Hurricane Florence inflicted untold millions of dollars of damage on the Carolinas, but most of the popular resort destinations along the coastline were not hit as hard as initially feared.
The hurricane looked like it was going to deliver a direct Category 4 blast to the coastline where North Carolina and South Carolina meet. The storm weakened as it made landfall but still wreaked havoc as it moved slowly across the Carolinas. But the damage was not as bad as initially feared.
North Myrtle Beach, S.C., Mayor Marilyn Hatley told the Myrtle Beach Sun News that she felt “blessed and thankful” that the area, while hit hard, didn’t suffer the devastation that had been anticipated.
Hatley’s town and the rest of the Grand Strand is a major resort destination, with the fall season being an important time for golf travel. It appears that most of the region’s resorts and courses will rebound quickly from the hurricane.
Founders Group International, the area’s largest course operator with 22 courses, expects most of its courses to be open by Sept. 18, with the remainder opening a few days later. Founders Group’s courses include TPC Myrtle Beach, Grande Dunes and Pawleys Plantation. The two exceptions might be Long Bay and Aberdeen. Those courses didn’t suffer structural damage but could be closed because of access issues, according to Chris King, spokesman for Golf Tourism Solutions, the agency that promotes the area as a destination.
King noted that golfers planning to visit the area in the week following the storm will need to check on the status of roads that provide access to the area. For example, state officials are sand-bagging 1½ miles of the Waccamaw River to try to prevent flooding of U.S. Route 501, one of the major routes into Myrtle Beach.
Resorts plan to reopen quickly, provided the region is not hit by additional, unanticipated heavy rains. King passed along information on other resorts’ reopening plans:
- East Coast Golf Management expects all 22 courses with which it has relationships to be open by the weekend of Sept. 21. Its courses include Thistle, Pearl, Sandpiper Bay and Crow Creek.
- Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach will open one course by Sept. 18 and its remaining three course by Sept. 20.
- Tidewater Golf Club will reopen no later than Sept. 20.
- Caledonia and True Blue expect to open no later than Sept. 19, perhaps a day earlier.
- Legends Resort plans to open two of its courses by Sept. 18 and the third by Sept. 19.
Elsewhere in the Carolinas, many courses suffered little impact from Hurricane Florence.
- Along North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Kilmarlic, The Pointe and The Carolina Club suffered minimal impact and reopened Sept. 15. Nags Head Golf Links and Currituck Club will reopen Sept. 17.
- On Hilton Head Island, Atlantic Dunes and Heron Point at Sea Pines Resort are open, and Harbour Town Golf Links will reopen Sept. 17.
- Nearby, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort’s Robert Trent Jones Course is open, and it plans to reopen its Arthur Hills and George Fazio courses Sept. 17.
- Shipyard Golf Club, part of the Heritage Golf Collection, is open, and sister courses Oyster Reef and Port Royal will reopen Sept. 17.
- Sun City, an active-adult community in Bluffton, S.C., plans to open its three courses at noon on Sept. 17.
The following course are open: The Golf Club at Hilton Head Lakes, Hilton Head National, Island West Golf Club, Pinecrest Golf Club and Old South. Gwk