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Congaree puts its course, mission on display on PGA Tour

RIDGELAND, S.C. (AP) — Tucked in a distant location off I-95 in sparsely populated southern South Carolina, a hidden Tom Fazio format is able to present itself off to a nationwide viewers when the PGA Tour holds the Palmetto Championship at Congaree Golf Club this week.

“We’re rural, not remote,” stated Bruce Davidson, Congaree’s golf director.

It’s laborious to inform the distinction. There’s no signage pointing the best way from the freeway or an enormous, splashy entrance welcoming golfers and followers once they arrive. Still, the PGA Tour rushed so as to add Congaree to the schedule when COVID-19 considerations canceled the RBC Canadian Open.

“From the moment I stepped onto Congaree in 2019, I knew it was a special place,” Tour government vice chairman Ty Votaw stated.

The four-year-old course was constructed to problem the world’s greatest, Davidson stated. It had bid on the 2026 Presidents Cup matches, however misplaced out to Medinah Country Club in Illinois.

“We didn’t like that. We thought, ‘Why is it that we’re not giving us a chance? Do they see it as too remote?’” Davidson stated. “We see this week as proof of concept.”

The membership can definitely present it belongs among the many nation’s greatest programs this week. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and four-time main champion Brooks Koepka are amongst these teeing off Thursday within the final occasion to tune up for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines per week later.

The course ranks as No. 2 in South Carolina, in line with Golf Digest’s 2021 rankings — behind solely the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, which hosted the PGA Championship final month.

Golf was solely a part of the membership’s mission. It was began by billionaire businessmen Dan Friedkin and the late Robert McNair, who owned the NFL’s Houston Texans.

The two deliberate a spot the place members, some 200 who’re known as ambassadors, spent important time on philanthropy and rising the sport.

The membership established the Congaree Global Golf Initiative, which Davidson describes as a “junior boot camp” for these hoping to play or research the sport in school. Davidson stated there have been 68 girls and boys who’ve taken half and 27 have earned school scholarships.

Anthony Ford II from Atlanta now performs for North Carolina A&T. He remembers his time on the CGGI as intense. He had a full membership becoming for the primary time and found what he needed to do to play in school.

There are steering counselors who assist with SAT preparation together with high-level golf instruction, together with the enterprise a part of the sport.

“These kids come and they work with experts in our field,” Davidson stated.

The Congaree Foundation, the membership’s charity arm, lately bought close by nine-hole Sergeant Jasper Golf Club with the aim to create a course for prep golf groups and younger gamers to play and be taught.

Davidson stated membership ambassadors are beneficiant with their funds and their time. “The impact that they make to the kids by giving all their time as mentors has really allowed us to create a model which I think in the world today is unique,” he stated.

Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, is one such ambassador. He spurred fundraising to modernize the Sergeant Jasper course along with his “Recharge The Sarge” initiative, which raised $30,000, in line with course superintendent Bill Henderson.

The cash went to a brand new irrigation system.

“I’ve been around the game a long time and you hear things about places and most don’t deliver,” Glover stated. “This one delivers.”

Henderson, who’s spent his profession within the golf business, has seen loads of high-end golf equipment stuffed with energy members who promise huge issues. At Congaree, they’ve lived as much as their guarantees, he stated.

That was evident when Henderson was first clearing out the overgrown, 60-year-old public course. When he regarded up, a number of golf carts stuffed with Congaree golf professionals and officers, together with John McNeely, the inspiration’s government program director, had arrived to assist with the cleanup.

“They all wanted to know where they could start,” Henderson stated. “So I gave them all shovels. These are guys used to owning companies that do this, and they’re getting it done themselves.”

Davidson stated possession hasn’t given up its chase for golf’s huge occasions and plans to bid on one other Presidents Cup match between the United States and a global squad.

“That’s our hope,” Davidson stated.


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