Myrtle Beach area golf industry unites to assist Sandy victims

The portion of the Eastern seaboard that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy three weeks ago accounts for a good portion of the Grand Strand’s golf business.

So a number of people in the golf market felt compelled to offer aid to victims of the storm.

That thought culminated with the sendoff Friday morning of a 24-foot tractor-trailer carrying 90 boxes of jackets, golf shirts, relief supplies and cash courtesy primarily of some area golf courses and hotels.

“We have so many customers up there, and this area is made up of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania retirees, and we felt an obligation to do something for them,” said National Golf Management president and New Jersey native Bob Mauragas. “We’re happy to be able to find a way to help.”

Mauragas asked golf professionals at the 23 courses managed by National Golf Management to contribute apparel from their shops to the relief effort.

“We were going through year-end inventory, Sandy came along, and we found a bunch of stuff we thought could help the people out there and we didn’t have to keep it on the floor,” Mauragas said. “One thing led to the next.”

National Golf Management has received a lot of assistance in its donations.

Vacation Myrtle Beach Resorts, which operates 13 hotel properties on the Strand including the Caravelle, Captain’s Quarters, Landmark Resort and Ocean Creek Resort, and the Myrtle Beach Golf Gurus golf package company were already working on their own relief plans, and the businesses decided to combine their efforts.

“We felt we had a responsibility to reach out and see how we could help,” said Vacation Myrtle Beach Resorts marketing director Matt Klugman. “We found a lot of folks in the area were trying to find out ways people could contribute.”

The donated merchandise and supplies are headed for two drop-off points – the Fort Monmouth (N.J.) tented village for people who lost their homes, and to a group of firefighters who annually participate in the FDNY golf tournament that was started on the Strand in light of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

A group of 80 firefighters from the ravaged region stayed at a Vacation Myrtle Beach Resorts property two weeks before the destructive storm, and were on the Strand for a fundraising tournament for autism that raised $40,000.

“There’s not one bad guy in the bunch,” Klugman said. “… Then these guys’ lives got turned upside down a couple weeks after they left Myrtle Beach. We realized it could have been us. We’ve been through that before.”

Many others Strand groups, organizations and companies – both in and out of the golf industry – contributed funds or merchandise to the truckload. “We’ve tried to use every avenue we could to get cash and donations,” said Klugman, who added that another truckload and additional cash donations may be forthcoming.