A Warm Welcome to the ACC

by Brad King

 Aug 24, 2017 at 6:10 PM

This past April two McConnell Golf properties in South Carolina hosted ACC tournaments. Duke University emerged at the top of the leaderboard for both, but according to the teams and coaches, McConnell Golf stood out as a true champion.

“The 2017 ACC Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships were a great success,” says Kris Pierce, ACC senior associate commissioner for championships. “The ACC and our member schools are grateful for the hard work and dedication shown by McConnell Golf, Musgrove Mill Golf Club, and The Reserve Golf Club, along with all of the staff, volunteers, and club members.”

The Men’s Golf Championship took place at Musgrove Mill Golf Club following 15 years at Old North State Club. Meanwhile, the Women’s Golf Championship was played at The Reserve Golf Club following a nine-year run at Sedgefield Country Club’s Ross course.


Mother Nature was much kinder at The Reserve during a beautiful Easter weekend for the Women’s Championship. “It was absolutely awesome,” says Donald Clement, The Reserve’s director of golf. “We could not have had four better days of weather, camaraderie, and com- petition. It was a home run all week.”

According to Clement, the McConnell Golf standard for course conditioning meant The Reserve’s greens-keeping staff didn’t need to make any adjustments to their normal routine. “We did nothing different with the golf course,” he says. “The teams and coaches absolutely raved about it.”

Duke won its 20th ACC title — but the first conference crown for the Lady Blue Devils since 2014. Duke’s 5-under 859 total for 54 holes was the best mark, nine strokes better than Florida State. Miami was third at 874, followed by North Carolina at 876, Clemson at 877, and N.C. State at 888. The Blue Devils entered the final round leading by nine strokes. Leona Maguire, a Duke

junior ranked first in both the Golfstat collegiate rankings and Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, was the individual winner for the second time in three years. Maguire posted a 6-under 210 to edge out Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho (212) and Miami’s Delfina Acosta (213) for the title. The Blue Devils earned their 19th ACC title under veteran coach Dan Brooks. It was the 16th time that Duke won the team title and had the medalist.

The Reserve member Ellen Miller served as volunteer chairperson for the Women’s Golf Championship. Miller said she was so proud of her fellow members and friends who contributed their time during the event.

“The really cool thing is that I have received seven handwritten thank-you notes from ACC coaches and players, thanking us for the terrific experience and our warm hospitality,” says Miller. “It was just so much fun.”

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Ask A Member

by Martha-Page Althaus

 May 02, 2017 at 7:11 PM

Dennis Wahl played 300 rounds of golf in 2016 - that's more than 5,400 holes!

When Dennis Wahl retired as a Vice President at Merrill Lynch, playing more golf was at the top of his to-do list. “I’ve been golfing since I was 30 years old and I’ve always had a passion for it,” says Wahl, who joined The Reserve in 2012. “I was able to retire a year early, at age 64, and now I’m having the time of my life.”

How do you find the time to play so often?

It helps that I’m retired, but I always played a lot even while I was working. As of this past February, I’ve played 44 rounds this year. And counting. I’m on pace for another 300 rounds this year. I can play 18 holes in three hours ... four hours, tops. I like that a great deal.

What part of your game have you been able to improve the most over this past year? 

I’ve gotten better because I’ve played a lot. I walk 98 percent of my round. Walking has made me a better golfer. I’m in better shape. I think the game was made to be walked.

What’s the most memorable round you played in 2016? 

I broke eighty 58 times. I’ve shot 74 once or twice in 2016. This year, in February, I shot a 73. Our group shot 30 under par that day. We all shot under our handicap. It was a pretty good day. It’s a lifelong goal to shoot my age. Maybe I’ll get there soon. 

Any heartbreaking near-misses or blooper scenarios that you’d like to share?

Not shooting 72 in that round that I shot 73! I missed two 5-footers. Could’ve easily been 71. That’s as heartbreaking as it gets.

Who golfs with you most often? And can they keep up?

There’s a group of us at The Reserve called The Wheaties, and we play once a week. We play from the tournament tees at 6,500 yards. The Reserve, from those tees, is very difficult. But everyone in this group can hit the ball. Everyone in this group has, at worst, handicaps of 12 or 14. I’m an 11. It’s nice to play with these guys. Almost all of us are in our 60s or 70s.

What’s your post-golf ritual?

I go into the clubhouse, have lunch or a beer. Every time I play, I eat lunch there. A member of a club needs to support their club. It’s about more than just playing golf.


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The Reserve GC Hosts the ACC Championship

by Brad King

 Apr 19, 2017 at 1:46 PM

In 2017 the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women's Golf Championship was moved from its nine-year stint at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, NC to The Reserve Golf Club of Pawleys Island.

Duke University emerged on top of the leaderboard with its 20th ACC title - but the first conference crown for the Blue Devils since 2014. This marks their 19th ACC title under veteran coach Dan Brooks and the 16th time that Duke won the team title and had a medalist.

Duke’s 5-under 859 total for 54 holes was the best mark, nine strokes better than Florida State. Miami was third at 874, followed by North Carolina at 876, Clemson at 877 and N.C. State at 888. Wake Forest was last in the 12-team field at 931. The Lady Blue Devils entered the final round leading by nine strokes.  

Duke junior Leona Maguire, who is ranked first in both the Golfstat collegiate rankings and Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking, was the individual winner for the second time in three years. Maguire posted a 6-under 210 to edge out Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho (212) and Miami’s Delfina Acosta (213) for the title.

The following week at Musgrove Mill Golf Club near Clinton, South Carolina Duke’s men’s golf team won the Men's Championship to sweep the ACC honors for the Blue Devils as they head into the NCAA Regionals.

WMBF Local News Tournament Coverage

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The Reserve Golf Club

by Brad King

 Mar 30, 2017 at 7:23 PM

Stay and play in pristine Pawleys Island

In 2010, McConnell Golf made its then-sixth club acquisition, The Reserve Golf Club on Pawleys Island, S.C., for several different reasons. First, The Reserve offered McConnell Golf members an outstanding design by the legendary Greg Norman — providing a prominent new face in the enviable stable of McConnell Golf architects. Equally important, the 700-acre private gated Litchfield community is a popular beach vacation destination where many McConnell Golf members already owned second homes. For McConnell Golf, The Reserve was a natural fit.

Little wonder why folks are enchanted by this serene coastal escape. A narrow barrier island less than four miles long nestled between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic Ocean on Myrtle Beach’s South Strand, Pawleys Island is one of the oldest resorts on the East Coast, having served as the summer home to wealthy antebellum rice planters, who retreated to the island to escape the heat. The island’s slower pace and laid-back lifestyle encourage leisurely hours in hammocks with views across the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Residents and visitors alike proudly call Pawleys Island “arrogantly shabby,” reveling in its simplicity and natural beauty.

In 1998, Greg Norman chose Pawleys Island to make his first mark in the Carolinas as a golf course architect. On 350 pristine acres walled in by the longleaf pines and hardwoods of the Waccamaw Neck, “The Shark” crafted a minimalist masterpiece, adorned by waste bunkers, native grasses, white sand stacked sod-walled bunkers, which provide a stunning contrast to the flat, brown sand waste areas and flawless green complexes that are enormous and crowned in places. There is no semblance of rough on the golf course. Since opening, The Reserve has garnered numerous state and national rankings.

“My ultimate goal (at the Reserve Club) wasn’t to create an extremely difficult course, just one that’s very challenging,” says Norman, who won more than 90 tournaments worldwide including two British Open Championships and claims the distinction of having held the No. 1 position in the world rankings for 331 consecutive weeks. “While you don’t have to hit it straight every hole, you always have to think straight.” 

When McConnell Golf purchased The Reserve, it converted the green complexes from Penn G-2 bentgrass — a cost-prohibitive, cool weather grass that fights the summer heat — to Champions ultra dwarf Bermuda. McConnell also spruced up the extensive fairway, waste, and greenside bunkering with new feldspar sand, the same type used at Augusta National Golf Club, site of The Masters. The Reserve also features one of the widest practice ranges at the beach, a short game area with a practice bunker and a true-rolling practice green. The result? In 2014, The Reserve was voted South Carolina’s “Club of the Year.”

The Reserve has hosted several championships, including the 1999 South Carolina Open, 2001-02 Carolinas Opens, 2003-05 Carolinas PGA Section Championships, 2014 South Carolina Amateur, 2012 S.C. Senior Championship, 2016 Carolinas Women’s Amateur, and a U.S. Open qualifier in 2000. In April, The Reserve will play host to the ACC Women’s Golf Championship.

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Experience of a Lifetime

by Jessie Ammons

 Aug 01, 2016 at 9:40 PM

As we ramp up for the Wyndham Championship, members recount their most memorable PGA tournament moments

"Rick and I were USGA marshals at the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club (pictured at right). At that time, tournament marshals walked inside the ropes, and it was a thrill for both of us. Since then, Rick became a USGA Rules Official and Competition Committee member.

Golf is the cornerstone of our philanthropy and we both serve on the Executive Committee of the SCGA and SCJGA, respectively.

Play Golf America!”

— Ellen and Rick Miller, The Reserve Golf Club

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Art and Soul

by Jessie Ammons

 Jul 01, 2016 at 4:44 PM

An annual festival delights the senses and engages the community all year long

Beneath a tent studded with string lights, guests mill about enjoying hors d’oeuvres and wine. The air is full of the gentle whir of friendly chatter, and friends scope out a table of trips and prizes available to win in a silent auction. This is the Pawley’s Island Wine and Food Gala at The Reserve Golf Club — and it’s only one event in the Pawley’s Island Festival of Music and Art lineup.

The annual fall festival is one of the few times The Reserve prepares its grounds for an event other than golf, and it’s a welcomed change of pace. “People come from all over,” says Club Manager Donald Clement. “Folks come and stay from out of town to attend.” Over three consecutive weekends, there are concerts, a fresh-air painting class, the wine-and- food experience, and a seated dinner; 90 percent of the events happen at The Reserve. “This is our fifth year of hosting,” Clement says. “It’s a big three weeks, to say the least.”

To say more, the nonprofit celebration has existed in some capacity for more than two decades. “We believe in the value of the arts as an essential part of civilization,” states the organization’s website, “and in its role of preserving accomplishments of humanity.” The musical-performance-heavy yearly roster enhances cultural awareness, and the events raise money for both the festival itself and its outreach efforts.

Festival-goers don’t just enjoy themselves - and they do - they support local art education, too. When it’s not festival time, the organizing board of directors is busy coordinating band and chorus workshops and dance classes with nearby public schools. Program funding is entirely dependent on proceeds from the festival.

This year’s celebration takes place on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of each weekend from September 24 - October 15. McConnell Golf is happy to contribute discounted venue space throughout the festival: Events at The Reserve begin September 29. To learn more, visit the Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art website. 

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Happy Trails

by Matt McConnell

 Apr 14, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Being a McConnell Golf “concierge” is one of my favorite jobs. I love arranging for our members to play golf at one of their sister properties, especially our destination courses and even more so if they’ve never experienced the course. I always recommend Musgrove Mill for the “guys golf getaways” and Old North State for couples retreats. Now that McConnell Golf members have access to the Grande Dunes Members Club and Ocean Club, I’m always going to recommend a trip to the Grand Strand for the whole family.  

Starting at the southern tip of the Grand Strand, McConnell Golf ’s Reserve Golf Club is located in one of the oldest resort areas on the east coast - the relaxing Pawleys Island, SC. Like Pawleys Island, The Reserve Golf Club feels as if it has always been there. Surrounded by protected conservation areas, this 350 acre track embraces 160 acres of natural wetlands with wooden bridges and a minimal number of cart paths linking each secluded hole. With very few homes on the course, I strongly consider The Reserve a private sanctuary. Not only is it the fifth-ranked golf course on the Grand Strand, but it is home to alligators, deer, turkeys, foxes & funny looking squirrels with big tails that look like raccoons. Famed PGA golfer and designer of The Reserve’s course, Greg Norman once said, “My philosophy on golf course design is simple, I like to work with nature, not against it...using the site’s intrinsic features to determine what goes where.” The Shark certainly accomplished this when he created The Reserve Golf Club.  

Besides golf, families can enjoy The Reserve for much more from fine dining experiences to large events such as The Pawleys Island Festival of Music & Art. With great beaches and vacation amenities close by in Pawleys Island, the overall quality of family fun is great for our members who travel to The Reserve Golf Club. Now that McConnell Golf manages The Grande Dune’s private facilities in Myrtle Beach, the family fun continues on the northern end of the Strand. With this new partnership with owners LStar Management, McConnell Golf members are invited to enjoy access to the beautiful Grande Dunes Members Club.  

The Members Club features a championship golf course designed by PGA Hall of Fame golfer Nick Price and award winning architect Craig Schreiner. With wide generous fairways, this beautiful golf course plays throughout the area’s natural pine preserves and along the Intracoastal Waterway. Ranked as one of the “50 Best Golf Courses in South Carolina,” The Members Course at Grande Dunes adds incredible value to a McConnell Golf membership.

When McConnell Golf first started to expand, we always knew the potential value of adding a beach course to our portfolio of golf courses. In 2010, members could finally smell the beach when The Reserve Golf Club became the 6th McConnell Golf Property. Now that our members have access to Grande Dunes, family fun stretches across the Grand Strand.

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