One of the true characters in the development of the Myrtle Beach golf industry, and a hotelier and longtime course operator will be the newest members of the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame.
The late Ed Bullock was a golf pro who had a hand in the growing of the market beginning in the late 1950s, and Larry Leagans, 75, was involved in golf packages through hotels and later leased Eagle Nest Golf Club for two decades.
“I’m very humbled by it really and honored by it as well,” Leagans said. “Most of the people who are in that little semicircle I know and have worked with most of them. . . . Mr. Bullock was a good friend of mine from a long time back.”
The hall of fame induction ceremony will be Sept. 20 at Pine Lakes Country Club, which houses the Hall of Fame Garden behind the clubhouse.
Bullock was nicknamed the Gentle Curmudgeon by his contemporaries, and was later dubbed the Pied Piper of Myrtle Beach Golf.
“He tried to bring golf to the beach,” said his daughter, Tricia. “That’s why they called him the Pied Piper because everyone followed him. I don’t think the golf course business would have been near what it was without him.”
Bullock was in the Air Force during World War II and held a job at Western Electric after his discharge before deciding he wanted to be involved in golf for the remainder of his life.
He entered the PGA of America program and became a head pro at a pair of courses in North Carolina before being named head pro at the Shaw Air Force Base course in Sumter.
He moved to Myrtle Beach around 1958, built a nine-hole par-3 course at what later became the site of the Myrtle Square Mall, and was named the head pro and construction supervisor at Horry County’s third course, The Surf Golf and Beach Club, which opened in 1960.
Bullock was named head pro and construction supervisor at Myrtle Beach National, which opened three courses between 1972-1974 with Arnold Palmer as an architect, and remained there until his retirement in 1985. He was named the Carolinas PGA Professional of the Year in 1972 and was inducted into the CPGA Hall of Fame in 1993.
Bullock died in 1995 at the age of 77. His widow, Harriet, died in 2010.
Tricia, 66, the last living child among Bullock’s three daughters, said he was extremely outgoing and boisterous, and whenever the family would travel to other parts of the Carolinas, somebody was likely to know her father.
“I don’t think he ever went anywhere where he didn’t know somebody there or didn’t become friends with somebody there,” she said.
Tricia said her parents would vacation each winter in Florida while the kids were in school, but summer family vacations were spent at the Cabana Terrace Motor Inn in North Myrtle Beach, which was just about close enough to the Surf Club to see it.
“Golf was his whole life,” Tricia said. “Everything we did centered around his golf. He lived and breathed golf.”
Aside from golf, Bullock was instrumental in Myrtle Beach hosting the ACC’s annual athletics meeting and organized an affiliated golf outing each year. Legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith was among Bullock’s partners in the tournament.
Leagans was stationed at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in 1964 and worked part-time at the Thunderbird Motor Inn, eventually becoming full time after leaving the military.
He was general manager of the Cabana Terrace Motor Inn from 1971-85, and got more heavily involved in golf packaging when he leased Eagle Nest Golf Club for 20 years from the late state senator Dick Elliott.
“He happened to mention to me one day after we played golf, ‘You don’t know anyone who would be interested in leasing a golf course, do you?’ ” I said, ‘No Dick, I don’t, but I’ll look around.’ Then I got to thinking about it and I kept thinking that’s a pretty good fit for me.”
Leagans leased the Little River course with a pair of partners for 10 years, then leased it himself for the next 10 years into 2001.
He became an influential member of the golf market through his involvement in industry associations.
Leagans was a board member of the Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday marketing cooperative for more than 20 years, serving as secretary, vice president and president of the co-op, and introduced initiatives to help the golf industry as president of the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association.
He also served as a charter board member of the Grand Strand Tee Time Network and vice president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
“It was a dual purpose because that was part of my business, but in addition to that I did want to give back some time to the community,” Leagans said. “I wanted to give back to my community, too, because the community has been so good to me.”
Leagans retired in 2001 and has maintained regular golf matches twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays, and his groups have included Hall of Fame members George Hilliard and Vernon Brake, as well as Elliott and former Burroughs & Chapin Co. executive Doug Wendel.
Leagans, a resident of North Myrtle Beach, expects his two children, Lawrence Leagans and April Murphy, and five grandchildren to be in attendance at his induction, as well as a few of his golfing buddies. His wife, Jane, died in 2016.
There are 23 existing member of the Myrtle Beach Golf HOF: General James Hackler, Cecil Brandon, Clay Brittain, Carolyn Cudone, Jimmy D’Angelo, Robert White, George ‘Buster’ Bryan, Charlie Byers, Paul Himmelsbach, Gary Schaal, J. Egerton Burroughs, J.Bryan Floyd, Edward Jerdon, Casper Leon Benton, George Hilliard, Critt Gore, Russell ‘Doc’ Burgess, Sandy Miles, Phillip Goings, Edward Burroughs, Kelly Tilghman, Vernon Brake and Bob LeComte.
TPC revamps bunkers
TPC Myrtle Beach is undergoing bunker renovations to minimize sand erosion from heavy rainfall, and the reconstructing of the bunkers is being overseen by Tom Marzolf, senior design associate for Fazio Golf Course Designers Inc.
TPC Myrtle Beach was designed by Tom Fazio with input from player consultant Lanny Wadkins.
The work is being done in segments and will not interrupt play.
The new bunker drainage system is called the “Better Billy Bunker” after its creator, golf course designer Billy Fuller. The system has been installed in more than 600 courses across the U.S. and Europe, including six other TPC courses.
In the drainage system, a two-inch layer of pea gravel is treated with a unique polymer explicitly designed for bunkers. The gravel layer allows for water to quickly flow to the drain and it’s estimated the drainage reduces the workforce required to repair bunkers after heavy rain by more than 80 percent.
TPC Myrtle Beach will host the 2019 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Golf Regional from May 12-15.
Free golf offered
Sandpiper Bay Golf & Country Club in Sunset Beach, N.C., is hosting an afternoon of free golf on Saturday.
Sandpiper Bay Family Golf Day includes a clinic and cookout on the range at noon and nine holes of play beginning at 1 p.m. Adults and children ages 5-17 are welcome to participate. A cart and range balls are included in the free event.
Players can register by contacting the pro shop at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-579-9120.
Participants will experience some of Sandpiper’s new Sunday ultradwarf Bermudagrass greens.
Holliday accepts entries
Registration is open for the George Holliday Memorial Junior, which is being held on Thanksgiving weekend from Nov. 22-24 on at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club’s three courses and is celebrating its 50th year.
The tournament has boys divisions for ages 10-11, 12-13, 14-15 and 16-18 and girls division for ages 10-12, 13-14 and 15-18.
Organizers say last year’s event included players from Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Mexico.
Incoming Coastal Carolina player Brady Hinkle of Lancaster won the 2017 boys title and Gracyn Burgess of Lexington won the girls title. Players can register at http://myrtlebeachjuniorgolf.com.
The George Holliday is the third oldest junior tournament in South Carolina and is held in remembrance of George Judson Holliday III of Galivants Ferry, a junior and collegiate golfer who was killed in an automobile accident in 1967 at the age of 22.
Events in Carolinas
The SwingThought pro golf tour that is headquartered on the Grand Strand has begun a stretch of four consecutive events in the Carolinas.
A 36-hole event was held at Pine Island Golf Club in Charlotte last week, and a 36-hole event with $7,500 guaranteed to the winner is next Monday and Tuesday at Bryan Park Golf Club in Greensboro, N.C., a 54-hole event with a cut and $7,500 guaranteed first place is Aug. 15-17 at Tega Cay Golf Club outside Charlotte, and a 72-hole event with a cut and $10,000 guaranteed first place is Aug. 21-24 at Columbia Country Club in Blythewood.