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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Myrtle Beach Golf Notes: A 16-year entity rebrands and two courses undergo renovation projects

One course will close nine holes for a couple months to make improvements, while another recently completed a drainage overhaul

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PAWLEYS ISLAND | A golf entity that has existed on the south end of the Grand Strand for the past 16 years is being rebranded.

The Waccamaw Golf Trail has adopted the tourism moniker of Georgetown County through the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce, and has rebranded as South Carolina’s Hammock Coast Golf Trail.

Golf and tourism officials in Georgetown County believe the brand merger will allow them to work more cohesively to market the area more efficiently and effectively.

“They merge together so well with SEO and SEM and digitally and all that kind of thing, so piggybacking on it is really going to enhance that,” said Mark Stevens, Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce director of tourism development.

The chamber and the affiliated Georgetown County Tourism Management Commission have been marketing the county as the Hammock Coast since 2010.

The Hammock Coast moniker promotes six coastal communities in the county: southern Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach, Pawleys Island, Georgetown and Andrews.

The Waccamaw Golf Trail formed in 2007 as a non-profit marketing cooperative promoting golf in northern Georgetown County, primarily through out-of-market advertising and marketing.

The trail consists of 12 courses in Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island: Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue Golf Club, Pawleys Plantation, TPC Myrtle Beach, Blackmoor Golf Club, Litchfield Country Club, River Club, Tradition Club, Willbrook Plantation, Founders Club at Pawleys Island, Wachesaw Plantation East and Wedgefield Country Club in Georgetown.

Rebranding to the Hammock Coast Golf Trail was initially the idea of Founders Group International president Steve Mays, who suggested it during a meeting of golf representatives within the trail. FGI owns and operates 21 courses on the Grand Strand, including seven that are on the trail.

“We were talking a lot about what’s the connectivity between Waccamaw Golf Trail and Hammock Coast, and we were talking about how to connect those dots,” Mays said. “It was kind of a lightbulb like, ‘Why are we trying to connect these dots? It makes a lot more sense just to tie the brands together.’

“They’ve got a great brand with Hammock Coast, all of our golf courses are on the Hammock Coast, so let’s just try to tie the brands together so we’re complementing each other and not competing against each other. We can kind of draft off each other.” 

The new Hammock Coast Golf Trail was unveiled on Nov. 7 during a media event at Pawleys Plantation. (Alan Blondin photo)

The tourism marketing commission oversees marketing for Georgetown County under the Hammock Coast moniker.

According to the chamber, between the two entities, the Hammock Coast and golf trail were responsible for generating more than $7.57 million in Accommodations and Admission tax revenues in Georgetown County for the fiscal year 2022-23.

Since 2010, the Hammock Coast has seen a number of record-breaking years in local and state Accommodations Taxes, according to the chamber.

The golf trail has as well in recent years. In 2022-23, Admission Taxes were $1.06 million from courses in the trail, up 10.3 percent from the previous year and an impressive 115 percent from four years ago.

“Traveling golfers do not want to play the same golf course everyday, so it’s absolutely crucial that we work together, that we play together,” said Bob Seganti, tourism management commission chairman and general manager of sister Pawleys Island courses Caledonia and True Blue. “We compete as partners, but none of us will do well unless we all do well together. . . . That’s how we work from a golf course perspective. It’s been that way for a long time, and it will continue to be that way.”

Seganti said the courses in the golf trail will collectively contribute approximately $1.5 million for marketing this year.

“Golf is a vital cog in the Hammock Coast tourism machine,” Seganti said.

The bulkhead on the par-5 ninth hole leading to the clubhouse at Prestwick Country Club was rebuilt in 2022. (Alan Blondin photo)

Prestwick making improvements

In order to replace greenside bulkheaded retaining walls along ponds on the par-4 fourth and par-3 fifth holes, Prestwick Country Club’s front nine is expected to close Dec. 14 and reopen in late January or early February.

The back nine will remain open and golfers will be able to play it twice for an 18-hole round at a special rate of $35 until the front nine reopens.

The bulkhead was rebuilt and a narrow bunker was installed above it on the par-3 16th hole at Prestwick Country Club. (Alan Blondin photo)

The work continues a bulkhead project that began in the winter of 2022, when retaining walls at the greens of holes 9, 16 and 18 were rebuilt.

A narrow bunker was added to the inside of the bulkhead on the left side of the par-3 16th green, and the clubhouse received new floors and patio furniture as part of the 2022 improvements.

Blackmoor completes project

Blackmoor Golf Club recently completed a drainage project that lasted about 5 ½ months and should significantly decrease the amount of times the course will require cart path-only restrictions.

According to Blackmoor general manager Bob Zuercher, the contractor installed 11.76 miles of drain line and pipe, 153 drainage basins, and 2,700 tons (approximately 125 truckloads) of coarse sand throughout the course during the installation.

Maintenance workers improve drainage in front of the 16th tee box at Blackmoor Golf Club. (Alan Blondin photo)

Zuercher said the results have been dramatic. Following a recent storm that dumped 2 ½ inches of rain on the property, Blackmoor returned to 90-degree cart traffic within 24 hours.

He said the maintenance staff can now accomplish mowing schedules, agronomic programs and applications without having to wait extended periods for the course to dry.

The engineered system was designed by Turf Drainage Company of America and installed by Turf Drainage Company of Florida.

Drainage grates were recently installed at Blackmoor Golf Club. (Alan Blondin photo)

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