Arcadian Shores Golf Club, the first solo design of renowned golf course architect Rees Jones, is set to reopen as early as next week following its most extensive renovation project since its opening in 1974.
The course has a new clubhouse, new greens and new cart paths among its improvements.
“We’re very thankful we’ve had this opportunity and the team can’t wait to get open and show all the changes we’ve done,” Arcadian Shores general manager Frank Coughlin said. “We’re very, very excited.”
The 6,857-yard par-72 was named one of the top 100 courses in the U.S. by Golf Digest shortly after its opening. It closed in mid-May and six-year course superintendent Eric Covelli oversaw the work.
“I think the sky is the limit,” Coughlin said of the course’s potential. “First off it is Rees’ first solo design. He calls it his baby. The location and the layout, and now with the greens, and the new clubhouse, the cart paths, the amenities, I think it can take its rightful place back near the top or at the top here at the beach.”
Arcadian Shores was Jones’ first true solo work after he broke from the design firm of his father, Robert Trent Jones, whose designs include The Dunes Golf and Beach Club and nearby Waterway Hills Golf Club, which is now closed.
In addition to the more than 150 designs Rees Jones has built or remodeled, he has gained the nickname “The Open Doctor,” for his preparation of courses to host U.S. Opens.
Jones once had five layouts on the Strand but is down to Arcadian Shores and the Jones Course at Sea Trail Resort, as Gator Hole, Belle Terre and Wild Wing Plantation’s Falcon Course have all closed and have been or are being redeveloped.
Arcadian Shores was rumored to be on the chopping block as well because of the value of the land, but property owner Burroughs & Chapin Co., has made a commitment to improving the course.
The large Grand Strand landowner had a 38-year lease of the course to Hilton Hotel Group expire in 2012, then took over its operation shortly after management company National Golf Management sold nearly all of its golf assets to Founders Group International in April 2015.
“I think the fact they’re putting money in it means they’re not going to close it and sell it for real estate, so I’m thankful for that,” Jones said Monday. “Those green contours are some of the best in the world. They had great transitions, and we had a great shaper. I think that’s why we made the top 100 initially.”
During this summer’s renovation project, the greens were changed from an older form of Bermudagrass to Sunday ultradwarf Bermuda, which is featured at Rivers Edge Golf Club in Shallotte, N.C., and green collars were created with Latitude Bermuda.
Cart paths were completely repaved, both on-course bathrooms were rebuilt, a few areas around the course were cleaned up or beautified, irrigation systems around all greens were replaced, bunkers were edged, new carts and maintenance equipment have been leased, and the entrance and parking lot are being expanded and repaved.
The clubhouse features a few TVs, open kitchen, bar, bartop seating both near the kitchen and across the room with tables in between, back patio overlooking the 18th green and driving range that has nine tables, golf shop, offices, a storage area for equipment including the course’s 18 sets of rental clubs, free wifi, and cart storage beneath it.
The clubhouse will likely be used for training, group meetings and other B&C company functions.
The food and beverage menu will include grill and fry items and the bar has a liquor license. Coughlin said increased options are likely for the menu in the near future, including healthy selections.
“We’re just trying to make the experience all that it can be and what we think it should be, keeping the service levels high and continuing to raise those levels,” Coughlin said. “We’re different now, and that’s the attitude the staff has taken is we’re different and we need to show that in terms of the customer service, in terms of the golf course and the facilities.”
Mike Lutsky has been a PGA teaching pro at Arcadian Shores since 2006, and Coughlin said a teaching academy has been discussed for the course. A building that houses the range ball dispenser near the range has been rebuilt and could be expanded to house the academy.
“We’re always striving and looking to do different things,” Coughlin said. “We’ve discussed a golf academy, junior clinics and growth of the game initiatives to get more people interested in the game.”
Rates are expected to increase at least slightly, though Arcadian Shores will maintain a local rate. “We think that’s very, very important with the community. Locals should be afforded the opportunity to play it,” Coughlin said.
The course will likely have a grand reopening celebration in the near future.
Jones is interested in being a part of future renovation projects at the course, especially a rebuilding of the bunker complexes.
“I’d love to re-study and redo the bunkers. I’ve got the old photos and they were spectacular,” Jones said. “[Arcadian Shores] was a great project in my lifetime, and of course I love the place, so I hope they bring me back. It was very important in my career, my first top 100 course. I hope they keep improving it and I’d like to be a part of it.”