The 11th ranked course in South Carolina is being put on ice

October 05, 2011

The big game of musical courses and resorts continues, and the music just stopped in South Carolina. There's no chair for Musgrove Mill.

Pete Finch files this report on the closing of a private South Carolina golf course:*

Closing Musgrove Mill is a setback for parent company McConnell Golf, an acquisitive outfit I wrote about in Golf Digest a couple of months ago. "The problem is, it's dragging our other courses down," says McDonald. "It's not fair to the rest of them." McConnell Golf owns eight private clubs, most of them in the Raleigh, N.C., area.

Part of Musgrove Mill's problem is its remote location. Set in tiny Clinton, S.C., about halfway between Greenville and Columbia, it's an hour and a half from the nearest other McConnell Golf property. The owners invested "a fair amount" in lodging facilities at the Arnold Palmer-designed course, aiming to turn it into an overnight destination for members of its other clubs, McDonald says. "We were hoping the rest of our courses could keep Musgrove Mill busy, and they have helped, but it just wasn't enough. We can't maintain it to our standards on the kind of income it was producing." The club, which McConnell Golf  bought in 2007, has only about 100 members, McDonald says.

In its "mothballed" state, the course will continue to be maintained by a small staff. Although it's not officially "on the market," the company will certainly entertain offers. McDonald figures it might work as a semi-private club or even a public course. McConnell Golf founder John McConnell has made it clear that's not his business model; he is building a network of strictly private, high-end clubs.

McConnell's latest purchase was TPC Wakefield, site of a Nationwide Tour event, which he bought in August. Is he still looking to buy more? "Oh yeah," says McDonald. "We're talking to people every day." Musgrove Mill, he adds, "is by far the least performing club that we have."

--Peter Finch

(Follow Finch on Twitter @Pete_Finch; follow me @Matt_Ginella.)