A 35-year-old Jack Nicklaus design on the Grand Strand is getting a major renovation this spring and summer.
Pawleys Plantation, which opened in 1988 in Pawleys Island, is scheduled to close from May 22 through Oct. 1 for work that will encompass greens, bunkers, the clubhouse and other aspects of the property.
The course is one of 21 in the Myrtle Beach market that are owned and operated by Founders Group International, which has renovated several courses in recent years. But none to this extent.
“It’s going to be a true renovation,” FGI president Steve Mays said. “This will be the biggest undertaking we’ve done under Founders Group. . . . We’re not trying to reestablish a golf course, we’re trying to make the golf course better than it was and modernize it.”
FGI has contracted with Nicklaus Design and Troy Vincent of Vincent Design, who also works with the Nicklaus company, to oversee the project.
The renovation will include the installation of TifEagle Bermudagrass on greens and expansion of the putting surfaces back to their original size and contours.
The plan also includes removing or altering existing large bunkers and adding native grasses and sandy areas to enhance the layout’s look.
Each remaining bunker will be completely rebuilt, including the installation of Capillary Concrete bunker liners that will make the bunkers less susceptible to washouts and standing water during heavy rains.
“We want to make the golf course more playable because it is a difficult golf course, but at the same time we don’t want to take the teeth away either,” Mays said. “So it is still going to be a challenging golf course, but the hope is it will be a lot more playable golf course for the members and for the everyday golfer.”
The large banquet facilities in the clubhouse will remain open, but the pub and restaurant will be renovated.
A project delayed
FGI planned to implement the renovation project in 2020 and had plans drawn up by Nicklaus Design, but it was delayed by the tumult of the coronavirus pandemic.
During a visit to Pawleys Plantation in October 2018, Nicklaus rode around the course for a couple hours and commented on what he would like to see done to it, and his conversation was recorded and is being used to guide some of the changes.
“The guys at the Nicklaus design team looked at it and listened to it, and Troy did again a couple months ago as this project started to get underway,” Mays said.
In 2022, FGI renovated the greens and bunkers at the Grande Dunes Resort Course and River Hills Golf & Country Club, and renovated the Resort Course clubhouse.
The company also recently renovated Pine Lakes Country Club and the Palmetto Course at Myrtlewood Golf Club, while installing new greens at Tradition Club and Myrtlewood’s PineHills Course.
The construction company working on Pawleys Plantation is the same one that FGI has used for projects at Grande Dunes, Myrtlewood and River Hills.
“Our whole plan is to continue to try to renovate and touch every course along the way, some more than others,” Mays said. “There haven’t been a lot of capital improvements until the last five years, so we’re doing a lot of catch-up work on the golf courses, and Pawleys will be the next one.”
Golf’s resurgence since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic has given course operators more money to fund improvement projects, but it’s also tempting for them to remain open with increased business.
“It’s difficult when you’re so busy right now to close down, but still we know in the long term we want to make sure we’re upgrading the golf courses,” Mays said.