Southwood neighborhood faced with overgrowth from abandoned golf course lot

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Wicked Stick golf course has been gone since September of last year.  The front lots have been bulldozed for homes for the new Belle Mer neighborhood, and any day now the club house is expected to come down.  But, while crews are being productive in the front, area residents say other parts of the old golf course are being neglected.

"The weeds and the growth, we're liable to get animals back here...snakes and rodents and what not," Ernest Muratori said.  He's lived in Southwood since January of 1996.  Wicked Stick opened in 1995, and he's enjoyed his home on one of the back holes of the course since his family moved there.  But now, the course is in such bad shape, it's comparable to a 'forest.'

"The owners of Wicked Stick, so far, have shown very little responsibility in keeping the community in decent shape. They profited off of us for many years and now they're going to let it go and they should maintain it back here," Muratori said.

He worked on the course as a ranger for a few years and said other neighbors worked there, too.  Muratori told WMBF News he and other residents have emailed their councilman to take care of the over-grown problem, but nothing's been done for months.  A few months ago, he said he and his wife saw someone attempt to cut the back holes with a lawn mower, but not it'll take much bigger equipment than that.

According to Horry County, the back part of the Wicked Stick property is still owned by Wicked Stick.  Right now, it's for sale.

The good news is if you live in Southwood, or somewhere else with areas that are overgrown or not maintained, there's a way to fix it. The Horry County spokeswoman said to call Horry County's NON-emergency dispatch number and tell them what's going on.  She said the environmental officers in charge of these problems will find who's responsible to fix it.  That number is 843-248-1520.

As far as construction on the old Wicked Stick golf course, it's slowly moving along.  Lou Krieger lives in Southwood and has been active in the neighborhood's transition.  An ALDI grocery store will be built on the property closest to Highway 17.  Right now, the four model homes for Belle Mer are still under construction, no building has started for the actual neighborhood.

Krieger says Southwood residents have been upset with the construction work.  "We've had so many people lose their views from behind their homes where they now look at heavy industrial equipment.  We were told they wouldn't have the big trucks riding down the roads…they've been using that as access for dump trucks that are fully loaded," Krieger said.

However, he said residents look forward to the possibility of new restaurants coming to their neighborhood.  In April of last year, Southwood residents had a large voice in the vote to ensure the Wicked Stick Golf Course property was zoned residentially in the back parts to keep a 'big box' store from being built.

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