Stories were shared Thursday night at Pine Lakes Country Club that exhibited Ed Bullock’s unique personality and what made him one of the most influential golf professionals in the history of the Myrtle Beach golf market, and how Larry Leagans became a leader both in golf and the Grand Strand community.
The two men were inducted during a ceremony into the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame, which resides in the Hall of Fame Garden behind the Pine Lakes clubhouse.
“I can’t explain in words what this means to me,” said Leagans, 75. “It’s a great pleasure to be able to join those people who are out there now. I visited this summer and looked at the people and names there, and it’s very special for me to be added into that group.”
The induction ceremony was postponed from Sept. 20 because of Hurricane Florence and the flooding in its aftermath.
Bullock had a hand in the growing of the market beginning in the late 1950s, and Leagans, 75, was involved in golf packages through hotels and later leased Eagle Nest Golf Club for two decades.
Former Myrtle Beach mayor John Rhodes and past PGA of America presidents Gary Schaal and Will Mann all worked under Bullock. Rhodes was a cart attendant under Bullock at the Surf Club in the late 1960s, while Schaal and Mann worked for him in the early days of Myrtle Beach National in the early 1970s – Schaal as an assistant pro and Mann as superintendent. “He was somebody that had a knack for hiring the right people for his golf courses,” Rhodes said.
The three regaled the room with Bullock stories. Bullock was nicknamed the Gentle Curmudgeon by his contemporaries, and he was more curmudgeon than gentle on the surface to his employees, who all called him “Mr. Bullock.”
“Mr. Bullock was a great mentor,” Mann said. “He taught us a lot of lessons we actually use today and remember, and he was a great influence in our lives.”
Schaal recalled telling Bullock he planned to interview for a job at Pine Lakes, and Bullock scoffing that he was “stupid” and “not ready.” By the next day Bullock had arranged an interview for Schaal, who was hired for the job.
“He was a great, great ambassador for our area,” Rhodes said. “He promoted this beach, promoted golf as well as anybody we’ve ever had. And everybody knew him. Everybody knew Ed Bullock. If you came to Myrtle Beach to play golf, you wanted to go to Surf Club because of Ed. . . . He was one of the premier pros that’s ever been on the Grand Strand.”
Leagans was drafted into the Air Force in the 1960s and came to Myrtle Beach when he was stationed at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.
After leaving the military, he was general manager of the Cabana Terrace Motor Inn from 1971-85, and got more heavily involved in golf packaging when he leased Eagle Nest Golf Club for 20 years.
Leagans has taken it upon himself to help the community prosper. He was a board member of the Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday marketing cooperative for more than 20 years, serving as secretary, vice president and president of the co-op, and introduced initiatives to help the golf industry as president of the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association.
He also served as a charter board member of the Grand Strand Tee Time Network and vice president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, and has served on several other community associations and boards.
“Larry has helped to tote the load,” said former Burroughs & Chapin CEO Doug Wendel, who presented Leagans and has been a regular golf buddy for 40 years.
Leagans retired in 2001 and still plays twice a week while regularly volunteering for Lakeside Baptist Church.
Bullock and Leagans joined the other 23 members of the Myrtle Beach Golf HOF: General James Hackler, Cecil Brandon, Clay Brittain, Carolyn Cudone, Jimmy D’Angelo, Robert White, George ‘Buster’ Bryan, Charlie Byers, Paul Himmelsbach, Schaal, J. Egerton Burroughs, J.Bryan Floyd, Edward Jerdon, Casper Leon Benton, George Hilliard, Critt Gore, Russell ‘Doc’ Burgess, Sandy Miles, Phillip Goings, Edward Burroughs, Kelly Tilghman, Vernon Brake and Bob LeComte.