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Brunswick natives give back through golf

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By Brian Slattery

SUPPLY—Many people spent Easter weekend visiting friends in their old hometown.

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Emerson Fullwood and Ken Johnson came back to Brunswick County to play a round of golf with friends and fund scholarships for college-bound students.

“We do all this for the local kids,” Fullwood said to the players while thanking them for participating in the Fullwood-Johnson Golf Classic.

“They want to be like you guys and ladies.”

The childhood friends hosted their 17th annual tournament at Lockwood Folly Country Club on Saturday.

About 100 friends and colleagues joined them for the day-long event.

After leaving Brunswick County for North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, respectively, Fullwood worked his way up the corporate ladder with Xerox, while Johnson became an attorney in Greensboro.

The two men stayed in touch and got together for a golf weekend once a year, with Fullwood bringing a group of co-workers from Rochester, N.Y., and Johnson coming with a group from Greensboro.

Charles Barrentine, a former vice president with Kodak and current chairman of the board of Greensboro’s Bennett College, was making the trip to play golf with Fullwood and Johnson before the tournament was even considered.

“We used to trip to Myrtle Beach from Rochester yearly,” Barrentine said.

“When (Fullwood and Johnson) decided to do something for the local community, (the golf tournament) drew people from all across the country. And once you knew people were coming, you wanted to come back.”

“We were having a good time golfing but then thought of it as a way to give back,” Fullwood said.

They set up the tournament at Lockwood Folly Golf Club, which is a factor in bringing the golfers back each year.

“We have loyal friends who come for years and years,” Fullwood said. “And the club has been a wonderful host. We love the hospitality, and it’s one of the best courses in the region.”

Jack Brown, a tax attorney in Atlanta, came home to play in the tournament. Brown is a 1982 graduate of West Brunswick High School who was also a student writer for the Brunswick Beacon.

Over the 17 years they have run the tournament, $150,000 has been raised to provide about 100 scholarships.

“We’ve provided scholarships to (students going to) UNC, Wake Forest, Morehouse, ECU, Howard University, schools across the country,” Fullwood said.

“They have been able to keep it going for a lot of years,” Barrentine said. “It’s not easy to run a (golf) tournament, to maintain the enthusiasm and maintain the benefit to the community,”

Barrentine has played in the tournament for a dozen of the past 17 years.

“I continue to support it, even if I don’t get to come play,” he said.

“People get very excited about the tournament. There are a lot of good friends here. A lot of them make it part of their vacation.”

While the group played in a brisk wind, the rain and an alligator living at the 15th hole were kept at bay.

Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones made it to his third tournament.

“I was with Kenny at UNC,” Jones said. “I heard about the tournament and got an invitation.”

Jones said he knows the type of people Fullwood and Johnson are because of their work ethic and the need to give back to the community.

“Emerson and Kenneth expressed their commitment to their community, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Jones said. “We want to express our support for youngsters.”

But Jones also made the trip because he wants to win the tournament.

“I want to kick tail,” Jones said.

“And it’s all for a good cause.”

 

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.