The golf course of the Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. property was closed on January 1st by its previous owner, but the clubhouse restaurant remained open. The new buyers are community residents who are interested in having others who live there buy the property from them to protect it from development, while also contracting for the restaurant’s operation. East Coast Golf Management is also being consulted about a possible operational arrangement.
Three residents of Brick Landing Plantation have formed a company that has purchased the closed golf course in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., and they are exploring the possibility of reopening it, the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun News reported.
Russ Baltzer, a board member of the Brick Landing master property owners association for about the past seven years, and his two partners formed Swan Partners LLC to purchase the 125-acre course for $1.2 million, the Sun News reported.
Former owner Larry Doyle, who purchased Brick Landing in 2011, closed it on January 1 to avoid losing money on its operation this winter, after previous attempts to sell it, the Sun News reported.
The course at Brick Landing Plantation Golf Club is a scenic Mike Brazeal design along the Intracoastal Waterway that opened in 1987, the Sun News reported. The property also includes a grand 11,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse near the waterway’s banks. Even after the announcement of the golf courses’ closing, The View restaurant in the clubhouse has remained open six days a week this year, for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Thursday and Friday, and brunch Sunday, and has been operated by former golf course General Manager Jennifer Ernstes, the Sun News reported.
“We’re doing the best we can here to try to save the amenities that golf course represents for that community,” Baltzer, a commercial architect based in North Myrtle Beach, told the Sun News. “We live in the community, so we have an interest that is a little different than other buyers would have had.”
The goal of those who formed Swan Partners LCC is to essentially have residents along the golf course purchase the course from them, Baltzer added, to protect the land from another buyer that might want to redevelop it, and to contract with a restaurateur to operate the restaurant.
“What we want to see happen if possible is to have our various homeowners throughout Brick Landing have the opportunity to actually own the property behind their homes and condos, so that we don’t have to worry about someone building [a housing development] or bringing in some huge marina with parking behind us,” Baltzer said. “All of those are things that are best avoided if we want to maintain the lifestyle that we enjoy there. We’re planning to enable that for both ourselves and our neighbors.
“We’re offering to sell the golf course portion of things to them at a very discounted price in order to help make that happen,” Baltzer added. “Then we can still grant an easement across those portions that get conveyed to residents to enable golf to be played, as it has been.”
If the course is going to reopen, Baltzer believes it will have to occur within the next month, the Sun News reported, because the longer it remains closed, the more capital improvement spending will be required to reopen.
“That is something that has to happen pretty quickly,” Baltzer said. “There are some shelf-life issues relative to the greens and fairways and whatnot. Basically another month or so and it will be difficult to reclaim the golf course as it was.”
A group of homeowners is studying the viability of reopening the course, and it has met with East Coast Golf Management about operating the layout, the Sun News reported. That group was scheduled to meet with the new owners on February 14.
East Coast manages three club properties in Myrtle Beach’s “Grand Strand” region, including nearby Rivers Edge Golf Club in Shallotte, N.C, the Sun News reported. The company also has a marketing/consulting cooperative that includes more than 20 Grand Strand courses, and previously had a marketing agreement with Brick Landing for six years and a maintenance agreement for three years until the closure on January 1.
“We are hopeful under new ownership they continue to participate in the Myrtle Beach Golf Trail marketing initiatives we have in place,” East Coast President Mike Buccerone told the Sun News.
The golf course has benefited from renovations in the past few years, including new Sunday ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens in the summer of 2018, the Sun News reported. But it has struggled financially in part because it has lacked strong community support, with a high of about 18 percent of community residents owning memberships during Larry Doyle’s ownership, according to Buccerone.
The clubhouse and restaurant operation has been more of a financial drain in recent years than the golf course, Baltzer told the Sun News. “We will keep it open as long as we can,” he said. “We’re looking to bring in a restaurateur who would lease the facility and run a restaurant there and hopefully keep our existing staff.
“We’ve been interviewing a number of local restaurateurs who have that interest and we’re seeing what’s going to be a good fit, so hopefully we’ll be successful in that endeavor,” he added. “But the numbers as they exist now are nonsustainable, so there has to be a change for the better. We feel that if properly managed and promoted, the clubhouse can be successful.”
Holes 11-14, across North Carolina Route 179 from the remainder of the course, were part of Swan Partners’ purchase, but that part of the property will revert back to the Hewett family if its use becomes something other than a golf course, the Sun News reported.
In addition, Stratford Land of Texas owns about two-thirds of the driving range, so an agreement will have to be reached for its use, the Sun News reported.
Larry Doyle retained 71 undeveloped lots around the golf course that he additionally has for sale for a total of $750,000, the Sun News reported.