Myrtle Beach has grown from a sleepy beach town into the world’s most popular golf destination, attracting players from across the globe to the Grand Strand. With the heart of the spring golf season rapidly approaching, the Myrtle Beach golf community took time to honor some of the people most responsible for its rise.
W. Cecil Brandon, Clay Brittain, Jr., Carolyn Cassidy Cudone, Jimmy D’Angelo, General James F. Hackler, Jr. and Robert White were inducted into the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame on a sunny, Thursday morning at Pine Lakes Country Club, cementing their place in Myrtle Beach golf history.
The induction ceremony was held in the new Hall of Fame Garden at Pine Lakes, and each inductee was honored with a permanent monument. The Hall of Fame Garden is located in shadow of Pine Lakes’ historic clubhouse. The ceremony was part of the celebration of the re-opening of Pine Lakes, Myrtle Beach’s first course.
The event was chocked with emotion, laughs and a respect for the contributions each person has made to Myrtle Beach’s growth.
Brandon and Brittain helped found Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday and are widely credited as the driving forces behind the area’s stunning growth as a golf destination. Brittain is the patriarch of Myrtle Beach National, one of the Southeast’s largest golf course and accommodations groups. His vision, including the opening of King’s North, and dedication to Myrtle Beach’s growth were essential to the area’s development.
Beyond Brittain’s role in the growth of the Myrtle Beach golf market, he was also essential in the establishment of Coastal Carolina University’s Professional Golf Management program, one of the nation’s finest.
“Being selected to the Hall of Fame has certainly been an exciting event,” Brittain said. “For many years greater Myrtle Beach has been and will (continue to) be an astonishing place to live, raise a family, and be in business … I’m certainly lucky to be here today and will never forget this marvelous occasion.”
Brandon was the marketing mastermind behind Myrtle Beach’s early emergence. He worked tirelessly to bring attention to the area and did so with great success. Brandon also worked closely with the PGA TOUR on the construction of the TPC-Myrtle Beach and to bring the PGA Senior TOUR Championship to the area.
“All the people that were working (in Myrtle Beach) gave up their own identity and promoted the area first,” Brandon said of the early days. “If everybody ran their own ads they couldn’t go very far, but they knew when they pooled their money we could do a great job of (promoting) Myrtle Beach.”
Cudone founded the Myrtle Beach Junior Golf Association and was one of the nation’s premier amateur players. Her work with the junior golf association helped 15 kids receive college scholarships. Cudone is perhaps best known for winning the US Senior Women’s Amateur Championship from 1968 to 1972, making her the only player to win five consecutive USGA events. She won a total of 10 USGA titles.
Brandon is regarded as “Mr. Golf” in Myrtle Beach, but D’Angelo was quite the marketer himself. The first head pro at the famed Dunes Club, D’Angelo hatched the idea of a testimonial dinner for the course’s architect, Robert Trent Jones, in 1954, and the event quickly grew into the Golf Writers Association of America Championship. Held the week before the Masters, the GWAA event exposed Myrtle Beach to the national golf media for 50 years, enhancing the area’s profile immeasurably.
Hackler’s name isn’t a familiar one to many people, but his impact was profound. Hackler revolutionized Myrtle Beach golf (and eventually the nation) by combining tee times and accommodations to create the first golf package. That’s right – the two-star, Air Force Major General is the father of the golf package. He also played a vital role in the opening of Bay Tree, the Grand Strand’s first three-course facility, and helped bring the 1977 LPGA Championship to the complex.
With Pine Lakes ready to reopen, it was only appropriate that White be apart of the inaugural class. The first president of the PGA of America, White was the original architect of Ocean Forest Country Club, now known as Pine Lakes, in 1927.
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