Golf Course Architecture - Issue 75, January 2024

70 REPORT Revival of Wellman provides boost for rural community South Carolina’s Florence County hopes golf course renovation will spur economic growth. Wellman Golf Club in Johnsonville, South Carolina, has been reborn as a municipal facility, following the resurrection of a course that had been closed since 2010. With nine holes originally laid out in 1966 by Ellis Maples and nine added by Maples and Ed Seay five years later, the former Wellman Country Club course has now been completely renovated by Rees Jones and design associate Bryce Swanson. Funding for the project was largely covered by a Florence County ‘penny tax’. County officials believe that as well as providing a recreation facility for everyone in the area to enjoy at an affordable price, the golf course could help spur economic growth in the region. Wellman is less than an hour inland from the golf-dense Myrtle Beach area and currently has green fees in the region of $40 (and even less for locals), so holds appeal as a low-cost and lesscrowded alternative to the popular courses of the ‘Grand Strand’. The par-five eleventh at Wellman even mirrors one of Myrtle Beach’s most famous holes, the ‘Waterloo’ thirteenth at the Dunes Club, another of Jones’s clients. At Wellman, the hole turns 90 degrees from rightto-left around a large lake, posing a strategic risk-reward question for every shot. But Jones says that the course offers a marked contrast to those around Myrtle Beach, instead drawing parallels between Wellman and the famous layouts of Pinehurst, two hours north. “It looks like a Pinehurst area golf course, with sandy soil, pine trees on every hole and gently rolling topography,” he says. It was the sandy soil at Wellman that made it possible to complete the renovation of the golf course and related facilities with a budget of US$5 million. Working with long-time collaborator Clyde Hall of Southeastern Golf, Jones and Swanson made design decisions in the field and employed traditional methods for the construction of greens and bunkers, to keep costs down. “That’s what Bryce and I are really proud of,” says Jones. “We were able to build a really special facility with a very small budget. A double-row automatic irrigation system, a new pump station, drainage in the greens, a small maintenance building, clubhouse repairs, the entire golf course recontoured and Photo: credit “ It looks like a Pinehurst area golf course, with sandy soil, pine trees on every hole and gently rolling topography”