This South Strand golf course will close in December to make way for housing development

Indian Wells Golf Club in Garden City is expected to close in late December in advance of an anticipated housing development being built on the 150-acre property.

The layout will be the first of the 22 courses purchased in the past five years by the China-based company Founders Group International to close and be redeveloped.

Indian Wells is zoned for housing, and a vote on a request to rezone for a specific housing project has been deferred by Horry County Council.

In a letter to Grand Strand golf package providers, FGI president Steve Mays said the course will close and be sold.

“Indian Wells Golf Club has been a profitable member of the Founders Group International family for the last five years, but we’ve made the decision to close the course near the end of December of 2019,” FGI said in a statement to The Sun News. “Indian Wells was zoned for residential development many years prior to FGI taking ownership, making this decision the next step for a property that has long been earmarked for a different purpose.”

The 6,624-yard, par-72 Gene Hamm design opened in 1984, and it was part of FGI’s first golf-related purchase on the Grand Strand as one of three courses bought for about $11 million in Sept. 2014 from Classic Golf Group.

The sale also included Founders Club at Pawleys Island and Burning Ridge Golf Club.

The golf course is currently zoned SF6, which allows for single-family homes with minimum lot sizes of 6,000 square feet – the equivalent of about seven homes per acre. Potential developers are seeking a rezoning to MRD2, a zoning code that allows for single-family and multifamily houses, with additional commercial zoning. Under MRD2, fewer homes could be built compared to SF6.

Previously, Horry County Planning Director David Schwerd said the benefit of MRD zoning was it locks in the plans, which must include sidewalks and other internal enhancements.

The MRD2 proposal allows for 520 total units – 253 single family and 267 townhouse – and was the second submitted to the county by the Thomas & Hutton engineering firm on behalf of the potential developer.

The first, submitted in December, featured a housing development with 512 total housing units – 255 single-family and 257 townhomes.

Residents of developments around the course, which include the Woodlake Village 55-and-older adult community that consists of 448 mostly single-family homes with a few duplexes, Sweetwater at Indian Wells, and The Villas, have organized protests against development on the Garden City Connector and at county planning commission and council meetings.

Their concerns include potential flooding, traffic, stress on emergency personnel and loss of green space and wildlife habitat.

“We are not against development, but we are for responsible development, which is why we started the coalition we have . . . and putting more than 500 houses out there is not responsible development,” said Kathy Jellison, a Woodlake Village resident and president of the recently formed Coalition for Responsible Development in Horry County. “I think it’s a FEMA disaster waiting to happen.”

FGI declined comment on the Indian Wells closing aside from its statement.

The company has made significant renovations to six of its courses over the past two years, and no other FGI courses have proposals submitted for redevelopment. “The closing of Indian Wells is a business decision that will further strengthen FGI’s golf operations,” the statement read. “. . . Our commitment to the golf industry and helping Myrtle Beach build on its reputation as the Golf Capital of the World is stronger than ever.”

FGI said it will maintain the course to a high standard until the closing, and will offer all employees in good standing jobs at other FGI properties.

Other Hamm designs on the Strand include Burning Ridge, Eagle Nest Golf Club, the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina, Azalea Sands Golf Club, Beachwood Golf Club, and 18 holes of River Oaks Golf Club.

FGI courses

Horry County

Aberdeen Country Club

Burning Ridge Golf Club

Colonial Charters Golf Club

Grande Dunes Resort Course

Indian Wells Golf Club

International World Tour Golf Links

Long Bay Club

Myrtlewood Palmetto

Myrtlewood PineHills

Myrtle Beach National West

Myrtle Beach National SouthCreek

Myrtle Beach National King’s North

Pine Lakes Country Club

River Hills Golf & Country Club

Wild Wing Plantation

Georgetown County

TPC Myrtle Beach (parts in both counties)

Founders Club at Pawleys Island

Litchfield Country Club

Pawleys Plantation

River Club

Tradition Club

Willbrook Plantation

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