Episode #11: Several Myrtle Beach Golf Courses Take Green Approach in 2020, What Does That Mean For the Golfer? 01/21/2020
Meredith: Welcome to the Gimme Golf podcast, I'm Meredith Kirk, your host. Joining me today is General Manager of Blackmoor Golf Club, Bob Zuercher, and PGA Head Golf Professional at World Tour Golf Links, Brad Crumling.
Meredith: Blackmoor and World Tour are two of the 17 Myrtle Beach area designs that have overseeded, wall to wall, ensuring golfers will enjoy green grass as far as the eye can see for our Spring golf season.
Meredith: Hey everyone, welcome to the Gimme Golf podcast, this is episode number 11. We are going to talk about going green. What do I mean by going green? I'm talking about 17 Myrtle Beach area golf courses that have overseeded, wall to wall. These courses are now all green, from tees, fairways, rough, and the greens, and they're all in great shape.
Meredith: Joining me today, I have two very special guests, and they're going to help give us a lot of information about what it means to go green. So, joining me today is General Manager from Blackmoor Golf Club, Bob Zuercher. Bob, thanks for coming on the show today.
Bob: You're welcome. It's a fantastic opportunity to be here with you.
Meredith: I'm excited to hear about things going on at Blackmoor!
Meredith: Also, we have Brad Crumling, Head Golf Professional, PGA Head Golf Professional, from World Tour. Brad, thanks for coming on the show.
Brad: Thank you for having me, it's a pleasure to be here.
Meredith: All right. I have so many questions about what it means to go green. I mean, what is this all about, going green?
Meredith: Bob, I'm going to start with you. Share, maybe, the process that you've been going through at Blackmoor Golf Club?
Bob: All right. I think it's good to say that, in the last few years, most golf course on the Grand Strand moved away from over seeding roughs. I mean, we typically would do the tees and fairways. There's a portfolio, or a group of golf courses, that have made a decision to add a new, exciting twist, if you will, to the experience available for our players.
Bob: That involves, primarily, overseeding the roughs. It's just a matter of overseeding, and establishing a rye grass base in the roughs. It certainly improves the aesthetic value of the experience, and to some degree, the playability. Not to say that courses that don't overseed are any less playable.
Bob: But, if you're a player, such as myself, and spend a little bit of time in the rough, it certainly gives you some additional opportunity to recover.
Meredith: Okay. So, it's less tight lies, you would say?
Bob: That is correct.
Meredith: Okay. Well, that's a good thing. I'm with you, that's the kind of golf I'm playing right now.
Meredith: Brad, how about yourself, what going on at World Tour?
Brad: We, along with several other courses within our company, have heard the feedback from our guests, with what Bob at Blackmoor, and a couple other courses have done in the past. Our guests that travel in the spring wanted all green conditions. As the guest wants, we've decided we're going to give them what they want, followed by Bob and some other's leads.
Brad: I can't complain at all, the courses right now are in absolutely fantastic condition.
Meredith: Now, as you know a player, I know you go out and play a lot, as a PGA professional. Do you notice a difference, does it affect your game? How is that for you?
Brad: Certainly. I think, like Bob said, it's definitely more playable. The courses, you do get tight lies when you don't overseed. Especially when it gets wet, it can get trampled down, the dormant Bermuda grass. Having the overseed there, to give you a more plush rough to hit out of ... I may benefit a little more if we could overseed in the woods, so it would be a little more playable there, but for now, I think it's been great that we're doing it wall-to-wall.
Meredith: Right. It definitely makes the course look more beautiful. I mean, going green is our theme here, on our topic, and literally, it's green. It looks like spring in the winter, it's like having flowers through the winter.
Bob: Meredith, it's been very interesting to see, or realize the response from our local players, this early on. The feedback's been extremely positive, and it certainly has created a new buzz or excitement.
Meredith: Do you think it's going to increase golf play here, in the winter time months? I mean, I know we get a lot of early birds, and we do have golf year-round here, in Myrtle Beach. But, do you think it's going to effect that?
Bob: I certainly think the potential is there, and we certainly hope it does.
Brad: I certainly think, with the marketing efforts that we're putting forth in it, and letting our golfers know that all these courses have gone wall-to-wall, I definitely think it's going to help some.
Meredith: Now, how does this work for maintenance? How do you maintain this? Is it harder on the greens crew, or is it easier, how does that work?
Bob: Superintendents don't like it, do they?
Meredith: I know. Bob, you are ... Although you have been General Manager for many decades, now, at Blackmoor, but at heart, you're at Superintendent?
Bob: I do have an agronomic background. Overseeding does present some challenges, if you will. It certainly requires some additional inputs. Of course, the cost of the seed, and the need to mow those rough areas more consistently throughout the winter, but I think the trade off is beneficial. There's some small opportunities for better water control, if you will. You have an active plant growing in the canopy, which tends to use some water. In many cases, one could say that it does dry out the golf course, at least to a small percent.
Bob: It also creates a better opportunity for the maintenance crew to truly do what they do best, because they're maintaining a golf course that's green, year round.
Nate: Yeah. There's no setup and go anymore, in the wintertime.
Meredith: Now, do you foresee this taking place at several other courses? Not just here, in the Myrtle Beach area. I mean, we have 17, right now, that we're getting ready to list of to you, our listeners, so you guys know which courses have gone green. But, do you see this as a trend that will take place, maybe nationwide?
Brad: I certainly feel as though, with a good number of courses adding onto Bob, and a few others, that have done it in the past, that if we get enough, and we think it's been successful, I certainly think more courses in the Myrtle Beach area will definitely do it.
Brad: I'd have to imagine if the rumor gets out to other areas of the country, that typically don't overseed, I have to think they'll follow along in the future, as well.
Bob: I absolutely agree. I'm not so sure, Meredith, that some other destinations aren't already beginning to make that transition back to overseeding.
Nate: Let's say ... We've been around here for years, and years past, it was uncommon for people not to overseed, wall-to-wall.
Bob: That's correct.
Nate: Then, golf hit, we'd say, a roadblock, right? We had, obviously, diminishing players, so we'd look at where we'd cut costs. That was one of the first things you would do, is you'd cut costs by not overseeding your roughs. That's how it started.
Bob: You're absolutely right, Nate.
Bob: From an analytical standpoint, if you look at the data of the past, I think one can correctly assume that overseeding or not overseeding probably has impacted the package play on the Grand Strand.
Nate: So, do you think people maybe went further South, or do they ... I just think the problem with the not overseeding is some courses look great, because it's defined, but golfers aren't educated. We don't educate them as far as, okay, the roughs aren't dead, they're just dormant right now.
Nate: I think, just explaining it to the golfers, and their understanding it, I think is ... It's not a big percentage. A lot of people understand it, but there's some that don't. You'll see comments that, "the roughs were dead." Its like, well that's not the case.
Bob: I think, too Nate, that a lot of our package players in the Spring come from the Northern locations. Frequently, they've experienced snow, and a pretty hard winter.
Nate: They want to see green, right?
Bob: Compared to what we see here, on the Grand Strand.
Bob: I think they're definitely excited to see the green.
Meredith: Now, when it comes to playability, how is the grass different than the summer? I'm actually asking this, personally, for myself. When it comes to ... Now that you have overseeded, playability, is it slightly different, when you're playing on the course? From winter to summer? Or, is it actually very close?
Brad: It's similar, but I'll pass this over to Bob, because he knows grasses a lot better than us. The rye grass that you see out there in the wintertime, while it's just as green as the Bermuda in the summertime, there's a different texture to it.
Brad: We all know when we take a divot with Bermuda grass, it just shreds to pieces, whereas with the rye grass, you're going to take a long divot more often. Bob, you can probably explain that a little better than I can.
Bob: Well, I think from an agronomic standpoint, it's probably best explained in that dormant Bermuda grass tends to shrink back, that's its natural reaction to the cold. Depending on the given year, that shrink can be pretty extreme, which really allows for a more open canopy, if you will.
Bob: By overseeding that canopy, we can consistently expect to have a better opportunity for the lie of that ball, across all areas on the golf course.
Meredith: Right. That actually brings me to my next question, speaking of weather and cold. This year, we've been very fortunate, we've had a mild winter, but last year it was not the case. It was very cold last year. How does overseeding affect years or winter seasons that may be colder than other times?
Bob: I think it just provides a more consistent opportunity for green, from an aesthetic standpoint, and playability.
Nate: Rye grass, ideally, you can keep it alive through May? You can look green through May, is that ...
Bob: Yeah, Nate, I think that's practical.
Bob: Probably even into June.
Nate: June? Okay.
Bob: Certainly, longer than we would without it.
Nate: I know in Maine, when you'd have those winter kills. Then, the first thing you do ... You obviously kill your bed grass, you go out and you throw some rye grass down. That's just a temporary ... Like I said, it's just a temporary solution. I had an understanding of rye grass as a quick fix, it doesn't stay. Even in Maine, it does get in the 80s. Then, all of a sudden, you're in your peak season, in June or July, and your grass is checking out on your greens, when it's peak.
Nate: But, again, people want to start the season off ... It's like, what happened to your greens? Well, winter kill. That's obviously North.
Meredith: Well, we have 17 courses. Nate, I want you to tell our viewers what courses have gone green. Also, we have a very special package for our listeners, that's pretty exciting. Why don't you share with them what that is?
Nate: Yeah. Right now, if you go to MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com, you will see that we have a Myrtle Beach Going Green package. You can play all the courses that are overseeded wall-to-wall, you can go green, and save some green on that package. You do get a bit of a ... It's a special package.
Nate: The courses included in that are Man O'War, Witch, Wizard, Arrowhead Country Club, Eagle Nest, Blackmoor Golf Club, TPC Myrtle Beach, Long Bay Golf Club, World Tour Golf Links, Kings North at Myrtle Beach National, both courses at Myrtlewood, the Palmetto and the Pine Hills course, Wild Wing, Tradition, River Club, Willbrook Plantation, and Pawleys Plantation.
Nate: Okay, read those back real fast. Yeah, there's a cool package there. We've already gotten a lot of people that have already booked that package.
Meredith: Where can our listeners go? Is it MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com?
Nate: You can go to MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com, and right in the top, you'll see specials. You can go right to the package page, and that'll take you there, you can browse all the specials there, too. Pretty cool place, and you can read about the golf courses. We've done a couple stories on those courses, so you can read about them and select the ones you want.
Nate: Again, to Bob's point, there are 17 that went green, but that doesn't mean that, just because they didn't overseed, that you don't play those golf courses. Obviously, it's just roughs that are the difference. Some people like that look.
Bob: Right. It just provides another opportunity for those that desire that.
Meredith: Well, I like the going green, I like the all green look. I want to give Blackmoor Golf Club a plug here, because I love Blackmoor. I mean, I'm a Murrell's Inlet girl, and Bob was always so generous to me, I taught there six years, and very supportive of junior golf at Blackmoor Golf Club. I know that you participate ... I believe you do, in the Kids Play Free in the summer, that junior golfers could come out with an adult, and play golf. So, Bob, I think it's great that you've always done that.
Meredith: The course is beautiful. I will say, Blackmoor Golf Club is one of my favorite courses on the Southern end. It's so beautiful, the wildlife there is amazing. It's an experience, when you go out there and play. I mean, it's a fun Gary Player design, it's very player friendly for the women and the men, but it's just beautiful. Knowing now that you guys have gone green, it's always been beautiful, it's just extra beautiful now. I would say, bring a camera, and get some pictures when you go out and play, because you can't beat Blackmoor, it's just gorgeous.
Nate: Do you still have the turkeys out there?
Bob: We do, indeed.
Nate: Yeah, yeah.
Bob: In fact, we have deer as well, to the degree that they eat some of our annual plants from time to time.
Bob: Meredith, I really appreciate your comments, and know that we appreciate your involvement over the past years, and the culture that you've helped us establish, there. We also are involved in a new initiative, Project Golf, that's occurring here on the Grand Strand. It's been very exciting to see that there really are some people out there that want to get involved in the game.
Bob: I think Project Golf, just to give that initiative a little plug, is just a tremendous opportunity, here, locally, to learn the game, learn the fundamental basics of the game. We've actually seen a number of those players continue in the game, and play rounds after the initial introductory phase. It's just a fantastic opportunity.
Bob: Yeah, that's great.
Nate: It's been a good program.
Meredith: That's great. Blackmoor is such a great course to go out and play, especially if you're intimidated by golf. I mean, again, the course is so player friendly, the people are so nice. Your staff is amazing. I mean, you have some staff that have been out there for decades, I just love everybody out there.
Meredith: It's a place that you go to, if you are intimidated to play golf, or you haven't played a lot of golf. From the moment that you pull into the parking lot, everybody is so kind, you automatically feel comfortable there. That's one thing I love about it, it has very much a family-feel there, so I can see why the players from the Project X, who are just getting into the game, would feel really comfortable going to your course. It is a great place to go out, you have a great practice facility, as well.
Meredith: One of my favorite ranges, on the Southern end. It's nice, it's really easy to follow the ball. It's flat I like that, your range and everything. So, great place to practice, as well. I love Blackmoor. I miss it, I need to go out there, Bob, and see you guys again, and come out and play. It's been a while.
Bob: You're certainly welcome anytime.
Meredith: Also, World Tour, Brad, your course is amazing. Every time I'm out at World Tour, I always think about the Masters. I wonder why that is?
Brad: I don't know. It's not like we have four holes there, that are replicated after Augusta National, I don't understand.
Meredith: Have you received a lot of feedback from golfers coming off the course, going green?
Brad: Oh, certainly. Certainly. It starts from before the round. They take a look from the back patio, or outside the door of the golf shop and they see everything green, and they're like, "Wow."
Nate: You've got such an awesome view back there.
Brad: Yeah, it certainly is. They look out and they're like, "Wow, this place looks immaculate." In all honesty, it really is. Scott [inaudible 00:17:30] and his staff have done an incredible job this winter, in getting everything good to go for the wall-to-wall.
Meredith: Well, great. Thank you so much for joining me on this podcast. Like Nate said, you can go to MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com, and you can check out the list of the courses that have gone green, and have the opportunity to save a little money and schedule your next Myrtle Beach golf-
Nate: Save some green!
Meredith: Yeah, save some green, when you come to Myrtle Beach.
Nate: That didn't take a marketing genius to come up with that line. I'll tell you.
Meredith: All right, gentlemen, thank you so much for your time, I'm excited, and I can't wait to get back to your courses, and get out there and play green courses. Sounds fun to me.
Bob: Thank you, Meredith.
Brad: Thank you, Meredith, appreciate it.
Meredith is joined by General Manager of Blackmoor Golf Club, Bob Zuercher and PGA Head Golf Professional at World Tour Golf Links Brad Crumling. Blackmoor and World Tour are two of the seventeen Myrtle Beach-area designs that have overseeded wall to wall ensuring golfers will enjoy green grass as far as the eye can see for the spring season.
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