After declaring full recovery from this year’s earlier winterkill scare and touting an outlook for a strong fall season, the dozens of properties in the golf-dependent region are now scrambling to try to minimize the damage inflicted by Hurricane Florence and its forecasted 13-foot ocean surge and flooding rains. Myrtle Beach’s courses account for half of the $2.7 billion in economic output that golf generates for the South Carolina economy.
Just a week after clubs and courses in the Myrtle Beach, S.C. region were declaring that they had fully recovered from this year’s earlier winterkill scare and were preparing for a strong fall season (http://clubandresort.wpengine.com/2018/09/myrtle-beach-s-c-courses-back-at-full-strength-in-time-for-fall-season/), Hurricane Florence decided to literally take a turn that threatened to deal another heavy blow to the area, which depends heavily on golf- and club-related activity for its economic well-being.
After the Dunes Beach & Golf Club in Myrtle Beach closed for business on September 10th, course superintendent Steve Hamilton had his staff move the golf carts from under the clubhouse and park heavy machinery on the 14th fairway, where he figured it would be safe from flooding and falling trees, Bloomberg News reported.
Then Hamilton shut down the course, which looks out over the Atlantic Ocean, and told his workers that he’d call them back when Hurricane Florence dies down. At that point, Bloomberg News reported, they’ll rush to get the course playable in time to take advantage of a time of year when area courses are usually bustling.
“Unfortunately, when storms hit is during our fall season,” Hamilton told Bloomberg News. “There’s not many drawbacks to living at the beach, but that’s one of them.”
While most golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area were open within two weeks of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Bloomberg News noted, Florence could be different, because it’s forecast to deliver a 13-foot (4-meter) ocean surge and flooding rains.
Myrtle Beach’s courses accounted for half of the $2.7 billion in economic output that golf generated for the South Carolina economy in 2015, Bloomberg News reported, according to a report from the state’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. If storm cleanup keeps courses closed, it will likely have a heavy impact on hotels, restaurants and the rest of the area’s tourist economy. That would be especially painful, Bloomberg News noted, because cooler temperatures make October prime golfing season.
Hurricanes carry an array of hazards for coastal courses, Tim Kreger, Executive Director of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendent Association, told Bloomberg News. Storm surges can leave courses awash in saltwater, killing grass or covering courses with silt. Fallen trees and freshwater flooding may require extensive cleanup, even if they don’t damage clubhouses, equipment sheds or other infrastructure.
“It’s a wait-and-see moment” for the area’s courses, said Biff Lathrop, Executive Director of the South Carolina Golf Association. “If it comes through and closes them down for a couple weeks, that’s going to be huge,” Lathrop told Bloomberg News.