Golf

One of Myrtle Beach’s enduring golf courses is reopening with new greens, bunkers

One of Myrtle Beach’s enduring golf courses is scheduled to reopen on Sept. 20 after a significant renovation project.

Myrtlewood Golf Club’s Palmetto course, a 7,015-yard Edmond Ault design that opened in 1973, will open with new greens and completely rebuilt bunkers following a project overseen by Dan Schlegel of Schlegel Golf Course Design based in Annapolis, Md.

The Palmetto Course’s greens now feature Sunday ultradwarf Bermudagrass, which was added last summer on Myrtlewood’s PineHills Course as well as Tradition Club, another of Founders Group International’s 22 courses in the market.

Schlegel rebuilt all of the course’s bunkers and reclaimed about 26,000 square feet of putting surfaces that had been lost to encroaching fairway Bermuda over time.

“The edges of the greens continually creep in and over time pin placements get lost and you don’t really notice it until the greens are really, really small,” said Schlegel, who was in town a couple days last week to help complete the project.

Bunkers were reshaped and redesigned with new drainage and new sand, and some bunkers were added while others were removed.

“Every bunker on the golf course will be brand new,” Schlegel said. “Most of them are in place where they were. Some have shifted a little bit. We took a couple out and we added a couple.

“Over time the bunkers lost their shape, too. There was no movement in the sand lines. They were really big and oval with no interest and definition in them. So we have reshaped all of them. They will all look different than they have for the last 20 to 25 years. You’re going to have some elevation changes in the sand line, you’re going to have a little bit of a grassy face on the bunkers, so it’s definitely going to be a different look.”

Some fairway bunkers have been enlarged to their original size so they come more into play on tee shots, giving players a decision about whether to take on a bunker or avoid it and change the angle of play.

The combined amount of sand that will have to be maintained in bunkers has decreased by about 30 percent, Schlegel said.

Some trees have been removed to open up sight lines on some holes.

Tee times are booked at the course on Sept. 20, and it has a couple more weeks to grow in, but Hurricane Dorian’s impact could affect the opening date.

The course, which features a signature par-4 18th hole that runs along the Intracoastal Waterway, closed on June 24.

Schlegel was a partner in the firm Ault, Clark & Associates, which included Tom Clark, who created the design plans for the Palmetto Course while working for the firm.

It’s the third time Schlegel has worked on the course. He expanded some tee boxes, particularly on par-3s, in the mid-1990s and redesigned the 17th hole in 1998, rebuilding the tee box, converting a drainage ditch into a pond at the green and eliminating some trees to open up a view of the waterway from the tee.

In an era when the number of courses closing each year is far outpacing the number of new courses being built, the Myrtlewood project is a significant renovation.

“In this day and age in the golf architecture market this is a really good-sized project,” Schlegel said. “To have a course shut down and redo all the bunkers and re-grass the greens and expand them back out and talk about even doing some other tee projects and some other minor things throughout the golf course, it was definitely exciting. I was really happy to get the call.”

Schlegel said he and FGI officials discussed further improvements, including expanding tees to add more forward tees and provide shorter playing options, and adding a tee on the 18th hole near the existing back tee.

“I expect either at the end of this year or beginning of next season I hope to be back and we’ll be talking about some of these other projects we’ve been running out,” Schlegel said.

Over the past three years, FGI has had notable renovation projects on six courses – TPC Myrtle Beach, Aberdeen Country Club, River Hills Golf & Country Club, Myrtlewood’s PineHills and Palmetto courses, and Tradition Club.

“It really reflects on FGI’s commitment to improving our product continually and delivering the best golf vacation and experience possible,” said Justin Binke, FGI director of marketing and sales. “It’s been an ongoing thing for us and we’re going to continue to reinvest in these properties.”

The Palmetto Course was one of three layouts on the Grand Strand that underwent renovation projects this summer. Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club and The Pearl’s West Course reopened earlier this summer with new ultradwarf Bermuda greens and other improvements.

First Tee starting

The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas will kick off its eight-week Fall After School and Saturday programs next week for children ages 7-17.

The golf and youth development organization will have after school programming this fall at eight locations from Georgetown to Little River.

Host facilities include Willbrook Plantation, Wedgefield Country Club and Wachesaw Plantation on the south Strand, Whispering Pines Golf Club, Legends Resort, and the Hackler Course at CCU in the central Strand area, and Crown Park Golf Club and Eagle Nest Golf Club on the north Strand.

The program focuses on golf instruction, The First Tee’s nine core values and life skills curriculum, and fun.

The 90-minute after school sessions are either from 4-5:30 p.m. of 4:30-6 p.m., and the Saturday program at Eagle Nest in Little River is from 2-3:30 p.m.

The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas has added North Myrtle Beach Aquatic Center fitness instructor Eddie Hopeck to its staff, as well as recent Queens College graduate and golfer Cameryn Smith, who will be ramping up its LPGA Girls Golf programs with several events and play days.

For more information contact First Tee program director Patrick O’Brien at Patrick@TheFirstTeeCoastalCarolinas.org or 843-467-3020.

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