The purchase of the Myrtle Beach, S.C., property marks the third time in the past year that a Chinese person or couple has bought a Grand Strand golf course.
China residents Chun Lan Li and Shi Lin Zou closed last week on the $1.5 million purchase of Black Bear Golf Club, a 6,787-yard Tom Jackson design that sits on 186 acres in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the Myrtle Beach-based Sun News reported.
The purchase marks the third Chinese person or couple to buy a Grand Strand course in the past year, the Sun News reported.
“We looked at it and fell in love with it,” said Li through Keller Williams Realty agent Jane Zheng of Myrtle Beach. “It’s more beautiful than New York and the people here are more friendly.”
Li and Zou said they will keep the course in operation and currently have no plans to build housing or commercial developments on the property. They plan to maintain dual residences on the Strand and in the China city of Nanjing, the Sun News reported.
The restaurateurs have sold the bulk of their restaurants but still have a minor stake in some. They plan to make improvements to Black Bear beginning, naturally, with the kitchen and menu, and will assess other needs. They also expressed a desire to be good neighbors and assist the community through Black Bear when possible, the Sun News reported.
Their son, Kang Zou, 34, is a product designer who has been living in New York on a green card but plans to also move to the Strand and do some importing and exporting while gradually learning the golf business. No one in the family plays golf, but they all plan to learn now that they are course owners, the Sun News reported.
“We love the trees and vegetation and surroundings; the blue sky and sunshine; the clear water,” Li said. “It’s hard to see that in China.”
Shengwen Lan of Dalian, China, who became familiar with the Strand after playing in the Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship last August, purchased Crown Park Golf Club in February for $1.5 million plus the assumption of equipment leases that made it about a $2 million transaction, the Sun News reported.
A Chinese businessman known as Mr. Pan—he prefers to be identified without a first name according to Sea Trail Golf Resort assistant general manager Dana Connelly—was behind the $8.5 million purchase at a Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction last June of Sea Trail, a 2,000-acre community that includes three golf courses in Sunset Beach, N.C., the Sun News reported.
All of the Chinese owners have expressed an interest to keep their golf courses in operation, the Sun News reported.
Zheng alone has multiple Chinese investors looking to purchase land on the Strand, including any golf courses that are listed for sale. “In China, golf courses are way more expensive,” Zheng said. “Only the richest can possibly afford a golf course. People like them, small business owners, can’t even entertain the thought. Here they can make it happen.”
Li and Zou said they will try to attract more Chinese visitors for golf, tourism and possible investments. They purchased Black Bear from GGG of Myrtle Beach, which owns the Classic Golf Group management company and includes principal owners Robbie Byers and Ed Jerdon, as well as stakeholder Roland Thomas. Byers had been the developer and owner of Crown Park before selling that course in February, the Sun News reported.
The new owners have not retained the management of Classic Golf Group, though the entire staffs of Black Bear head pro Patrick Wilkinson, superintendent Jim Brown and food and beverage manager Patricia Estep have been retained and will operate the club independently, the Sun News reported.
“I’m excited to have them here with us,” Wilkinson said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what they want to do with the golf course. They’re going to make some improvements and have the capital to do it.”