MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The City of Myrtle Beach, Atlantic Golf Management and former airmen from the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base have been planning for years to bring creative projects to the former base for residents and tourists to remember the base's legacy and accomplishments. What they came up with will be officially unveiled Tuesday at Whispering Pines Golf Course.
The base closed in 1993. Ideas for the project began in 2006 when plans to turn the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base into Market Common were becoming reality. Whispering Pines Golf Course is owned by the city, but city planners approached the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority about preserving the history of the former base through an educational signage and museum program.
The product of the collaboration is what's being unveiled at 11 a.m Tuesday. Twenty-eight signs and 4 different squadron emblems turned tee markers are what organizers came up with. The signs are both educational and museum-like because there's one for each of the 28 base commanders of the base. The signs tell their biography, accomplishments and tenure with a picture.
After 1956, 4 squadrons served the base. Those four squadrons (Green Demon, Fightin' Falcon, Black Panther, Valor) are represented on tee markers. The back of the tee markers is the usual color, letting you know which to tee off at. Scorecards also have been changed.
President of Atlantic Golf Management Chip Smith says he sees golfers stop to read the signs since they were put up Friday. Smith says many of the golfers are veterans themselves, so they enjoy the character the signs and tee markers bring to the course.
"Quite a few people that would come up to me in the first year would say 'oh, I was stationed here in 1974' or something like that. So I think there was a lot of interest when we started working on this project," Smith said.
Four-star general Robert H. Reed is one of several veterans to head the project as part of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority. The Whispering Pines Golf Course signs are a branch off of the 163 dedicated signs and street names honoring local servicemen throughout Market Common.
General Reed says it's important to remember the base's legacy not only because of its importance to Myrtle Beach, but because of the role the base played in international conflict like the Cold War.
Whispering Pines was built by the airmen in the 1962. Brigadier General Gil Meyers found old golf course plans when he was in command, and decided to make it happen on a very small budget. He recruited airmen to clear the land and the first 9 holes of the base's golf course were built by the military men themselves. The course opened later that year. Airmen and their families could join for $5 a month at the time.
The clubhouse was added in 1985. The last 9 holes were built in 1987.
The dedication ceremony for the airmen is Tuesday morning at 11. Meet at the clubhouse.