U.S. Open brings more than 1,000 visitors to county

  • Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chris Sokoloski/Times
Cole Abell, left, and Alex Cribb, employees of Back Woods Quail Club, landscape the area in front of the club’s sign. The club is hosting the National Sporting Clays Association’s U.S. Open this week.

By Chris Sokoloski

More than 1,000 of the country’s best shooters, plus their families, are in Georgetown County this week for the National Sporting Clays Association’s U.S. Open at Back Wood Quail Club.
Tucked away in the Rhems community, the club has been preparing for the tournament for three years. About a mile of new roads, extra shooting stands and stations and trees have been added to the club grounds.
Rick Hemingway grew up on the land and runs the club. His family owns 5,500 acres, and he leases another 10,000 for the club.
He calls shooting clays “golf with shotguns.”
Last week workers were putting the finishing touches on the property, positioning the more than 200 golf carts that will be used, delivering hundreds of boxes of clay targets to courses, and helping vendors set up to sell their wares.
The club hired an extra 100 people just to work the tournament, according to general manager John Michael Morris.
Back Woods has added three clay courses and 300 launchers for the event and expects to go through more than 1 million targets during the tournament. The club usually goes through 1 million targets in year.
Spaces in Back Woods’ RV lot sold out quickly so Hemingway and Morris created a second lot in the front yard of a family home on the property. That lot also sold out and there’s a waiting list to get spaces.
Tournament participants and vendors have reserved the majority of hotel rooms in Georgetown, and rented at least 24 houses in DeBordeiu, according to Morris. Many are staying as far away as Murrells Inlet, about an hour’s drive from the club.
“It’s incredible for Back Woods, as well as Georgetown County, Hemingway said.
There is no charge to come and watch the tournament, which begins Sunday. Visitors can also peruse the vendors’ offerings, or the club pro shop, for everything from T-shirts to shooting and other outdoor sports equipment.
Back Woods offers sporting clays, five-stand, skeet and trap shooting; quail, pheasant, deer and turkey hunting; and rifle and pistol ranges for target practice.
Memberships are available, but activities are open to non-members also.
Hemingway also sells, rents, upgrades and services trap machines, and sells trap houses.
Back Woods is located off Highway 51 near the intersection with Highway 41. For more information go to www.backwoodsquailclub.com or call 843-546-1466.  

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