Corp., and has had a lot of turnover at key positions since.

Some renovations have also been done, particularly in the summer of 2016, when greens on the Jones Course were redone with Champion ultradwarf Bermudagrass and Magnolias Restaurant was renovated.

But in November, the owners closed the grand 50,000 convention center that is adjacent to the clubhouse, closed the activity center and discontinued a rental business that included approximately 90 two-, three- and four-bedroom condo units on the property that supported the golf courses and businesses within the property. The convention center is one of the largest in North Carolina and remains closed.

Smith reopened the activity center in January and began offering food and beverages in late March.

Smith said he approached condo owners about taking over the rental business and began with about 70 units. He now has more than 90 in the program, which is still growing and is available online at Smith said there were once 300 rental units in the program at its peak a couple decades ago.

“The more condos we have the more golf we can bring here,” Smith said. “It’s pretty exciting. It’s not too often it comes along that you can take over that many condos at once.”

Smith is a 42-year-old Furman grad who was in software sales before marrying a Myrtle Beach woman, moving to the area and starting Golf Trek. He said he purchased eight four- to eight-bedroom homes during the housing crash in the late 2000s to include in his golf packages, and now has about 80-such homes available through Affordable Large Properties property management in addition to Sea Trail’s units.

There are several courses near Sea Trail, including four at Ocean Ridge Plantation, two at The Pearl, 27 holes at Sandpiper Bay and Thistle, and Oyster Bay. “Our rounds went up tremendously with Sea Trail and all the other courses in the area,” Smith said. “It’s an alternate destination. There’s a lot of potential up here.”

In addition to its three courses, Sea Trail includes two golf clubhouses, hundreds of condos and villas, single-family and multifamily homes, unsold lots and undeveloped land.

Sea Trail management has decided to overseed the entire Maples Course for the winter so it will be green for the spring season, and tees, fairways and green collars will be overseeded on the other two courses. The facility also has green covers for the Jones and Byrd courses to protect those putting surfaces from cold temperatures.

This summer, Golf Trek is offering a $300 package that includes four nights accommodations and up to 36 holes of golf per day for three days.

“We’re servicing a number of different demographics but I’d like to make this a summer stay-and-play destination where you can come here and be by the beach and still play golf,” Smith said.

Another title

One of the all-time greatest career amateur golfers from the Carolinas added to his legacy last week with another national title.

Scott Harvey of Kernersville, N.C., who turned 41 last Thursday, won the fifth U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort’s Old Macdonald course with partner Todd Mitchell in what was nearly an all-North Carolina championship match.

Harvey and Mitchell, 40, of Bloomington, Ill., defeated East Carolina University rising seniors Blake Taylor, 21, of Wilmington, N.C., and Logan Shuping, 21, of Salisbury, N.C., 2 and 1 in the 18-hole championship match.

Harvey, a property manager, won the U.S. Mid-Amateur five years ago to qualify for and compete in the 2015 Masters Tournament, was the runner-up in the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur and represented the U.S. in the 2015 Walker Cup Matches.

He also won the 2015 South American Amateur in Peru, qualified for the 2017 U.S. Open and has won numerous titles in the Carolinas including the Carolinas Amateur, North Carolina Open, Carolinas Mid-Amateur, N.C. Mid-Amateur and Cardinal Amateur.

The U.S. Four-Ball Championship is the first USGA title for Mitchell, a former minor-league baseball player who is in the insurance business. He’s had some previous close calls, including being the runner-up in the 2008 U.S. Mid-Amateur

The duo has reached the match play portion of all five U.S. Four-Ball events and reached the semifinals in the inaugural competition at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

The winning duo eliminating co-medalists and No. 3 seeds Troy Vannucci, 27, and Vince Kwon, 25, both of Marlton, N.J., in the semifinals.

“There’s not enough team golf events, in my opinion,” Harvey told USGA media officials after his win. “And like [Mitchell] said out there, this is the best event going currently, and it’s just more fun. Everything you’re doing is with someone. You’re sharing every part of it with someone, and it just feels that much better.”

Open hopefuls

Wes Artac and Morgan Deneen, who were members of the 2018-19 Coastal Carolina men’s golf team, came up short in their bids to qualify for the U.S. Open on Monday at a U.S. Open Sectional at Hawks Ridge Golf Club in Ball Ground, Ga.

Artac, a Texas native, tied for 17th at 4-under 140 and Deneen, a California native, tied for 31st at 1-under 143 in the 67-player field.

The top four golfers qualified for the 119th U.S. Open from June 13-16 at Pebble Beach Golf Links in California – Ollie Schniederjans (-11 133), Noah Norton (133), Chandler Eaton (135) and Roberto Castro (135).