The owner of The Wizard Golf Course in Carolina Forest has an agreement to sell the 168-acre tract to a developer contingent upon the property being rezoned to allow housing.
“There are people out there that are looking at the possibility of buying it from us and developing it, and if that [rezoning] were to come to pass then we would sell The Wizard,” said Claude Pardue, president of DG Golf Management.
“But we do not have a guaranteed contract. There is not even earnest money down, and until somebody gives me money for it I have no contract that I can count on.”
Horry County has not received a formal request to rezone The Wizard, according to Horry County Planning & Zoning Dept. director David Schwerd. Pardue said any rezoning request will come from the contracted developer, whom he declined to name citing a nondisclosure agreement, not his company.
The 6,721-yard Dan Maples design opened in 1996, along with neighboring sister course Man O’ War Golf Club, which is not involved in the possible sale and redevelopment.
“There is zero chance that Man O’ War will ever be developed and it is not even for sale as a golf course today,” Pardue said. “Now if somebody offers me $20 million for Man O’ War, have at it. But as of right now Man O’ War is not a part of what we intend to do.”
Wizard and Man O’ War comprise about 376 acres of an 812-acre Planned Unit Development, according to Horry County records, and both courses are zoned to remain golf courses within the PUD, so it would have to be amended.
Much of the surrounding property in the PUD is zoned for both single-family and multifamily housing, however, and remains undeveloped.
The Wizard has no housing alongside holes, though the Windsor Green and Waterford Plantation developments are nearby, with Waterford close to the back nine of Man O’ War.
DG Golf Management owns only the golf course properties within the PUD, Pardue said, having purchased the property from International Paper in the mid-1990s.
Pardue said the sales price of The Wizard exceeds $6 million. “I’m not going to sell it for $6 million or $5 million, it will be more than that,” he said.
Rezoning The Wizard might be a tough sell with Horry County Council, as a proposal would likely receive opposition from Carolina Forest residents.
Councilman Danny Hardee represents the district that contains the course and said he met with a man in early June at a law firm who represented the unnamed contracted housing developer.
The Wizard is off Carolina Forest Boulevard, which is undergoing a widening project that will make it an entirely four-lane road and is scheduled to be completed in May 2021.
“He wanted to show me what they wanted to do and let me know they don’t plan to build the first home in there until Carolina Forest Boulevard is complete,” said Hardee, who was unsure of the amount of homes proposed. “I’m not against development. I don’t have any problem with development, but it needs to be controlled. I represent those people there so therefore what the people want is basically how I’m going to look at it.”
Hardee said he has received up to 300 emails in the past few weeks from Carolina Forest residents opposed to any redevelopment of the golf course, which came up during a Carolina Forest Civic Association meeting last month.
“Traffic is bad enough like it is and they want to leave the area as it is now and they have no desire to see it change,” said Hardee, who said he believed the projected development that was presented to him included a right turn-only connection to U.S. 501. “. . . They would have to show me a reason to change my mind.”
A second attempt
If the county receives a rezoning request, it will be the second time in the past 13 years a developer will attempt to rezone The Wizard for housing.
In 2006, a requested rezoning to a Planned Development District (PDD) with a proposed 650 housing units was denied by Horry County Council.
Similar to the current sales agreement, a purchase was dependent upon the zoning change, so the course has continued to be operated by DG Golf Management since.
That rezoning request was accompanied by a proposed mixed-use community adjacent to Man O’ War – which would have had a deed restriction requiring it to remain open space – including 435 single-family homes with 2.9 homes per acre and 216 multi-family dwellings with 11.5 units per acre. The PDD would have also featured lakes, parks and amenity centers.
DG Golf Management owns and operates three courses including The Witch on S.C. 544. Pardue said the company would like to operate two of the three while eliminating its remaining mortgage debt with a sale. It has been open to selling The Wizard since 2006.
“In my industry the last 10 years have been tough,” Pardue said. “It’s not as bad as some people think it is either. There are still 30 million golfers out there [in the U.S.] and people are still coming to Myrtle Beach to play golf so it’s not horrible.”