South Carolina

These three Myrtle Beach area golf courses are closing for renovations this summer

Waste bunkers lay between the 12th and 13th holes at Shaftesbury Glen Golf and Fish Club. With the course closing this summer for renovations, Shaftsbury will add waste bunkers to several more holes.
Waste bunkers lay between the 12th and 13th holes at Shaftesbury Glen Golf and Fish Club. With the course closing this summer for renovations, Shaftsbury will add waste bunkers to several more holes. jlee@thesunnews.com

Three Grand Strand golf courses are closing this summer for renovations that include the replacement of greens.

Myrtlewood Golf Club’s Palmetto Course, Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club, and The Pearl’s West Course are scheduled to reopen later this summer with new greens and other improvements.

In the cases of Shaftesbury Glen and The Pearl, the green transitions continue the move toward the elimination of bentgrass from the Myrtle Beach golf market.

Bentgrass was once considered the premier putting surface in the Carolinas and was featured on dozens of Strand courses. But it has been nearly eliminated from the market over the past 15 years as course operators are opting to install warm-weather ultradwarf Bermudagrasses that provide similar putting surfaces but aren’t stressed in the summer heat like cool-weather bentgrasses are.

The five public courses that will still have bent greens are Man O’War, The Wizard, Crow Creek Golf Club, Leopard’s Chase at Ocean Ridge Plantation and the Maples Course at Sea Trail Resort.

The private Members Club at Grande Dunes has L93 bent, and at the private four-course St. James Plantation in Southport, N.C., The Reserve Club is transitioning from bent to MiniVerde Bermuda this summer to give all four courses Bermuda. The property’s Founders Club changed from bent to Bermuda two years ago.

“Heck it was in the 90s a couple weeks ago. It’s just getting too hard,” said Shaftesbury Glen director of operations Ryan McCarty. “Last summer we struggled because we were doing a lot of rounds in the summertime. The bentgrass in the conditions with the heat and humidity, they’re too expensive and they’re getting weaker and weaker every year. We’ve had them for 20 years.”

Shaftesbury Glen, a 6,935-yard Clyde Johnston design that opened in 2001, is closing Monday and is scheduled to reopen on Aug. 7 with Sunday ultradwarf Bermuda on the greens.

“We decided instead of being reactive to a situation when we finally would lose them we’re trying to be proactive and fix them and change them out before any of that happens,” McCarty said.

McCarty said Shaftesbury’s management looked at different strains of ultradwarf Bermuda grasses over the past year before settling on Sunday, which has become popular in the past couple years and has been installed at a handful of area courses including Arcadian Shores, Rivers Edge, Tradition Club, Myrtlewood’s PineHills Course and International Club of Myrtle Beach.

“It’s phenomenal. It’s a good, quick grass. It’s very hearty and very stable,” McCarty said. “It seems like a stronger grass to recover if you have any situations.”

The driving range will receive a face lift including a new chipping and putting green with Sunday Bermuda.

McCarty said a project to add waste bunkers to fairways throughout the course will be completed this summer with another 250,000 square feet of waste areas on nine holes that will improve drainage and allow cart traffic. Nine holes were done in early 2016.

The course, which features elevated greens protected by steep greenside bunkers, was fairly open with wide fairways off most tee boxes prior to the project. Mounds with high rough will be built to separate some of the holes.

McCarty said the course’s owners – primarily Paul and Jack Himmelsbach – will spend approximately $1 million on the two projects combined over the past three years. “The owners are all about the product,” McCarty said. “We’re excited. It’s going to be a beautiful product when we’re done. The first renovation, everybody loved the waste areas. Draining the course and getting everybody around the golf course easier is going to make a dramatic difference.”

Shaftesbury houses the South Carolina Golf Center on its range, which is headed by teaching pro Josh Jackson, and that will soon be changed. Its building will be converted into a pub, and some hitting bays will be built to replace those at the golf center.

The building features a pair of hitting bays, computer swing analysis equipment, a pro shop with equipment and attire, an office, a couch and television, and wraparound deck with chairs and tables.

The pub has a planned opening in the fall of 2020 to service golfers and area residents, and a restaurant is planned across the street from the Shaftesbury entrance on S.C. 905 in the next couple years, McCarty said.

More stay-and-play condos are also a possibility in the near future, adding to condos upstairs in the clubhouse.

Myrtlewood’s Palmetto Course, a 7,015-yard Edmond Ault design opened in 1973 and features a par-4 18th hole that runs along the Intracoastal Waterway, will close June 24 and is expected to reopen late in the summer.

An extensive renovation project will be overseen by course architect Dan Schlegel, who was a partner in the firm Ault, Clark & Associates, which included Tom Clark, who largely designed the Palmetto Course while working for Ault’s firm.

This will be the third time Schlegel has worked on the course. He worked on tee boxes in the mid-1990s and redesigned the 17th hole in 1998.

The course will also install Sunday Bermuda, which was installed last summer on Myrtlewood’s PineHills Course and Tradition Club, another of Founders Group International’s 22 courses in the market. “It provides a really good putting surface and is an easier to maintain surface as well,” according to FGI president Steve Mays.

Schlegel will redo all of the course’s bunkers and will reclaim 26,000 square feet of putting surfaces that have been lost to encroaching fairway Bermuda over time.

Bunkers will be reshaped and redesigned with new drainage and new sand, and some will be added and others removed.

“The bunkers over the course of time have lost their architectural integrity and lost their shape,” Mays said. “It’s a pretty significant renovation. When we’re done we’ll have a much more dynamic and interesting golf course than we have today. The Palmetto is one of the more popular courses in Myrtle Beach. “

Mays said drainage and irrigation will be improved this summer, a couple tee boxes may be rebuilt and some may be added to holes, though plans haven’t been finalized.

The Myrtlewood renovation is part of an overall FGI five-year plan that began last year to update golf courses and clubhouses.

The River Hills Golf & Country Club clubhouse is now being renovated with the help of an interior designer. The foyer has been changed and renovated, the second floor has been changed from three rooms to one, the restaurant has been renovated, a new bar was built, seven TVs are in use and the pro shop is being worked on.

“It’s a great clubhouse, it just needed a little bit of work,” Mays said. “What we’re going to end up with will be a fantastic place for golfers to eat before and after their rounds, and have a drink.”

The Pearl’s West Course, a 7,006-yard Dan Maples design that opened in 1987, is transitioning to MiniVerde Bermuda, which is the grass on The Pearl’s East Course.

The course closed on June 1 and is scheduled to reopen on Aug. 15 with a grand reopening that will include area golf directors and the public.

The course will also receive some irrigation and drainage repairs and reseeded tee boxes. “We might as well do it all while we have the ability,” The Pearl general manager Bob Gentile said.

The West Course has been open only for morning tee times in recent summer months, so the full facility will remain open with the Bermuda greens.

“It was not an easy decision,” Gentile said. “But it will keep play consistent on both the East and West courses and give us the ability to keep the West Course open all summer long.”

Tyndall victorious

Ryan Tyndall, head professional at the private Reserve Club in Pawleys Island, captured one of the Carolinas PGA Section’s major titles last week at the 55th Mobipaid North Carolina Open at Trump National Golf Club in Charlotte, N.C.

He entered the final round a shot behind East Carolina University golfer Blake Taylor and was in a three-way tie for the lead with Taylor and Kelly Mitchum of Pinehurst Resort with three holes to play.

Tyndall, who played in the 2016 national PGA Professional Championship, finished with a birdie and two pars to close out a 3-under 69 and win by a stroke at 7-under 209 over both Taylor and Mitchum, who shot a final-round 68.

“It was fun out there today. I just tried to stay patient and stay in the moment,” Tyndall told CPGA media officials.

Tyndall earned $4,500 for the win and is now tied for the CPGA’s points lead through two of the section’s five major championships this year with friend Ray Franz of Daniel Island Club. Tyndall tied for fifth in the CPGA Players Championship at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton in March, which Franz won.

The Players Championship winner earns a spot in the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage, and both the Section Championship winner and points leader at season’s end – the CPGA Player of the Year – qualify to play in either the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship or Wyndham Championship.

“My goal starting this year was to try to win the points race,” said Tyndall, who won the CPGA’s match play championship for the top 16 points leaders a few years ago. “It’s a good feeling being in front going into the third tournament, it gives me some confidence going into this summer.”

Brad Redding teaches you how to improve your golf swing. Redding is a professional in the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area.

There’s a Mr. 57

Alex Ross, a rising junior at Davidson College in North Carolina, shot an incredible 15-under-par 57 on Thursday at the Dogwood Invitational. The bogey-free round began with a chip-in for eagle and included 13 birdies – seven on his final 10 holes.

The Dogwood Invitational takes place annually at Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga., and was first held in 1941. U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson held the previous course record at Druid Hills of 60.

Last season at Davidson, Ross had a scoring average of 73 and his best collegiate score is a 67.

No one is believed to have shot a 57 in professional golf. Jim Furyk holds the record for the lowest score in PGA Tour history with a 58 in the final round of the 2016 Travelers Championship on the par-70 TPC River Highlands Course.

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Alan Blondin covers golf, Coastal Carolina athletics and numerous other sports-related topics that warrant coverage. Well-versed in all things Myrtle Beach, Horry County and the Grand Strand, the Northeastern University journalism school valedictorian has been a sports reporter at The Sun News since 1993, earning eight top-10 Associated Press Sports Editors national writing awards and 18 top-three S.C. Press Association writing awards since 2007.
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