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Real estate: Founders Club golf course on the market

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

It cost $1.5 million to build the Sea Gull Golf Course in 1966. After a $6.5 million renovation that turned it into the Founders Club in 2007, the course is on the market for $2.7 million.

“The owners just made the decision to sell it,” said Rick Taylor, general manager of the Classic Golf Group, which owns the course and two others. It recently sold a course in Aynor. Two of the partners in Classic Golf Group are among the six original partners who built the Sea Gull.

“I don’t know if that’s good news or not,” said Tom Stickler, president of the Hagley Estates Homeowners Association that is comprised of property owners in the neighborhood surrounding the course. Some residents are concerned the golf course could be turned into a housing development.

That would be difficult, said Boyd Johnson, the Georgetown County planning director. “On the future land use map we show it as recreational as opposed to residential,” he said. That was done at other golf courses as well after some golf courses in Myrtle Beach were redeveloped.

The zoning in Hagley is for single-family homes on lots of at least 10,000 square feet. Even if you could create lots on some fairways, it would be hard to meet the requirement for street frontage, Johnson said.

He hasn’t heard from anyone interested in changing the use of the golf course and sales information shows that the equipment and inventory are included in the price along with the 165 acres, pro shop, cart barn and maintenance building.

The course is doing well, Taylor said. “They’ve been pretty consistent,” he said. “Things could be better,” but that’s true at all area courses, he added.

Although golf rounds are flat nationally, the regional numbers are better, said Bob Seganti, director of golf operations at Caledonia Golf and Fish Club and True Blue. “The market has made a turn,” he said.

Seganti is also on the board of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday and chairs the Georgetown County Tourism Management Commission. Winter weather this year and last was tough on courses, but “everyone’s had a really good spring,” Seganti said. “Locally, some are doing better than others,” particularly the “high-end” courses, he said.

Seganti said he isn’t aware of any other area courses on the market.

A change in ownership of the Founders Club won’t affect an on-going project by Georgetown County to improve stormwater drainage in Hagley, said Ray Funnye, the county’s director of Public Works. The drainage project is now in its third phase. Planning started with the renovation of the golf course.

The county is now obtaining construction easements from property owners along Tyson and Hagley drives for the third phase of the project. At a meeting with the project staff last month, even residents who don’t front on those roads said they hope it will relieve flooding caused by runoff from the golf course.

Tracy Jones, the county’s stormwater manager, said when she started work nine out of 10 calls she got for drainage problems came from Hagley. She found that some of the plans for stormwater improvements in the golf course renovation hadn’t been carried out. The owners corrected that, she said.

But there’s a bigger problem. “All that runoff goes into the ditches and the ditches are undersized,” Jones said.

The current phase of the drainage work calls for installing a 48-inch square pipe that will drain water into tidal wetlands between Hagley and Heritage Plantation. “It’s the big gateway to solving all the little problems,” Jones told property owners. “I know they’re not little problems to you.”

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