In the 1980’s, Myrtle Beach tee times in early March were as hard to find as hen’s teeth. The phenomenon known as Myrtle Beach golf had taken off. Love for the sport would ultimately lead to the construction of over 100 area courses as baby boomers poured into our resort area during the Spring season.
Fast forward to March 2016, golf tourism is now at an all time low. Most baby boomers have now retired or are retiring to their favorite resort towns along the East Coast. This generation is now joining or playing a course in their own resort neighborhoods. Less than 23% of former Baby Boomers travel to play on a Myrtle Beach golf vacation.
In May of 2015, a company called National Golf Management sold 12 area golf courses to the Chinese through a local realtor named Jane Zheng. National Golf Management was a conglomerate company created by two local corporate giants, the Myrtle Beach National group, (which was managed by Matthew Brittain) and Burroughs and Chapin (which is managed by Jim Apple). Many local residents believe the conglomerate was formed for one specific reason only, to exit the golf market by selling the combined assets of the two local corporate giants. Selling the courses in this manner helped lower the liability should the new buyers become disenchanted with their purchase.
The buyers in this case were an investment group from the country of China. The deal was encouraged and fostered by the Myrtle Beach mayor, as well as Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President, Brad Dean. Each of these Myrtle Beach ambassadors made trips to the country of China to promote this and other investment deals. Mayor Rhodes has taken as many as 8 trips for just such asset sales.
PAID AD STEPHEN EVANS CPA
Club & Resort Business filed this report at the time of last May’s 2015 purhase: The sale of its 12 golf courses and other assets last week to the Chinese ownership company Founders Group International did not result in the demise of National Golf Management, the Myrtle Beach (S.C.)-based Sun News reported. The company endures as a now-small business re-branded as Strand Golf Management that is managing operations at two courses formerly run by NGM. Strand Golf Management has assumed the lease and management contracts at Arcadian Shores Golf Club and Waterway Hills Golf Links and expects to manage those properties for the foreseeable future, the News reported.
Just after this report, however, Waterway Hills would be closed forever.
Mayor John Rhodes and County Councilman Mark Lazarus recently called a press conference announcing a new $100 million dollar investment by Chinese investors to build an Epcot-Like Chinese Cultural Center. You can see the report filed by local T.V. station WBTW by clicking the link here. You can also read a few crass and controversial local comments at the bottom of that article.
One comment we found posted on March 1, 2016 in social media filed under an article concerning the anticipated news of this investment caught our eye in particular, however. We recognized the Facebook name of the poster and realized this person was someone highly connected to last year’s May purchase of the 12 golf courses. As China is such an honor culture, this person has chosen an American sounding identity on Facebook. Since China’s culture holds honor in high esteem, we are not revealing the identity of this person, nor the article it was posted under, but thought it newsworthy. Note the very first comments here by a Candy Cranch.
Local merchants in the Downtown Redevelopment District have been concerned that a Chinese takeover of that area managed through future relationships with Burroughs and Chapin have been likely. Such may still be the case.
However, posts online have now revealed that the bloom is certainly off the rose on last year’s Chinese golf course investment.
Many Myrtle Beach locals speak of deals like this one in dark corners and in hushed tones. Such deals are called the Myrtle Beach handshake. The Myrtle Beach Handshake has kept many savvy investors and potential would be opportunities from happening in our area.