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. Bentgrass greens, once a popular choice across South Carolina, are increasingly being replaced with warm-season grasses.
Three of Myrtle Beach, S.C.’s Grand Strand golf courses are closing this summer for renovations that include the replacement of greens, The Sun News reported. 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, the Sun News reported. 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 Sun News reported. 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 Shaftebury 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 June 17 and is scheduled to reopen on August 7 with Sunday ultradwarf Bermuda on the greens, the Sun News reported.
“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 told the Sun News 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, the Sun News reported. McCarty said a project to add waste bunkers to fairways throughout the course will be completed this summer with another 250,000 sq. ft. 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, the Sun News reported. Mounds with high rough will be built to separate some of the holes.
McCarty told the Sun News 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, the Sun News reported. 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 Sun News reported. 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 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, the Sun News reported.
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, the Sun News reported.
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, the Sun News reported. 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, the Sun News reported.
“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 sq. ft. of putting surfaces that have been lost to encroaching fairway Bermuda over time, the Sun News reported. 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 Sun News reported. 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 Sun News reported. 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 Sun News reported. The course closed on June 1 and is scheduled to reopen August 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, the Sun News reported.
“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, the Sun News reported.
“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.”