Photo: Craig Rubadoux/FLORIDA TODAY
A course that is now closed because of the storm damage it suffered still showed up on a “top resort course” list, and a landscaping company sued a management firm for not paying for $123,000 in cleanup costs.
There might have some head-scratching in the Carolinas Lowcountry, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported, when golf fans glanced at a recently released list of the best resort courses in the country and, after a few clicks and a bit of scrolling, found that the No. 175 listing was for the course at the Melrose Resort on Daufuskie Island, S.C.—a course (and resort) that, according to officials, is closed.
Golfweek initially included the Melrose course in its “2019 Ultimate Guide: Top 200 Resort Golf Courses,” which was released on December 3, The Observer reported. But Daufuskie Island Council Chair Deborah Smith confirmed that the course is closed, noting that she could see it from her window and that it did not look playable.
Kevin Roberts, co-owner of the Melrose Beach Club restaurant, which recently reopened, also confirmed that the golf course is closed, and Golfweek’s Armand Cimaroli then acknowledged that Melrose’s inclusion was a mistake and apologized for any confusion, The Observer reported. Cimaroli added that the list would be corrected for its online version.
Smith said that the current resort owners had been cleaning up the course and repairing it after damage sustained in past storms, including 2017’s Tropical Storm Irma as well as 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, The Observer reported.
But in addition to the disruption caused by those storms, The Observer noted, in recent months much of Melrose Resort fell into disrepair after years of financial problems as well.
In September, The Observer reported (citing previous reporting by The Island Packet and The Beaufort (S.C.) Gazette), the Securities and Exchange Commission sued the resort’s former owner and three of his business partners, alleging they defrauded investors of more than $10 million from January 2014 to mid-2017,
The 18-hole, par-72 Melrose Resort course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened for play in 1987, The Observer reported. It was also included, as No. 163, in Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses list for 2017—but was unranked in the same list for 2015.
The Island Packet also reported on a lawsuit filed on November 26 in the Beaufort County (S.C.) Court of Common Pleas by SavATree, a Chicago, Ill.-based landscaping company, against Brown Golf Management, a Pennsylvania-based firm that manages the Palmetto Hall Plantation golf courses on Hilton Head Island, S.C.
After Hurricane Matthew brought winds of up to 88 mph and 14 inches of rain to Hilton Head in early October 2016, SavATree’s lawsuit charged, the company was contracted to do $123,000 of cleanup work on the Palmetto Hall property.
According to the suit, The Island Packet reported, course management called SavATree to order urgent work on the golf course after the storm. As the cleanup process progressed, the suit says SavATree discovered more “obstacles”, and the two crews ended up doing much more work than initially planned, including:
- Clearing the roads to the maintenance building
- Removing trees from cart paths
- Removing trees and debris from around bathrooms
- Removing trees and debris from the parking lot, around the clubhouse, on the tennis courts, and from the cart barn roof.
Once the course was clear, the suit claims the landscaping firm was never paid by Brown Golf Management.The suit also alleges that a manager at the Palmetto Hill property knew he never had the power to employ or pay the landscaping service, and that he acted deceptively.
The suit goes on to say, The Island Packet reported, that Brown Golf Management “never informed [the] Plaintiff during the course of work that [the Palmetto Hill manager] lacked authority to order work to be performed on the golf course.” That “constitutes a willful violation” of South Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the suit contends.
A spokesperson for Brown Golf Management told The Island Packet that the firm does not comment on ongoing lawsuits, and neither SavATree officials or the company’s attorney returned calls seeking comment.