The 78-year-old enjoyed a day at Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and one of only two courses Nicklaus designed along the Grand Strand with Long Bay Golf Club. Both courses are owned by Founders Group International (FGI).
Nicklaus was all smiles as he toured the 18-hole course and even surprised a few golfers who had tee times that day. Nicklaus returned to the range where 40 junior golfers with The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas, and some with the Dustin Johnson Golf School, received pointers from the Golden Bear.
“When we started The First Tee program back 20 years ago, it was a concept to teach the kids how to play golf, but it’s not about golf,” Nicklaus said, adding the program has grown to more than 7.5 million boys and girls nationwide. “It’s using golf as a vehicle to teach kids lessons in life. I thought that was far more important than a junior golf school.”
That’s part of the reason why FGI is so committed to growing the game along the Grand Strand via partnerships like the one they have with The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas.
Proceeds from a cocktail hour and dinner honoring Nicklaus’ visit went to the Project Golf program, which is an organization to support and advocate for the game of golf, provide golf educational programs that have a positive impact on participants of all ages, and to make the game of golf more accessible to the public.
Pawleys and Long Bay are just two of the 22 courses owned by FGI, the largest course owner on the Grand Strand, and designed by Nicklaus, who has courses in 40 states and 46 countries.
Steve Mays, president of FGI, said Nicklaus’ visit was an honor and great opportunity for staff members and those who consistently work hard to provide world-class golfing experiences.
“At FGI, we’re proud of the two Jack Nicklaus Signature Design courses being the only courses he designed among the more than 100 courses along the Grand Strand,” said Mays. “It’s only fitting that the Golden Bear commemorate 30 years of excellence at Pawleys Plantation and Long Bay — two of our more popular courses.”
Jack Nicklaus’ design career is nearing its 50th year. The Golden Bear’s first design, Harbour Town Golf Links in nearby Hilton Head, S.C., opened in 1969 with a PGA TOUR event. Since then, Jack and Nicklaus Design have created more than 415 courses worldwide, open for play in 46 countries and 40 U.S states. Jack Nicklaus has designed, co-designed or re-designed over 300 courses around the globe. Nicklaus Design courses have hosted more than 155 professional events or significant national amateur championships for a total of over 1,000 events worldwide. In addition, Nicklaus Design courses have been ranked more than 2,000 times in various national or international Top-100 lists.
Opened in October 1988, Pawleys Plantation is known for its 200-year-old moss-draped oaks, and untouched native lands around which Nicklaus navigated his design. The course was designed with plenty of strategically placed bunkers, water-lined fairways, and subtly undulating, well-guarded greens. The course is also known for “Jack’s Tree,” a sprawling oak tree situated in the middle of the fairway on the 14th hole.
FGI-owned Long Bay Golf Club in Longs, S.C., also opened in October 1988. Long Bay is another Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course celebrating a milestone anniversary. Set just outside Myrtle Beach, the course is characterized by its shallow greens and a variety of bunker styles for a round that can test every club in your bag. Nicklaus carefully designed Long Bay to create a captivating course that winds through maples, dogwoods, and pines, while highlighting the natural surroundings. Long Bay Club has received a 4.5-star ranking from Golf Digest’s “Places to Play.”
Bill Golden, president of Golf Tourism Solutions, a marketing arm of Myrtle Beach golf that helped coordinate Nicklaus’ trip, said it was an honor to have Nicklaus visit Myrtle Beach.
“The two courses he designed here — Pawleys Plantation and Long Bay — have long been among the area’s most popular, and the Myrtle Beach golf community relished Mr. Nicklaus’ time here,” Golden said. “To see the ease with which the greatest player who has ever played the game interact with its future at the First Tee clinic was special for everyone.”
About Founders Group International
Founders Group International (FGI) is the foremost golf course owner-operator company in the Southeastern United States. Formed in 2014 through various purchases and the 2015 acquisition of National Golf Management, FGI owns and operates 22 golf courses (423 holes) in and around Myrtle Beach, S.C., America's seaside golf capital.
Those courses include Pine Lakes Country Club, the “granddaddy” of Myrtle Beach area courses; TPC Myrtle Beach, host site of the 2019 NCAA Division I men's golf regional and Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship; and Grande Dunes Resort Club, home of the Grande Dunes Golf Performance Center.
FGI administers www.MBN.com, a leader in online tee time bookings, as well as package outlet Myrtle Beach Golf Trips. With the help of Golf Insider’s 100 percent player-generated course ranking system, thousands of golfers plan and assemble their ideal golf itineraries through FGI’s assets, including “top-100 caliber” courses Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, King’s North at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club, and more than 80 other Myrtle Beach area courses.