Approximately 200 single-family home lots will occupy 66.6 acres of the Myrtle Beach, S.C. property. The Bear nine has been closed for the past few weeks in anticipation of the sale and will remain permanently closed, while the Otter and Fox nines will remain operational. “Right now is a pretty good time for golf course landowners to sell land if they choose to do so,” said builder Chris Manning, who paid $3 million for the land, and whose company also owns and operates the International Club of Myrtle Beach, through East Coast Golf Management.
Chris Manning Communities purchased nine holes of the 27-hole River Oaks Golf Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. for $3 million and plans to redevelop the property into about 200 single-family home lots, The Sun News reported. The sale was recorded with the Horry County Register of Deeds on October 8.
The Bear nine has been closed for the past couple weeks in anticipation of the sale and will remain permanently closed, Manning told The Sun News. River Oaks still includes the Otter and Fox nines, which combine to measure approximately 6,800 yards.
Chris Manning Communities is a construction, development and realty company that owns and operates International Club of Myrtle Beach in Murrells Inlet through East Coast Golf Management, The Sun News reported. Manning, a Grand Strand resident, purchased that course last November, and was previously a partner in Diamondback Golf Club in Loris but sold his interests a few years ago.
The Bear nine consists of 66.6 acres and was rezoned by Horry County in 2019 to accommodate a housing project that was proposed but did not come to fruition, The Sun News reported. The zoning changed from SF10, which allows minimum lot sizes of 10,000 sq. ft., to multi-residential MRD3, “Which was what the county staff recommended in terms of residential development that they like to see in what they call their urban corridors of the unincorporated part of Horry County,” said River Oaks partner Wayne Gray in 2019.
The course is owned by a group of investors, including the Gray family of Myrtle Beach, and Wayne Gray said in December 2018 that the owners wanted to take advantage of a burgeoning housing market and sell part of the property, The Sun News reported.
The Bear nine was designed by Tom Jackson and opened in 1991, four years after the original 18 holes designed by Gene Hamm, The Sun News reported.
Manning said he was interested in the property because it’s in the popular Carolina Forest area and is already zoned for housing, The Sun News reported.
“Those are the two key factors,” said Manning, who is not yet sure what homebuilder or homebuilders will be involved in the redevelopment, The Sun News reported. Chris Manning Communities builds homes and Manning said he is currently building approximately 50 homes in North Myrtle Beach on what was formerly Robbers Roost Golf Course, which closed in 2003.
“We’re building up there and we’re going to expand into some other areas next year,” Manning said.
Manning told The Sun News he is not done purchasing area golf courses. He said he is negotiating with the owner of another course in Horry County that he plans to purchase in 2022 and close for redevelopment, though he declined to name the course.
“It’s closing. It’s not going to be operating anymore. The owners have already made that decision,” Manning said. “It’s already zoned [for housing].
“Right now is a pretty good time for golf course landowners to sell land if they choose to do so,” he continued. “The golf market has recovered somewhat in the last year or so, but it’s still not a very lucrative business to operate a golf course relatively speaking, so for so many owners it’s easier to sell the land and close the operations.”
Manning said he’s not averse to purchasing another golf course to operate, however, The Sun News reported. He also owns and operates through East Coast the private Grand Harbor Golf & Yacht Club in Ninety Six, S.C.
At International Club, Manning said he’s in the process of redeveloping the course’s driving range and some surrounding property into 45 single-family lots, The Sun News reported. He said he worked with community members to reach an agreement on the project, and the homeowners association is also involved in the expansion of the community pool and renovation of the clubhouse, which includes adding an outdoor area.
“It’s just kind of meeting the needs of additional folks in the community,” Manning said. “We’re adding residents and the clubhouse needed some renovation work, so we’re going to add some outdoor space for the community and the club on the back of the clubhouse.”
River Oaks Golf Course is operated through a long-term lease by a group of investors under the name River Oaks Golf Club LLC that includes club General Manager Scott Taylor, The Sun News reported. The Bear nine joins The Witch Golf Links in Conway and Farmstead Golf Links in Little River/Calabash, N.C., as golf course closures in October and November, as course owners continue to sell to residential developers.
Farmstead is scheduled to close on October 31 and The Witch is scheduled to close on November 21, The Sun News reported. In addition, the owners of The Wizard Golf Links have requested a zoning change on the property to enable a sale to a developer.