Mitch Thompkins will serve as General Manager and Superintendent of the Georgetown, S.C., property, which has been closed since June 2016. Along with owner Harry Karetas, Thompkins plans to reopen the Manor House Restaurant in the coming weeks, and the revamped golf course by July 1.
Mitch Thompkins, a former consultant of Wedgefield Country Club in Georgetown, S.C., in 2013-14, has signed a five-year lease to operate the property from new owner Harry Karetas, with plans to reopen the Manor House Restaurant in the coming weeks and the golf course around July 1, Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Online reported.
The property has been shut down since June 2016, when former owner Ray Watts closed it citing a lack of play and poor financial performance, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time,” Thompkins said. “I want to make it work. I don’t like failing. I don’t like disappointing people, so I’m hoping to make it work.”
Paramont Capital of Phoenix, Ariz., foreclosed on the property late in 2016 and Karetas, the 74-year-old owner of Terminal Storage in North Myrtle Beach, purchased the approximate 175 acres from the lien holder in August for $650,000, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
Wedgefield is a 7,034-yard Porter Gibson and Bob Toski design that opened in 1972. It features several ponds and Lowcountry staples such as large live oak trees, and the property also has the restaurant, four tennis courts, a swimming pool and driving range, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
Karetas has kept about six acres out of the lease for potential future development, and also retained a cottage adjacent to the manor house, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
“That’s kind of like my retreat, so to speak,” he said. “I bought that property strictly based on the real estate value and the buildings that were currently on the property. That to me was a real estate investment there. I was prepared to just maintain the golf course without even leasing it out. I just love the property. I thought about leasing to different people, but Mitch came along and wanted to lease the whole thing, and I think that’s better.
“He’s coming along with the property and I think he’s going to be a big success down there,” Karetas said.
Thompkins will serve as Wedgefield’s General Manager and Superintendent. Thompkins began working on Wedgefield in October and has already completed renovations and maintenance. He spent six weeks in October and November bush-hogging the property to get everything down to 2 inches. Homeowners had already been maintaining about half the course, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
A volunteer cleanup day in early November attracted 30 people to pick up limbs, etc., and Thompkins has had some mechanics and superintendents in the golf business assisting him, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
“The community has helped out a lot. Everyone is excited,” Thompkins said. “I’m enjoying seeing all the excitement from everybody, but I’m not doing it for a pat on the back. I’m a Georgetown person. I’m a community person. I think it’s a shame the golf course is sitting there closed and I’m doing everything I can to get it back open.”
The Manor House Restaurant will be the first thing to reopen on the property. It is just awaiting a Department of Health and Environmental Control inspection, which could come within a week or two, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
The manor house’s roof and hardwood floor have been repaired, the kitchen has new equipment and it has been repainted. Matt Branham has been hired as the chef, his fiancée Maria O’Hara is the dining room manager and Thompkins’ daughter, Meredith, who has a culinary degree, will assist in the kitchen on weekends. “It will be a family business,” Thompkins said.
Elsewhere on the property, the maintenance shed has been repainted, the golf cart shed has been enclosed with new siding and doors, and new maintenance equipment has been purchased. Draining and irrigation work is being done, cart path and bunker work are planned, and the greens will be replanted in the spring with TifDwarf Bermudagrass. The grow-in period will determine when the course reopens, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
Thompkins plans to hire a golf professional who will give lessons and is planning to host the Georgetown High golf teams and hold clinics for juniors, men, women, seniors, etc., Myrtle Beach Online reported.
Wedgefield has had a difficult financial past that includes several sales, bankruptcies and foreclosures. He has been selling full, golf and social memberships to raise money to assist with the reopening of the club, and has already sold about 80 annual golf memberships that will begin when the course opens. Social membership for $30 per month include a $30 monthly restaurant credit. Tennis is included in all memberships, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
Thompkins has booked three Christmas parties, three weddings, bridal showers and a class reunion. He also has eight businesses in the city committed to corporate memberships. Employees will receive a discount rate on golf, Myrtle Beach Online reported.
Thompkins expects his regular walk-in rate to be between $30 and $50 depending on the season and will offer local rates. He plans men’s nights on Thursdays in the summer with nine holes and a steak supper, and monthly ladies luncheons. Thompkins may eventually turn two tennis courts and into Pickleball courts to take advantage of that sport’s growing popularity, Myrtle Beach Online reported.