NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - A drive through Barefoot Resort and Golf in the spring of 2010 reveals a golf community in full bloom. Home of the Love, Fazio, Norman and Dye courses, Barefoot is one of the most popular Myrtle Beach golf facilities for many reasons.
Three of the four layouts have been ranked among America's 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.
The resort is home to two of the area's best clubhouses, including one dedicated exclusively to the Dye Club.
The amenities continue far beyond the golf courses. The glistening Barefoot Tower, one of the area's finest accommodations properties, is on the Intracoastal, and a pizza parlor/sports bar are just down the street.
Throw in a private bridge that connects the resort to Barefoot Landing, which includes Greg Norman's Australian Grille and the House of Blues, among an assortment of restaurants, bars and shops, and a portrait of the area's most inclusive facility comes into focus.
Today, the magnitude of Barefoot Resort and Golf's opening is almost taken for granted, but as the facility prepares to celebrate its 10th birthday, it's worth reflecting on what was accomplished at the North Myrtle Beach resort.
When Barefoot Resort and Golf opened on April 13, 2000, it was (and remains) the most highly anticipated debut in Myrtle Beach golf history. Barefoot did the previously unthinkable on that spring day, opening four public layouts at the same facility on the same day.
"Being the first time four courses were opened at the same time and being in the Golf Capital of the World, we were the new kid on the block," said Dave Genevro, who was a co-first assistant on opening day and has grown into his role as Barefoot Resort and Golf's general manager. "They were all anxious to play."
The Barefoot golf courses, which immediately rocketed to the top of many favorite course lists, where in impeccable condition from the outset. While the layouts didn't open until April, they were completed many months before and used the intervening time to fine-tune conditioning.
Beyond the golf course, little of what is now visible existed in the spring of 2000. The property's trademark drawbridge wasn't ready on opening day, requiring players and their bags to be shuttled across the Intracoastal Waterway on a pontoon boat. (Yes, there were occasionally problems transporting clubs and people across the water. On at least one occasion, a set of clubs plunged to the bottom of the Intracoastal where they, presumably, remain!)
The 8,000-square-foot clubhouse that serves players at Barefoot Resort and Golf's Fazio course, Love course and Norman course was nowhere to be found and neither was the opulent 9,000-square-foot facility that welcomes players to the Dye Club. Cart barns doubled as a pro shop in the opening days, but offered all the essentials.
"There was never any disappointment because once they got off the boat and into the golf cart, the courses were complete," Genevro said of Barefoot's opening days. "They were very satisfied, because (the golf courses) were in great shape."
That initial satisfaction has grown has grown into adoration for many players. The resort clubhouse opened in 2001, followed by the Dye Clubhouse a year later, accelerating Barefoot Resort and Golf's ascension in the Myrtle Beach golf hierarchy.
Barefoot's rise also garnered national attention. The Barefoot Love course was honored by Golf Magazine as one of the nation's top 10 new public courses when it opened, and since 2007, the Love, Fazio and Dye layouts have been ranked among America's 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.
When Barefoot Resort and Golf opened it faced the daunting task of meeting great expectations, but its most harrowing challenge rose from out of the ground last spring. A wildfire that ravaged parts of Horry County and destroyed 70 homes at Barefoot forced the Love Course to close for one month and the Fazio Course to shutter for two month.
Fortunately, neither golf course was damaged (the closures were to allow bridges to be rebuilt and charred trees to be mulched) and there are few reminders of a fire that attracted national attention while it was burning.
This spring the focus is on a celebration of the property's past and a look forward to its future.
"It was wonderful to be here from day 1," Genevro said. "People who come down can't believe the (growth) ... to be part of this from the beginning was exciting and to still be here 10 years later, I love it."
April 16, 2010