October 11, 2015 – After opening as a private club in 1989 and being at least semi-private with club memberships for the past 26 years, Prestwick Country Club is eliminating golf memberships and becoming solely a daily fee golf course on Dec. 31.
Club owner The Jackson Companies is also ceasing to operate the tennis and swim facilities at the club after Dec. 31, and according to a letter to homeowners, it has offered to lease or convey those amenities to the community’s Property Owners Association for $1 each so they can remain in operation at the discretion of the POA.
The Jackson Companies chief executive officer Dennis Wade said the company intends to continue operating the golf course for the foreseeable future.
“The golf course has not been sold and at the present time, the company has no plans to sell the golf course,” Wade said via email. “Our plans are to continue to operate Prestwick as a daily fee course. However, as with any asset of our company, we will always consider and explore any options that may be in the best interests of the business and our owners.”
Prestwick Property Owners Association president Jeff Patterson said the POA needs more time to assess the changes and offers for the tennis and swim facilities before making any decisions.
“The Jackson Companies has always been a good member of the Property Owners Assocation,” Patterson said. “It’s too early to comment on any issues they’ve put out there. We’ll take a look at what’s best for our community and take action from there. Beyond that there isn’t anything I can say. It’s way too early to speculate.”
The Prestwick tennis facility includes 11 clay courts and two hard courts, a pro shop, locker facilities and a half Olympic-size swimming pool. Will Bull is the property’s head tennis professional.
The Prestwick golf course is a 7,086-yard par-72 designed by Pete Dye and son P.B. Dye. Golf Digest named it “One of the Five Best Kept Secret Golf Courses In America” in 2004 and it was recently ranked No. 5 among Pete Dye-designed courses in America by the Golf Advisor rating and review site.
The course is on the mid- to high end of green fees in the Grand Strand golf market with walk-in rates reaching $135.
In a statement, Wade stated: “As most in the golf industry are aware, the number of golfers and rounds played have declined over much of the last decade.
The membership model has not been a successful model for us. … We concluded the private/semi-private club business model is not a viable one for Prestwick, but we were determined to find a way to keep Prestwick open because the golf course is an important amenity within the Prestwick community.
“… We have operated Prestwick in its current form for 26 years, but as the market around us has changed and continues to change, it is imperative that we position Prestwick so it can be successful.”
The statement also said the company will refund all non-equity membership initiation fees to members who were active and in good standing in 2015. The initiation fees may have been paid several years ago.
The Jackson Companies also owns and operates Ocean Lakes Family Campground and is developing the SayeBrook and Ocean Lakes Village communities. They are all part of what company director of marketing and public relations Barb Krumm said is 2,700 acres of land the company owns on the south end of Myrtle Beach.
The Jackson Companies expects the changes to result in some positions being eliminated. Wade said in the statement the company will make every effort to find those employees other suitable positions within The Jackson Companies, which has also set aside funding for severance packages for those where comparable positions are not available.