The first collaboration between Jim McNair Jr. and Gary Frazier – renovating Aiken Golf Club into one of the state’s most fun and affordable public courses – turned out well.
The two are banking on a similar result for their next project together.
McNair recently purchased the Golf Club at Cedar Creek and hired Frazier to serve as course superintendent. Cedar Creek, the Arthur Hills-designed centerpiece of a residential community that bears the same name, opened in 1991.
The course located on the southside of Aiken has approximately 175 members, McNair said. The semi-private course plays to a par of 72 and features five sets of tees, and can play as long as 7,200 yards.
“They are excited to have new ownership and our goal is to keep them excited,” he said Monday. “We want to give them the best possible golf experience on a daily basis that we can provide.”
In the late 1990s, McNair took over Highland Park Country Club from his father and changed the name to Aiken Golf Club. He also changed perceptions about the municipal course with Frazier’s help by making several design changes and improving the greens complexes.
The result was rave reviews from Golfweek and other national publications.
At Cedar Creek, McNair plans to enhance the course’s daily maintenance and also improve infrastructure such as the irrigation system and cart paths.
Frazier had previously worked with McNair and then held jobs at Palmetto Golf Club and North Augusta Country Club before starting his own landscaping business.
“He’s back doing what he loves,” McNair said. “He’s excited, obviously.”
Frazier said he is looking forward to the challenge.
“Now I’m back in golf where I belong,” he said. “We want to just upgrade everything from irrigation to modern turf grasses, and bring this thing back to where it should be. Bring the people back and the membership back.”
McNair purchased the golf course from Hank and Carol Thurmond on Nov. 16 for an undisclosed sum. He will manage and operate the golf course as Cedar Creek Golf LLC.
He had been in negotiations to buy the course for some time, but financing was difficult to obtain.
“I was turned down by five other financial institutions in Aiken and the only bank that would agree to finance was Savannah River Banking Company,” McNair said.
McNair also had interim financial support from a group of Cedar Creek homeowners.
“The sale would not have happened without the assistance of property owners,” he said.
McNair retained Mike DiPasquale as golf professional and Beverly Burke as the operator of the clubhouse grill.
He said he is excited about the future and hopes to one day add a teaching professional. For now, he is focusing on the course.
“It’s a fantastic layout and it’s very playable for the core audience at Cedar Creek,” he said. “We’re eventually going to make some needed design changes and infrastructure. The core golf course is a great Arthur Hills course. It’s got great topography.”