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I first met Jim McFadden when he owned and operated Mac’s Caddy Shack in the Old Southport Village Shops on Howe Street.
Jim has been immersed in the game of golf since a boy. During the years, he caddied for golf legends like Arnold Palmer, Payne Stewart and Steve Stricker at the Kittansett and Myopia clubs in Massachusetts. He worked in private club management, ran tournaments, worked in retail golf sales and was a senior account executive at a regional golf magazine.
When we first met, Jim was seriously thinking about creating an entity called the Coastal Carolinas Golf Association. It would be a golf trail, similar to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama, which would promote golf and related activities and businesses on the North and South Carolina coast. Now that dream is becoming a reality.
“Myrtle Beach is the giant of the Carolina Coast. They spend a lot of advertizing dollars and lots of folks visit and enjoy Myrtle Beach every year. That’s terrific, but there is so much more to this region. Excellent golf courses are strung along this coast from the Outer Banks south all the way to Charleston, Beaufort and Hilton Head,” Jim said.
“My dream is to unite those courses into one big association that would benefit the smaller markets. We’ve established a website and are making strides in getting golf courses and related industries to sign up to be part of the Coastal Carolinas Golf Association.”
Jim’s face lights up when he talks about his plans for the CCGA.
“I quit my job at Verizon and let go of the golf shop in Southport because I wanted to devote 100 percent of my time, knowledge and energy into making this thing work,” he said. “I’m spending between 50 and 70 hours a week on the CCGA and right now, it’s looking good.”
Jim has made a connection with Our State magazine and will have an article in the November issue.
“I’m working with them to start a golf section in their magazine and they are enthusiastic,” he said. “This would be a great boon to the association because the magazine has a huge circulation not just in North Carolina but around the country.”
Another initiative that Jim has undertaken is with Coastal Carolina University and its Professional Golf Management program.
“CCU has been very supportive,” he said. “I will have two interns from their PGM program working with me shortly. This will be a big help to me and a wonderful way for young people to learn the golf industry from the marketing perspective.”
Jim has joined forces with Play Golf America, the eGolf Tour, the Executive Women’s Golf Association and The First Tee of the Grand Strand to promote golf on the Carolina Coast.
“What I see developing is not my Coastal Carolinas Golf Association but our Coastal Carolinas Golf Association,” he said. “I’m working to get the Carolinas Section of the PGA involved plus the Carolina Golf Course Superintendents Association. This would be a great vehicle to let folks know what our pros and our superintendents are doing for the game of golf. I’d like to see a teaching video each month from a different golf pro and articles from our superintendents about what they do and how they do it.”
Jim hopes to form an advisory board to help with the Coastal Carolinas Golf Association.
“I want people in the industry to think of this as their vehicle to tell folks about golf on the Carolina Coast,” he said.
One of Jim’s first events will take place Nov. 12 at Carolina National and features Meredith Wright Kirk, a teaching golf professional and Christian educator. Meredith is author of “Thy Club and Thy Staff.” The book contains 21 daily devotionals for golfers.
Meredith lives in Murrells Inlet, S.C., with her husband and three sons. She is a certified USGTF Golf Instructor and has degrees from Coastal Carolina University and Trinity Bible College.
The event will begin with a noon luncheon followed by nine holes of golf at
1 p.m. At 3 p.m., Meredith will speak and do a book signing. The cost for the lunch, tournament and a signed copy of “Thy Club and Thy Staff” is $50. Additional copies of the book will be available for $15.
The public is invited to attend the entire event or just come for the 3 p.m. book signing. For more information or for reservations, contact Jim McFadden at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (760) 636-9179.
Jim bubbles with ideas for future projects. He’s looking into creating a Ferry Adventure Trip for golfers.
“Golfers could start in the Outer Banks and take a series of ferries down the coast and play golf at each stop,” he said. “Wouldn’t that be fun?”
“How about getting travel agents to come to our smaller venues on FAM (Familiarization) trips? If we can get travel agents from other parts of the country to come here and learn about our area, it will grow both golf and tourism here,” Jim said. “Right now, the Currituck (Outer Banks) Tourism Bureau is very interested in what we’re doing.”
Jim believes the Carolina Coast is a wonderful area and is presently under-marketed, except for the larger venues like Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island.
“The islands right here in Brunswick Country are beautiful with temperate climates,” he said. “This area is family oriented with great beaches, golf courses, hotels, motels and beach rentals. We have great fishing and boating and amazing restaurants. Companies can come right here for meetings and conferences; churches can schedule retreats here. Families can come for reunions. The Carolina coast is so much better for a meeting than Philadelphia or Baltimore or Chicago. Why not here? We have everything.”
The cost to join the Coastal Carolinas Golf Association is minimal right now, depending on the level of service a golf course or business could want, Jim explained.
“Our basic membership is $150 per year,” he said. “If someone wants a more intense, complicated link on the website, it will cost more. We can do calendars, announcements, newsletters, video clips and provide a connection to the outside world. Our website is all about providing information, about getting out the word on our golf courses and related businesses.
“The Coastal Carolinas Golf Association is not about booking golf trips. We are pure public relations. We want to provide an inexpensive way for smaller golf venues to get out the word.”
If determination and hard work can make a dream come true, Jim is on the right track. The CCGA could be good for the area and, more specifically, for our golf industry.
It’s all about growing the game, folks.
Check out www.coastalcarolinasgolftrail.com.
Golf Gab groaner
I didn’t know whether my granddaughter had learned her colors yet, so I decided to test her. I pointed to various objects in the room and asked what color they were. She was always correct and I was having fun, so I continued.
At last, my granddaughter said she was tired and headed out the door. As she left, she turned to me and said, “Grandma, you really should figure out some of these yourself.”
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for The Beacon. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein.