Latest Grand Strand golf season in the rough

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Golf season may not have been a hole in one for the Grand Strand. Numbers are down this spring which impacts us beyond the green.

Golf, it's a business that completely relies on good weather, and with over 100 golf courses, it's a business the Grand Strand relies on. Golf impacts local hotels, restaurants and the Grand Strand economy as a whole.

For two years in a row, the number of rounds of golf played during the spring are down. Down about 11%  this March, compared to last year, according to Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday. After one of the worst winters in decades, this comes as no surprise to Grand Strand golf pros.

"February into March and pretty much the entire month of March, just the amount of playable days we had was on the decline, therefore with not a lot of playable days, you're not gonna have a lot of people out there," Edward Willever, Shaftesbury Glen Golf Course Pro said.

For Shaftesbury Glen, in Conway, they're not just fighting with the weather.

"Location, location, location! Some of our golf courses we're a little bit off the beat and path, which makes it a little bit more challenging just to get the awareness to people that we are out here," Willever said.

With a slight increase in play for May, Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday is optimistic, Grand Strand golf is headed upward, back where it belongs.

With "Big Break" filming in the Myrtle Beach area, we may be one step closer to getting golf clubs back on our greens.

"We saw a big social media surge a couple of days ago with the announcement of "Big Break" and Governor Haley on The Golf Channel, a lot of activity on social media, so its another tool in the toolbox," said Bill Golden, President of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday.

When you add being named Best Golf Destination by USA Today, hosting Monday after the Masters and PGA Professionals Championship, it's hard to believe golf numbers are down, but all this exposure is advancing the game.

"Any exposure is great exposure, especially for the Myrtle Beach golf community because we have people that come from as far as Canada, Ireland and overseas," said Willever.

It's about finding ways for people to see all the golfing the Grand Strand has to offer and targeting the right people to put us on the right course for the future. Keeping kids in the game, our future customers and keeping families coming back to our area to golf.

"Our most difficult thing we can do is to convince a new golfer or someone who hasn't been here to Myrtle Beach to come for the first time but we know once we do get them they'll come back, time and time again," said Golden.

Golf courses say the off-season or summer months are a time they hope to make up for spring's low numbers and although bookings remain stagnant, they're banking on the time ahead.