Golf

On Grand Strand Golf: Wicked Stick expected to close on Sept. 15

Wicked Stick Golf Links is located off U.S. 17 Bypass in the Surfside Beach area.
Wicked Stick Golf Links is located off U.S. 17 Bypass in the Surfside Beach area. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

With a sales contract for part of the property set to close in the coming weeks, Wicked Stick Golf Links is scheduled to close at the end of business on Sept. 15.

Wicked Stick’s sale is expected to be completed in two different transactions for property that is zoned for residential building and is slated to become homes, and property that is zoned for commercial use.

The prospective buyer of the residential property has been waiting for Horry County Council to approve a zoning change before it would complete the purchase.

Regarding the residential property, Coldwell Banker Commercial Chicora Real Estate director of commercial sales John Draughn, who is involved in sales negotiations, said the sale is in its final stages. “We are very optimistic we’re marching toward a mid-September closing,” he said. “The buyer of the residential property is a great local and regional builder.”

Regarding the commercial property, which has been under contract for about five months, Draughn said there are “still some moving parts” to the agreement and parties are “making progress toward getting a contract done.”

Wicked Stick partner Jack Himmelsbach said the ownership group did not want to comment on the course’s future until a sale was complete.

The Clyde Johnston and John Daly design opened in 1995 on U.S. 17 in Surfside Beach.

Course operators are running a special until the course closes of $26 for 18 holes or $16 for nine holes, including cart and tax.

Wicked Stick will join Cypress Bay Golf Club, Heron Point Golf Club and Waterway Hills Golf Links as Strand courses that have closed in the past two years, leaving the Strand with fewer than 100 golf courses stretching from Georgetown to Southport, N.C., for the first time since the 1990s.

Black Bear reopens greens

Black Bear Golf Club reopened its 18 greens on Aug. 29 with new Champion ultradwarf Bermudagrass.

The course was hit particularly hard by a cold and wet winter that impacted most of the Strand’s courses and course operators opted to redo its greens and play on temporary greens for most of the summer.

The greens were enlarged generally a couple feet around their entire circumference to regain space that had been lost over a few years of encroachment by fairway grass.

“The greens came in real well,” Black Bear head pro Patrick Wilkinson said. “The root system is good and we look forward to a few more weeks of growing weather. We’ll be good for the fall.”

Course operators will color the greens in the winter rather than overseed and plan to purchase tarps to cover them if the weather becomes too severe.

Wilkinson said play was light this summer on the temporary greens, with members playing most of the rounds.

The World Am rules

The Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship is always good for some interesting happenings and rules scenarios, and the 32nd playing of the tournament was no exception.

The most interesting rules situation was perhaps two players switching their cards and signing the other player’s designated card, but with their own correct scores on it. Neither player was penalized.

Rule 6-6d/4 allows tournament operators to accept scores from players without penalty who sign a scorecard that has their correct scores but has the name of another player at the top.

It is deemed an administrative error, and the name of the competitor can be replaced on the card with the name of the player whose scores are recorded on it.

In another interesting ruling, during the championship round at the Dye Club, a player opted to play a ball inside a hazard line and hit the ball farther into the hazard to where it was unplayable.

His options were to drop the ball back into the hazard at the spot he had just played from with a penalty stroke, or go back to the point where the ball was last played from outside the hazard with a penalty stroke.

The player opted to drop the ball back in the hazard and play it from there again.

In all, about a dozen players were disqualified for rules violations.

“This was a very good year for everybody following the rules,” said Lew Gach, who administers tournament rulings with Frank Monk.

Of course, most participants played three rounds rather than four because most of Monday’s round were wiped out by rain.

The predominant reason for disqualifications remains players forgetting to turn in their scorecards, turning them in too late or signing an incorrect card. A couple players hung around the golf course too long before turning in their cards last week, and by the time they turned them in a tournament runner had already picked up all of their flight’s other scorecards, do they were DQ’d.

Lights out

Many World Am participants will have the story to tell of the night the lights went out at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The building lost power for about the first hour of 19th hole festivities Thursday, from approximately 6:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. A lightning strike is believed to have been the cause.

The convention center’s emergency generators were activated so there was low-level lighting during the outage.

Brian Katrek and John Maginnes managed to stay on the air for the entirety of their Katrek and Maginnes On Tap show on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio from 5-7 p.m.

“Drinks never stopped flowing, food never stopped being served and people never stopped having fun. The lights just weren’t on,” said Bob Seganti, who was representing Caledonia Golf Vacations and the Caledonia and True Blue courses at a vendor booth in the convention center.

Patrons let out a collective roar when power was restored, allowing the night’s band to begin playing music.

Handicap changes

The change in handicap policy by World Am organizers to require players to submit their lowest handicap index over the past 12 months led to many disqualifications.

Players were asked to submit their lowest handicap over 12 months rather than their current handicap as in past years, and that was used in the tournament unless they had a lower handicap from their World Am tournament rounds last year.

Tournament director Jeff Monday said handicap adjustments during the tournament were down this year and that may have been a factor.

But several players were DQ’d for not accurately registering their handicap – possibly by accident – and about 18 players were disqualified for perceived purposeful handicap violations.

“It was below 20 for the first time since I’ve been involved,” Monday said. “It speaks to the different ways that we’re trying to evolve in the way we monitor and evaluate handicaps coming in and the way we are able to adjust handicaps during the event.

“It’s all about making it a fair and even playing field. We’ll continue to tweak and make any changes that we need to, but we’re pretty happy with the way things went this year.”

Prestwick recognized

Prestwick Country Club is ranked No. 5 among Pete Dye-designed courses in America by the Golf Advisor rating and review site.

It is the only course in the Carolinas ranked in the top 10 by Golf Advisor, one of the leading sources of golf course ratings and reviews done by golfers for golfers.

The many designs credited to Dye, who is considered one of the most influential course architects of the past 50 years, include TPC Sawgrass, Harbour Town Golf Links, Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course and Whistling Straits. Locally he has also designed Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club and the private DeBordieu Colony Club.

The 7,086-yard Prestwick was designed collaboratively by Pete Dye and son P.B. Dye and opened in 1989. Golf Digest named it “One of the Five Best Kept Secret Golf Courses In America” in 2004 and the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel has named it one of the “30 Best You Can Play In S.C.”

Those ranked ahead of it on the Golf Advisor list are Rum Pointe Seaside Golf Links in Berlin, Md., Highlands Course at Grand Geneva Resort in Wisconsin, and the Wolf and Sun Mountain courses at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.

Daly store in new hands

Daly, who spent two nights at the World Am’s 19th hole this past week in part to promote his John Daly Cocktail, is about to lose his golf course on the Strand and has already lost a retail golf store on U.S. 17 Business in Surfside Beach.

John Daly’s Discount Golf & Tennis was sold by Daly and his longtime friend and business partner Bill McKown in the past few months.

“I can’t be here to help him so he sold it and is moving on,” Daly said.

McKown sold the business to brothers Pete Dye of Surfside Beach and Bruce Dye of Fort Wayne, Ind. – who owns numerous businesses – along with the Surfside Golf Cart Rentals business down the street, though McKown remains a partner in that business.

The name of the golf store has been changed to Brigadoon Discount Golf, and the cart business is about to have a major expansion. The Dyes are renovating the old Legends in Concert building on U.S. 17 in Surfside Beach to open a new Club Car golf cart sales, repair and rental business. McKown expects the grand opening to be in November.

McKown, 59, is a longtime business partner of Daly and also a former state aeronautics commissioner and Surfside Beach town councilman.

“The golf store has been great here,” McKown said. “It has always made money. With John’s name it always drew the people.”

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