Golf No Longer The Worst Business In Myrtle Beach

Thanks to reader Scott for catching this Alan Blondin story about the end of the course closing trend in Myrtle Beach thanks to overbuilding and now, the housing market meltdown.

Sixteen area courses closed in 2005 and 2006, all with redevelopment plans that included housing developments.

But as the Beachwood and Azalea Sands owners struggled to gain approval of their jointly proposed planned-unit development and annexation into North Myrtle Beach by City Council, the business climate around them changed.

The rash of course closures has remedied a struggling golf market that had been saturated with layouts, and contributed to the flooding of a housing market that has been burdened with increased listings but slower sales over the past two years.


National homebuilders, who swarmed the area seeking large tracts of land and spurred the fire sale of courses, are no longer knocking on clubhouse doors.

"Builders overbuilt in 2006, and they've cut back," said Tom Maeser, president of the Fortune Academy of Real Estate and market analyst for the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors. "We're not seeing a lot of land acquisition right now. It's more selling existing inventory. I don't think we'll see the need for these golf courses being converted."

Where there were going to be up to 2,500 residential units, a town center featuring a regional shopping center, a resort hotel, offices and marina at Beachwood and Azalea Sands, there are now increased golf rounds and profits.

Though paid rounds on the Strand are down 215,000 through the first three quarters of the year compared to 2006 - to 2.69 million rounds according to statistics compiled for marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday - paid rounds per course are at 31,551, which is the highest since 1999.

Demand has increased and Strand course operators have raised rates nearly across the board in the past two years to further increase profitability.

"We're up like we're accustomed to being in years gone by," Elliott said. "Indications are for the courses that remain in play, the profitability factor is much better."