The Georgetown, S.C., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., properties, both owned by Ray Watts, closed their golf courses this week with the intention of reopening in the fall, assuming memberships and prospective play warrant it. Non-golf amenities are still operating.
The golf courses at Wedgefield Plantation Country Club in Georgetown, S.C., and Island Green Country Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C., have closed for at least June and July, though owner Ray Watts said he intends to reopen them for the fall assuming memberships and prospective play warrant it, the Myrtle Beach, S.C., Sun News reported.
Both courses closed this week with little or no notice to employees, members or community residents. Non-golf amenities at the facilities are still operating, said Watts, the owner of Apex Homes, the News reported.
“We’re not closed,” Watts said. “We’re operating the things that work in the summer—tennis, pools, community centers—we’re just not hitting golf balls. We’ll have some meetings in the next 60 days to figure things out.”
Watts said both public-access courses that have bargain-priced green fees rely largely on member and community play and have monthly membership plans, and only a handful of members were signed up for June at both courses. Those players will receive refunds, the News reported.
“No need to pay a bunch of people for that,” Watts said. “June and July are our worst months of the year. I know we do pretty well in the fall and spring and in the winter with the snowbirds, but there’s nothing in the summer. It’s just what’s feasible. It’s no more complicated than that for now.”
Watts said a skeleton staff would be retained for maintenance at the courses, the News reported.
“The grass cutters will keep doing what they do. It’s just the rest of the folks,” Watts said. “The intention is to take the two months out and see what the memberships are in the fall. If they sign up we’re capitalists, we like to make money.”
Watts purchased Island Green in December 2012 from BB&T Bank, which had foreclosed on the course in the summer of 2012 from its England-based owners, and purchased Wedgefield in December 2013 from the Marlowe family, which had acquired it out of bankruptcy. The Island Green purchase included about 70 acres of undeveloped land and Watts said work has recently been done to ready some lots near the clubhouse for sale and development, the News reported.
The Wedgefield purchase included a manor house, guest cottage, several buildings including one that contains a snack bar and another that houses the golf pro shop, a swimming pool, maintenance barn, restaurant that seats more than 100, and two tennis courts, the News reported.
Watts acknowledged after purchasing Wedgefield that making a profit in golf was difficult, and he hoped community support of the facilities at both courses would help them thrive. Wedgefield has traditionally been a popular wedding and reception venue, the News reported.
Bob Garrison, vice president of the Wedgefield Plantation Association property owners association, said there are 576 properties between condos, lots and single-family homes in the community, the News reported.
“We think [the course] is very important because a large percentage of the houses that are in here border the golf course,” Garrison said. “If that thing goes to seed, and instead of looking at a golf course you’re looking at 5-foot high weeds, it’s going to be problematic. It’s a piece of this place. It’s integral to it. But I don’t think over the years this community has done a whole lot to support the golf course.”