Another golf course closing on the Grand Strand brings back fond memories for locals
It was winter in the Northeast and I was a 10-year-old boy sitting in a classroom staring at a clock, trying to make the hands move just a little faster. My Dad would pick my brother Brian and me up at school around noon on a Thursday and give the principal a note for our absence on Friday. I never knew what the note said, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t say we were going on a road trip to Myrtle Beach to play 90 holes of golf in three days.
The car would be packed with clothes and golf clubs and one of his buddies, usually Kenny Broderick or Frank Sherman, would be in the passenger seat. The nine-hour drive went quicker than you’d think, with all the talk about who was going to be partners with who and how many strokes were going to be given or received. Most of the time, the hotel of choice was the Caravelle Resort and the wager was always the same—the losing team had to jump in the pool. This scenario played out several times each winter. Everyone knew I had the coolest Dad in the world and they were right.
A lot of the golf courses had names that sounded neat to a kid, names like Robbers Roost, Gator Hole and Possum Trot, but when the Cypress Bay Golf Club opened in 1972, it was my immediate favorite. It seemed as if the course was made for my game, and some of the best scores I carded as a junior golfer were on that tract. So it was no surprise that I would have a condo at the Cypress Bay Golf and Tennis Resort. It was never a question of if, only when.
Then, in 2005, the rumors started to circulate that the golf course was closing and condos were going to be built. Anyone who lives on a golf course in Myrtle Beach (with a few exceptions) lives in fear of developers, but like many tragedies in life, you just never think it will happen to you. In a blink of the eye, rezoning of Cypress Bay was approved by the County Council and a meeting was scheduled by the new owners to meet with the condo owners. Site plans were distributed and timelines were made. The economy, however, didn’t get the memo, and before long the course was sold again at a fire sale price. Go forward eight years and the golf course is making a profit and looking better than ever. So it was a surprise when the course actually closed on February 23. The owners were a class act up to the end, and the new developers, Mungo Homes, have initiated a professional, open dialog with the condo owners.
My tee time on the last day was at noon and all morning long I watched from my balcony overlooking the first tee at the procession of familiar faces teeing off for the last time. Many early mornings have been spent sitting on that balcony drinking coffee, reading the newspaper and listening to the golfers on the first tee “talking trash” to each other and finalizing their friendly wagers. The round was bittersweet and, as fate would have it, I shot one of my best scores on the course, a 75.
Bill Jones was behind the counter in the clubhouse when I finished and he both celebrated and commiserated with my feelings. When he was 14 years old, the first golf course he ever played was Cypress Bay. That was 18 years ago and now Bill has worked the last five years as the teaching pro at Cypress Bay. He has since moved across the street to The Valley at Eastport golf course as their general manager, along with many Cypress Bay members, and continues his style of knowledgeable, friendly service.
John Whitty, the Director of Instruction at Colonial Charters golf course, and I reminded each other of memories from Cypress Bay and agreed on two absolute truths: 1. Anyone who has played the course more than once has hit a ball into the water on number 8. 2. Every golfer who can hit the ball over 200 yards thinks they can drive the ninth green and ends up in the parking lot.
The old course will be missed, but thankfully the remaining courses continue to promote junior golf and in doing so ensure the creation of good memories for future generations visiting our Grand Strand.