By the end of the month there’ll be one less golf course operating along the Grand Strand.
Fulfilling a prophecy by some officials, Waterway Hills Golf Club plans to officially close June 30.
LStar Management, which bought the Robert Trent Jones golf course in March and has been publicly discussing redevelopment plans since January, said in a statement last week that the 27-hole layout was ceasing operations.
When LStar Communities purchased the North Myrtle Beach course this past March, it intended to operate the course for at least another year,” George Johnson, division vice-president of LStar’s coastal region, said in a statement. “However, when Myrtle Beach National sold the majority of their golf course assets, they notified LStar that they would no longer be available to manage golf course operations at Waterway Hills.”
Myrtle Beach National and several other courses formerly owned and operated by National Golf Management recently were sold to Founders Group International, a golf management firm operated by Chinese investors.
Waterway Hills, which National Golf Management operated, was not part of the deal with the Chinese.
“Efforts to find a viable alternative management company were unsuccessful,” Johnson said. “We recognize this closure will be unhappy news to those who have regularly supported the course and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause them.”
When Waterway Hills closes June 30, it will leave 93 18-hole equivalent courses in Horry, Georgetown and Brunswick counties.
Wicked Stick Golf Links near Surfside Beach plans to close in September, according to the golf course’s website.
Waterway Hills was perhaps best known for its iconic gondola that ferried golfers across the Intracoastal Waterway. It was only the second Robert Trent Jones course along the Grand Strand; the Dunes Golf and Beach Club is the other.
LStar has been busy in recent years buying property in Horry County, mainly along the northern end of the Strand, and has been concentrated primarily on residential and commercial real estate.
In December 2013, the Raleigh, N.C.-based developer bought the bulk of the Grande Dunes development, including the Grande Dunes Ocean Club’s 25,000-square-foot clubhouse, 10 tennis courts, the 131-slip Grande Dunes Marina and clubhouse and fitness center.
The deal also included the Grande Dunes Members Club, a private golf course adjacent to the Grande Dunes resort course, which itself sold to Chinese investors in April.
In January, a North Myrtle Beach spokesman told the Carolina Forest Chronicle that LStar was in negotiations to buy Waterway Hills, which is technically in the North Myrtle Beach city limits and borders the Grande Dunes Members Club.
Waterway Hills’ sale officially closed March 24 and is worth $16 million, according to Horry County property records.
The deal includes an additional parcel to the northwest of the physical golf course and encompasses 180.85 acres, records show.
City spokesman Pat Dowling said LStar in January unveiled a plan to the planning commission detailing redevelopment of Waterway Hills. The redevelopment included 740 high-end single family and multi-family units, and didn’t call for keeping the golf course open.
“I would think the golf course would go away,” Dowling told the Chronicle in February.
The LStar property could’ve accommodated as many as 2,500 units but the company scaled that back to 740.