11/26/2014

East Coast Golf Management has introduced something brand new for Myrtle Beach Golf.  The company operates Azalea Sands Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach and they are “thinking outside the box” with some new ideas.  They recently introduced larger holes to the Myrtle Beach golf market.  The new cups are 8 inches in diameter, which is nearly twice as large as the standard 4.25 inches.  All 18 holes as well as the practice putting green have the new cups in place.

A.J. Sawyer, head pro at East Coast properties Azalea Sands and Indigo Creek stated that it is to speed up play and make golf a little more fun.  “I think that the time it takes to play golf and the difficulty of the game are issues.  We’re trying to bring new golfers into the game” said Sawyer.

Sawyer also stated that the plans are to go with the new holes full time.  The thoughts are that it makes sense to make the 5-8 foot putts easier.  “You really can’t tell its larger until your close to the hole.  It looks bigger but it is not obscene.”

East Coast representatives realize that the larger holes aren’t for everyone.  Serious golfers that try to maintain a handicap with the USGA guidelines probably won’t be as favorable to the idea as the casual golfer.  In trying to come up with new ideas to help with the struggling golf business, East Coast plans to stick to their guns for a while to see how people like the new concept.  They wanted to introduce the idea this winter to see how it is received before the busy spring Myrtle Beach golf season.

‘It’s the most appropriate course among our properties to try to roll something out like this,” Sawyer said.  Azalea Sands introduced the Kilted Caddy Club when it leased out the food and beverage operation.  The Kilted Caddy provides caddies, occasional live music and the offering of Bluetooth speakers so golfers can play music on their carts.  Sawyer said “we already have the Caddy Club at Azalea, so it is already a loose and fun atmosphere and we have music playing.  The guys who are coming out with the caddies may be interested in having music playing and those are the guys who would probably enjoy an 8-inch cup.”

“I know it’s a scary thing,” Sawyer said.  “We’ve already had some backlash from members and some people, and we’ve had people who really like it.”

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO had a segment this year on HackGolf, which had introduced 15-inch holes.  East Coast officials believe a hole that large is too extreme of a divergence from traditional golf for the sport and market.

“I think 8-inch holes are cool,” Sawyer said, “I realize you can’t have serious events with them.  But when you’re out with your friends having fun on a Friday afternoon, why not?  I’d like to make a few more birdies, I know that.”

Sawyer also stated that players can expect to take a couple of strokes and several minutes off their rounds with the larger cups.

“A lot of the courses in California are trying [larger holes],” Sawyer said.  “They are having some success with it and we figure, why not, let’s give it a shot.  If the reaction goes the other way then maybe we’ll go back to the 4.25 cups and have an 8-inch day.”