Little River ‘Continues to Score’
The waters aren’t always smooth at any golf resort, and it’s no different for Little River. A struggling economy creates problems for everyone, and the golf course that Dan Maples built on the site of an old horse farm and racetrack between Pinehurst and Carthage has felt the pinch.
But for Marvin Waters, who has spent the past five years at Little River, it’s business as usual. During those five years there have been three different owners and a management company. Still, Waters remains unruffled and optimistic. At least on the surface.
“There’s been a slight increase in rounds played each year since I’ve been here,” Waters said. “For us, it’s not about hitting home runs. It’s about hitting singles and continuing to score.”
Even a slight increase in play is better than most courses can show these days, so Waters feels the resort must be doing things the right way under the ownership of Oceanico, a company based in Portugal that continues to operate profitably despite the slow economic recovery. Meanwhile, Little River has moved up to 89th in the North Carolina Golf Panel’s Top 100 listing.
“We haven’t cut back on anything being spent on the condition of the golf course,” Waters said. “We know that a guy who comes here in March from some place like Cleveland wants to see green grass, so we overseeded. We still have the GPS on our golf carts. And the level of service — even before Troon took over the management — was, and still is, on the level that we make everyone who plays here feel like a member for a day.”
Troon is a huge global management corporation that was hired to operate Little River two years ago by Oceanico, but whose services were discontinued earlier this year.
“Troon came in and was a big advantage for us for two years,” Waters said. “They provided us with resources we had never had before. We had and still have a good relationship with Troon, but it was more an economic decision than anything else.
“Oceanico is still going strong and very much excited about its investment here.”
Economic concerns have slowed development at the resort, however, with plans for real estate and shopping sites at least temporarily placed on hold.
“We’re still going ahead with some projects on the course,” Waters said, “just nothing big like a couple of years ago when we rebuilt the tee areas.”
There have been some personnel changes, including the moving of assistant golf professional Matt Horvach to Southern Pines Golf Club as head professional.
“We’re very happy for Matt,” Waters said. “He worked with us as an intern while he was at Methodist College and now he’s a head professional. That’s great. We don’t want a guy working for us who wants to be here for 20 years.”
Waters’ new assistant professional is Mike Dooda, another product of the Methodist Professional Golf Management program.
“Mike served internships at Doral in Florida and at Pebble Beach,” Waters said. “He’ll be on the same program as Matt, and hopefully we can help him do the same as Matt by moving on to become a head professional.
“A lot of young assistants find themselves in situations where they basically just work behind the counter, but that’s not the way we do things. We have the Oakley (Sunglasses) Pro-Am, the eGolf Professional Tour here June 23-26 and the U.S. Kids are coming back for their fourth year this summer.
“Our assistants are involved in those events, and they learn how to run world tournaments. They learn how to hold corporate outings, pro-ams, mini-tours. It’s a great learning experience for them. We try to get them as interns while they’re seniors in college and hire them when the other guys move along the way Matt did.”
Janie Farina, who operated the Survival Golf School at The Pit Golf Links for the past couple of years, has moved her operation to Little River.
“This is a new component for us,” Waters said. “Janie is going to handle most of the teaching here. We hired her because of her track record and experience as a director and instructor.”
The LPGA-USGA Girls Club and the Silver Foils are holding their annual “Foi-Gils” tournament at Little River Monday afternoon.
For information, call (910) 949-4600 or visit the website at www.trianglegirlsgolf.com.
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