Building Shaftesbury Glen was a team effort. My partners in this project were Scott Gobbi, my college roommate, best friend , and business partner in other ventures; Marvin Arnsdorff, former manager of the southeast office of Golf Digest; my brother Jack, and our architect Clyde Johnston.
We flagged every tree and wetland to see exactly what we could get out of this Myrtle Beach tract of land. We knew with the competition as keen as it was that we had to make this special.
The first thing we decided on was that we wanted to go with bent grass greens, the same as they have at Augusta National. At the time it was the best possible putting surface available. This putting surface was only possible if we had an outstanding supply of good water and if we elevated all the greens to allow for air circulation. The water we had was unlimited and full of nutrients from the Waccamaw River.
We looked at the original design for Augusta National by Allister MacKenzie which called for extra large elevated greens and large and free form bunker shapes which was his signature style. We wanted a design that would produce holes that offered an ideal balance of risk and reward, a course that would challenge yet accommodate players with a range of skills which was the MacKenzie and Tillinghast philosophy. So with this in mind we developed a routing and design that worked just perfectly. We lacked the elevation of the course’s by Tillinghast and MacKenzie but we designed the bunkering, tees and greens as they did at Winged Foot and Augusta National. The end result by not moving a ridiculous amount of dirt was we came in way under our original budget.
We put together a great Myrtle Beach construction team and the construction started in the Spring of 1999. We quickly discovered that 90% of the land was gumbo which was hard to move and to make things worse we had excessive rain that spring and we had to constantly move the dirt around to dry it out. It took us longer then we anticipated and we were further delayed by a government agency ruling that because the land was located on the Waccamaw River we had to do an archeological search for Indian artifacts. What? So in came the guys with beards and shovels looking for God knows what that might have one time belonged to Indians and left behind. What made this whole thing utterly silly was the fact that the land had been farmland for over 100 years and had been plowed over that many years. In frustration I asked if we found anything were they going to give the artifacts back to the Indians. I don’t think they appreciated my sarcasm so they took another week and, of course, found nothing but the three week delay put us behind schedule and cost us financially as well.
The rough clearing and shaping was finally completed and what was taking shape was very encouraging. We added a few traps and made some of the bunkers more severe to get the Winged Foot look that MacKenzie perfected. Mission accomplished. We finally did the grassing in the Spring of 2001 and by September the English manor styled clubhouse was completed and the course looked fantastic. It opened to rave reviews and was named Myrtle Beach’s Golf Course of the Year in 2009. We built five unique apartments, known as Shaftesbury Suites, over the clubhouse for visiting golfers. We were soon ranked in the top 20 Golf Resorts by Golf World Magazine along with Pinehurst and Kiawah Island.
Next: How Possum Trot came to be.