Hilton Head golf course opens new service center one year after fire

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comNovember 14, 2013 

Nearly a year after its golf cart barn was destroyed by a fire, Bear Creek Golf Club celebrated the opening of a new member services center on the barn's site Thursday.

Hilton Head Island Mayor Drew Laughlin cut the ceremonial ribbon outside the center, which houses administrative offices, bag storage, and the cart storage area.

The cart barn burned on Nov. 26, 2012, destroying 52 golf carts and causing almost $600,000 in damage. The fire, which broke out at about 5:30 a.m., was believed to be arson, Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue Marshal Joheida Fister said at the time.

Investigators found a utility cart with its lights still on near the fire. The cart appeared to have been used to break through a gate at the maintenance yard, the Sheriff's Office said.

After ironing out insurance and permitting issues, construction on the new building started in March, Bear Creek board of directors president Dick Males said. Males said construction was completed in mid-October, about a month ahead of schedule.

Males said three club members designed the center, which is larger than its predecessor, and selected the builder.

The building has a new, state-of-the-art security system, public relations coordinator Sue Rodier said.

"There will be no more arson here," she said.

While the building was under construction, the club used a trailer for office space and a portable storage unit for bag collection. Both were removed from the club's parking lot last week, Rodier said.

The golf club's new electric golf carts were on display at Thursday's event.

The club had used borrowed gas and hybrid golf carts for the past year. Rodier said the club had to use gas carts because the fire left no place on the grounds to charge electric carts.

Rodier said a $10,000 reward offered by former board president Hugh Murphy still stands and is covered by the club's insurance.

Murphy said in January the reward would be given to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the fire.

Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said no new information was available about the fire. The investigation was still active, the sheriff said.


Video: Bear Creek Golf Club ribbon cutting (:46)

Members of the Bear Creek Golf Club celebrated the opening of their rebuilt and expanded Member Service Center the evening of Nov. 14, 2013. The original building, located in Hilton Head Plantation, was destroyed by fire late last year.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

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