In 2014, the Myrtle Beach city council was heavily contemplating shutting down the city-owned Whispering Pines Golf Course.
The course that was given to the city by the Air Force when the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base closed in the early 90’s was steadily losing money—to the tune of $250,000 a year.
But the council decided to let an outside company give it a shot in managing Whispering Pines, hoping to at least break even and save the course that many local golfers loved.
The final management bid went to local golf course manager Chip Smith in November of 2014.
Smith pledged to turn the course around and eventually generate enough revenue to not only make up the annual deficit but to have enough left over to give back to the city.
This week, Smith’s management company returned a little over $53,000 to the city, a far cry from th losses the city had experienced over the last decade.
Smith said his company has spent $113,000 in capital improvements to renovate the course that at one time was a recreational amenity for the base.
And those renovations translate to a huge jump in course activity.
“This year, we’ll have 50,000 rounds played at Whispering Pines,” Smith said. “And I’m proud to say that most of our golfers are locals who have played there for many years.”
Smith said even with the cost of reworking the older facilities, he’s managed to keep the cost of a round of golf within $2 of the previous year.
He added that another popular aspect for the golfers is the amount of history of the Air Force base that’s been kept alive both in the clubhouse and on the course.
Mayor John Rhodes said the city is extremely proud of the turnaround that Smith has accomplished since taking over the city-owned course.
Rhodes said the $53,000 will be used for additional improvements at the facility, especially in updating the restrooms.
Councilmember Phil Render said the fate of the course was in doubt two years ago with serious discussion among councilmembers of closing it down.
“Now it’s an affordable place we all can be proud of,” Render said.
Whispering Pines is located directly across from the Myrtle Beach International Airport on Harrelson Boulevard.