MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Have you ever wanted to learn how to play the game of golf but weren’t quite sure how to get started?
Gene Augustine, a decorated military veteran and former president of the Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach, has been named the first director of Project Golf, a nonprofit organization focused on helping members of the local golf community get out onto the course.
“Golf is that game you can play for a lifetime,” said Augustine.
Augustine and Projects Golf’s long-term mission will be to grow the game of golf in new ways in Myrtle Beach.
First, they have to get non-golfers interested in the game.
“We’re the golf capital of the world. What a fantastic way to meet people and experience the beauty than being out on the golf course,” said Augustine.
While most golfers in Myrtle Beach are vacationers, Project Golf wants to encourage locals of all ages to get involved with the sport, that can often intimidate those getting on the course for the first time.
“We’re going to take away that discomfort,” said Augustine.
Project Golf will teach how to check into a golf course, book a tee time, the language, the rules of the course and the pace of play.
Classes will be made up of 18 to 20 golfers, building up theirs comfort level and social aspect on the course.
Joe Puma has been playing golf for more than 70 years and encourages everyone to pick up a pair of clubs and give it swing at least once.
“Just to get out in the fresh air and get your mind off a lot of other things,” said Puma.
Exercise and mental health is also a key component to Project Golf.
With two decades of military service in the Marine Corps, Augustine has used golf as an escape from reality.
“Golf definitely has a deep meaning to me,” said Augustine.
While raising interest in the sport is Project Golf’s top priority, it’s not the organization’s only mission.
Project Golf has raised money to help members of the local golf community in need and is actively reaching out to disabled veterans, using golf as a means of therapy.
“I was playing golf the other day with a guy who hit a great athletic shot and was like, ‘How old are you?’ He said 85 and I thought, ‘Wow that great,’” said Augustine.
Project Golf will have their first official meeting on April 30 at the Robert Reed Recreation Center.
For more information on Project Golf, visit ProjectGolf.org.