The Struggle Is Real - News
In many different ways mentally, physically, financially, and personally, etc., we have struggled with what I am about to say. Before I go there, let me shed a little light on our history. My father, whom I credit with my Master’s degree in business (Un. Of SC for my Bachelors), was wise well beyond his years. With only an 11th grade education, he was by far the smartest man I ever knew. Everything you do, think it through as though it is going to work; but always have an exit strategy in case it doesn’t in the near or distant future.
Where We Came From
We started with 9 holes of farmland and operated out of the former tenant’s farm house, using the barn as a maintenance and cart facility. After 12+ years, we built an additional 9 holes taking us to 18 holes. Still using the original farm house, barn etc., we added on and remodeled a few times. When the opportunity came to purchase an additional 100 acres from the Budget and Control Board of the SC state government, we did. This provided the space to build an additional 9 holes, now taking us to a 27 hole course with a driving range and newly relocated clubhouse. As we designed the new layout my dad would say “make sure you don’t box yourself in. You never know what may happen down the road. Golf may not stay popular. Government regulations or some other expense may make it unaffordable or unreasonable to continue to operate.” With that in mind, we designed the golf course with multiple routings, crossings, and openings, etc., for that “just in case” day.
Fast forward.... Today is that “just in case” day. As we all know, golf became over saturated with courses in America and in our own neighborhoods. From the day we opened our doors back in the 1970’s, seven more courses have been built in the Midlands. Through several ups and downs in this economy, we’ve just ‘made-do’ over the years. No one could have imagined how long and severe this last, but still current, dip in our economy would be. Nor could anyone have predicted how fragile our economy still is with local, national and world events. I’d like to also mention that my father was born during the great depression and he’d always tell me the stories and consequences of that era and how it played out through his life and into mine.
Where We Are Now
Our business has survived! Period! It has survived every attack possible from mother nature, family crisis, economy, creditors, and banking. We bottomed out in 2014. While numbers were on the rise for 2015 and 2016, we were still nowhere near our hay day. Over the past 25+ years, I have been fortunate and blessed to serve on many boards/commissions locally and nationally. I’ve been surrounded with some of the brightest minds in the golf business as well as those in the general business world. I’ve looked into that crystal ball with their eyes and knowledge. While things are better, it will never again be near our hay day in my management life time. We are currently doing the business of a very healthy 18 hole facility but not enough to justify 27. I’ve hired the best experts in the country to evaluate every aspect of our business, our market, our demographics, our growth, and more. I have brought in some of the most respected minds in the nation for not only their expert opinions, but also their personal and business advice.
Where Are We Headed
Having three sons, there is one that truly loves this game and business as much as I do. I have tried to talk him out of it, but he insists on becoming 3rd generation. I, myself, can honestly say, ‘I couldn’t imagine doing anything else’. BUT… under the current circumstances, I would never suggest that anyone do this for a living. That being said, we’ve had to make some very difficult decisions. Some may see it as failure. Others, myself included, see it as a brilliant business decision. We have struggled mentally over a multitude of issues concerning and surrounding this decision. After evaluating our past years financials, talking with valued experts, and looking in the mirror, the decision on who we are and what we stand for became very clear. We have to return to 18 holes. Over the last 10+ years we have operated as 18 holes more than a few times. We closed 9 holes to renovate the white course greens. We closed 9 holes to renovate the red course greens. We also closed 9 holes to do some renovations on the blue course greens. Each of these time we operated as an 18 hole course, our number of golfing rounds remained the same; but we still incurred the heavy expense of having all 27 holes open. As of today, we have been an 18 hole course since June of 2016.
By going back to 18 holes, we can be true to ourselves and our Patrons. We are not the kind of people to just get by. We are not those that can accept this as the best we can do. Metaphorically speaking, we do not like what we see in the mirror, or rather on the course. While overall the conditions are great and constantly improving, we can do better. By going to 18 holes, we cut 1/3 or more of the expenses. We save on fertilizer, chemicals, water use, electric (to pump the water and resupply the ponds through the well), fuel, flags, cups, changing cups, equipment wear and tear, and property taxes just to name a few. We can utilize all of the same resources, labor, etc., we currently use on 27 holes and re-direct all that energy, time, desire, determination, and expectations into 18 holes. I promise you this… we want to be better, we want to be the best, and we want to rival dollar for dollar the best private clubs in Columbia (minus the additional expense of a pool or tennis facility). If an AC unit in the clubhouse were to fail, we can replace it immediately vs. waiting a year. We can attack deferred maintenance and deferred capital improvements. We’ll have the resources to do not only what we know how to do, but also what need to do without being spread so thin personnel and financial wise. By condensing the amount of land and inputs, we increase the quality of our outputs.
We are the addict that has now become clean and it is liberating! We can now focus on continually getting better. Our goal is to provide a better quality product and service to you.
We are going back to our roots. We will be closing 1-5 on the white course and 6-9 on the blue course. All 9 holes on the Red course will remain fully intact. Going forward, holes signs will be numbered 1-18. Play will begin on what you have come to know as #1Blue and continue as follows: Blue Course...1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, and 5B. You will then continue on to the White Course. You know these holes as 6W, 7W, 8W, and 9W. Number one on the Red Course will now be known as #10. At this time we, we will utilize #1 White as a practice/teaching or Dormy hole. We will also utilize #9 Blue (now located between the new #1 and #10 tees) as a practice/warm up area with fairway, rough, bunker and waste areas for practice.
History on the original 18 holes: When we were just a 9 hole course, the course was made up, in some version, of 6,7, 8 and 9 white (which were 1,2, 3,4,) and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 blue (which were 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). In a nutshell, we are returning to the original 9 holes as our front 9 holes.
We don’t yet have an exact date. We built two new greens, 3 Blue and 4 Blue. With the two extremely heavy downpours plus a tropical storm and hurricane, 3 Blue washed twice after planting. We sodded most of that green and it is now ready for play. To name a few, bunkers, paths, tee signs, and scorecards are the finishing touches being put on the blue course. Weather permitting, it should be ready soon.
Without change there would be no tomorrow. Although it is change, it is good change. It provides for our continuance as a business, supplies green space in our community, and continues to be an asset to our neighborhood and surrounding areas. We can become better operators and providers. You get a much better product and place to be proud of and call home. We can look ourselves in the mirror and say ‘job well done’. At this time, there are no plans for the remaining empty property. Hopefully, there will be development opportunities which will further enhance and accelerate all of the above. If not, maybe we plant pines...Haven’t gotten that far yet.
Thank you for all your past and continued support!
For the Charwood family