South Carolina state senator Dick Elliott, the owner of Eagle Nest Golf Club, compares course architects to homebuilders. If an architect and a builder do a good job, people become attached to their work, grateful for the creation of a product that brings joy over an extended period of time.
Elliott contracted with Hall of Fame architect Gene Hamm to build Eagle Nest in 1972, and the two developed an acquaintance that has spanned decades. Eagle Nest was one of the North Strand’s first layouts and it stood the test time, maintaining popularity in golf’s most competitive market.
Like a good home, a golf course needs the occasional update and Eagle Nest’s time had come. There was never a question about who would get Elliott’s first call.
“I called ‘ol Gene Hamm to come out of retirement to come back and redo the Eagle Nest and bring a new character, a new charm to it,” Elliott said of a project that kept the course closed from May 28 through its September 1 reopening.
That new charm included an overhaul of the course’s greens complexes. Hamm reshaped all the greens and oversaw the installation of MiniVerde, one of the most popular new strands of bermuda grass. The MiniVerde emulates many of the properties of bentgrass but is better able to handle the South Carolina heat.
The remade greens have much more undulation in them, and Hamm reshaped the green-side traps to enhance the course’s challenge.
“Every (green) that was old and original is new and innovative,” Elliott said. “If you knew the old Eagle Nest, you’ve got a new learning curve because there is no putt on any green that is the same. They have more character and a lot more speed.”
The project also included the reconstruction of several tees, most notably numbers 4, 8, 16, 17 and 18. Hamm toughened his original design by adding length to holes that were already billed the most difficult finish on the Grand Strand. The tees on 16 and 17 were moved back approximately 25 yards and the fairways re-cut, giving the Eagle Nest staff more options in how they want to set the course up.
A new championship tee was added on No. 18, lengthening the hole for golfer’s that play from the tips and bringing a lake into play
“(The course) is very playable, very golfer friendly,” Elliott said. “It can be set up where it’s difficult, too. It probably has as much range as any course on the coast.”
Eagle Nest is a 4-star course, according to Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play” guide, but the enhancements have improved a layout that has been a comfortable home for golfers visiting the Grand Strand for more than three decades.
“I think (Hamm) did a magnificent job recreating and making much better what was already a good product,” Elliott said.
Sports Stars Come To Grand Strand To Raise Money To Fight Prostate Cancer
A host of sports stars came to the Grand Strand for last month’s “Know Your Score: Fight Prostate Cancer” Celebrity Golf Tournament. Ken Griffey, Sr., the tournament chairman, led a gala of stars that included 10-time NBA champion and hall of famer Sam Jones, 2001 World Series hero Tony Womack and golf announcer Jim Huber.
The celebrity tournament was held at Long Bay Club on August 23 and a silent auction and gala, held in association with the 25th anniversary PGA TOUR Superstore World Amateur Handicap Championship, were held that evening.
The Know Your Score: Fight Prostate Cancer campaign is a Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday initiative that hopes to raise $250,000 to aid in the fight against prostate cancer. To date $80,000 has been raised.
You can help by donating online or participating in closest to the pin contests that will be held at Myrtle Beach courses throughout the fall.
Virginia, Tennessee Teams Capture Fall Palmetto High School Golf Championships
High school golf teams from as far away as Arizona came to the Grand Strand last weekend to participate in the fourth annual Fall Palmetto High School Golf Championship.
Centreville (Va.) High School won the boys event on the strength of Noori Hyun’s play. Hyun was 1-under for the 36-hole tournament and led his team to a 12-stroke win. Dobyns-Bennett (Kingsport, Tenn.) finished second. Centreville shot 615. (final leaderboard)
The Baylor School, located in Chattanooga, Tenn., shot a second-day 302 and cruised to a 13-stroke victory in the girls tournament. Playing without their No. 2 player, the Raiders shot a two-day total of 599 to win the Palmetto for the third consecutive year. Lexington (S.C.) High School finished second (613). (final leaderboard)
“We love coming down here,” Baylor coach King Oehmig said. “It’s a treat for the girls. The South Carolina coast is such a great spot. It gives us a totally different venue and some great teams (to play against) … This is exciting. Our girls are having a ball and they can’t wait to get out to the beach (after the tournament).”
Baylor also had three of the top six finishers in the individual competition, but Lexington (S.C.) High School’s Maureen Dunnagan won medalist honors. Dunnagan shot a 1-under 71 to rally from a two-stroke deficit.