Grand Strand watersports lovers will have a new place to practice as Shark Wake Park opens Friday.
The park, in the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex, was founded by Greg Norman Jr., who has gone to cable wakeboarding parks from the time he was 16. Norman said the park is unique in South Carolina – no other complex allows multiple riders on the water at the same time, while his five-tower circuit allows seven people to ride at once.
“You could be riding right in front of or right behind one of the best cable park riders in the world,” Norman said. “You can see how they ride, you can interact with them, you can create that cable park community and culture.”
Norman said he has maintained relationships through wakeboarding as a teenager, with the park’s now-general manager Jeff Trudeau, and as a child, with his father, pro-golfer Greg Norman Sr. The elder Norman also owns Greg Norman’s Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach.
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I loved the camaraderie that him and I had going back and forth, and bringing me out on the boat when he only had a limited time between golf tournaments, and I learned to wakeboard that way.
Greg Norman Jr., on wakeboarding with his father
“I loved the camaraderie that him and I had going back and forth, and bringing me out on the boat when he only had a limited time between golf tournaments, and I learned to wakeboard that way,” Norman Jr. said.
On the main course at Shark Wake Park, riders have nine ramps to ride off of on the main circuit, with the highest jump – the “big kicker” – located closest to a waterside viewing deck and beer garden. Tie-dye patterned cornhole boards sat near the water, emblazoned with logos for Sweetwater Brewing Co.
Norman said the beer garden would be a good place for riders’ friends to come and watch them if they weren’t in the mood to get on the water, but that riders who step up to the bar and buy a drink would forfeit any remaining time on the water they have bought.
“We have multiple redundancy systems to make sure none of our customers will consume alcohol and ride,” he said.
On the far side of the park’s lake is a smaller, simpler, two-tower cable system, where complete beginners can get comfortable. Norman said this area is similar to a “bunny slope” on a ski mountain.
“You can get one-on-one lessons with the coach. He controls the speed individually for your skill level, so your learning time is like this,” Norman said as he snapped his fingers. “It’s the quickest way to learn.”
The cables on both routes, which are lifted far above the water, make it easier to stand as riders are almost automatically pulled upward, Norman said.
Shark Wake Park offers temporary passes for two hours, four hours or a whole day, with prices from $34 to $88, depending on the amount of time and whether riders are bringing or renting gear. Longer-term passes range from $288 a month to $1,199 for a year.
But riders beware: Trudeau, the general manager, said that most people buy too much at cable parks.
“Most people cannot wakeboard as much time as they buy,” he said. “The reason we make the passes so long is you get lots of starts to learn, you get lots of pauses to take breaks and get drinks and hang out.”
There’s a strong watersports community already here in the Myrtle Beach area of local residents.
Greg Norman Jr., founder of Shark Wake Park
Trudeau said the park could see anywhere from 50 to 150 riders each day. Shark Wake Park will be open year-round, and Norman said he thinks locals will be able to help sustain the park in colder months when the Grand Strand sees fewer visitors.
“There’s a strong watersports community already here in the Myrtle Beach area of local residents,” Norman said.
All riders need to know how to swim. Additionally, nobody under 10 is allowed on the water, but watersports fans of all ability levels are welcome
“We all ride together, from the pros to the Joes,” Trudeau said.