Golf course owner FGI restructures on heels of several executive firings

Pine Lakes Country Club is one of Founders Group International’s 22 courses in the Myrtle Beach area.
Pine Lakes Country Club is one of Founders Group International’s 22 courses in the Myrtle Beach area. file photo

Following a spate of executive firings, Founders Group International has restructured its leadership.

The largest golf course ownership and management company in the Myrtle Beach area with 22 golf courses has announced a new regional organizational structure that includes six new regional positions.

Three regional operations managers will report directly to Steve Mays, the company’s director of sales and marketing who has recently been appointed acting president, while three regional superintendents will report to Max Morgan, FGI’s vice president of agronomy.

The announced reorganization comes about three weeks after FGI, which is led by Chinese investor Dan Liu, terminated the employment of general manager Rick Taylor and chief financial officer/vice president Tommy Smothers, and 2 1/2 weeks after president Xian “Nick” Dou was fired.

Tom Plankers had been FGI’s vice president and general manager for about 1 1/2 years before he was fired in January and Taylor was promoted.

The company upheaval continued with a lawsuit filed June 22 by Dou against Liu, the company’s managing partner, and three ownership companies based in China that Liu purportedly represents.

The suit alleges Liu has misappropriated funds to benefit both himself and his family and requests the court appoint a receiver to oversee the operations and assets of FGI to protect Dou’s interests as well as the company’s investors, approximate 1,100 employees and the company itself.

The three regional operations managers are all golf professionals and/or general managers who have 40 years of combined experience managing budgets, personnel and day-to-day golf course operations.

Brad Crumling will serve as regional manager for courses in the central area of the Grand Strand including Burning Ridge Golf Club, Myrtlewood Golf Club, World Tour Golf Links, Myrtle Beach National’s three courses (Kings North, South Creek and West), Wild Wing Plantation and Indian Wells Golf Club. He has been the head pro at Myrtle Beach National.

Matt Daly will serve as regional manager for south end courses including Founders Club at Pawleys Island, Litchfield Country Club, Pawleys Plantation, River Club, Willbrook Plantation, TPC Myrtle Beach and Tradition Club. He has been head pro at TPC Myrtle Beach since September 2016 and was previously the head pro at the Grande Dunes Resort Course, Myrtlewood and Pine Lakes Country Club.

Joe Dipre has been promoted to regional manager for the north end courses including the Grande Dunes Resort Course, Pine Lakes, Colonial Charters Golf Club, Aberdeen Country Club, Long Bay Club and River Hills Golf & Country Club. Dipre was previously the GM at Founders Club, Burning Ridge, Indian Wells and Long Bay.

Crumling and Daly are PGA Class A pros who graduated from Coastal Carolina in 2002 and 2001, respectively, while Dipre attended Gannon University and the Golf Academy of America.

The three regional superintendents will work with individual course supers to manage daily maintenance, agronomic plans, personnel, safety, playability and annual budgets.

Clay DuBose has been promoted from TPC Myrtle Beach superintendent to the regional superintendent for south end courses, Scott Grumman has been promoted from World Tour superintendent to regional superintendent for the central courses, and previous Myrtlewood superintendent Jim Brown continues a supervisory role with FGI as the regional superintendent for the north end courses.

All three regional superintendents have a minimum of 15 years experience and attended Horry-Georgetown Technical College for turf management or golf course management.

“We obviously have a talented pool of managers both on the superintendents side and the golf course managers side and we’re excited to give those six individuals the opportunity to lead our company,” Mays said. “From our standpoint, it’s going to greatly improve communication with our managers at the golf course level. We have a talented group of people and this is going to help us be more efficient in managing the golf course.”

Founders Group International began acquiring Myrtle Beach area properties in 2014 and the company or affiliated businesses also own 29 acres of oceanfront property, hundreds of acres and lots around some of its courses including Wild Wing, the Stonewall Villas development in Longs, a golf course membership program, a tee time call center, two golf package companies and a few popular golf- and tourism-related websites.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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