PGA Tour player Lucas Glover has carried a new item in his bag the past few weeks as part of an effort to help “recharge” a local course.
Glover is using a club head cover from Ridgeland’s Sergeant Jasper Golf Club, known locally as “The Sarge.” The Congaree Foundation recently acquired Sergeant Jasper to renovate it for the public and to host youth programs.
Congaree Golf Club near Gillisonville is the host of the upcoming Palmetto Championship, a PGA Tour event that was added to the schedule June 10-13 in place of the RBC Canadian Open, which was canceled because of logistical challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials have said the tournament will benefit Congaree’s community programs. Glover spoke about the effort to “Recharge the Sarge” at the media day for the Palmetto Championship at Congaree.
“I grew up here in the state, in Greenville County,” Glover said. “I had dinner with (Congaree managing director) John McNeely where everybody was sitting a couple weeks back and he told me the story of ‘The Sarge’ and we literally hatched the idea for ‘Recharge the Sarge’ over dinner,” he said.
The nine-hole course off Glover Road in Ridgeland has been a staple in the community since the 1960s.
Board president Bradley Bonds said in February that the course once had many stockholders, but most have passed away and membership dropped dramatically. His father and fellow board member Buzz Bonds said the club started with about 130 members and dwindled to 10 at one point, though it rebounded to 45-50.
“The club was in need of financial assistance and Congaree had approached the board about taking over ownership of the club to utilize it, in part, for youth golf,” Bradley Bonds said earlier this year. “We went through the process with Congaree to make it public. They explained they wanted to have youth golf programs and still have golf for the public. This facility was not going to be there much longer had it not been for Congaree Foundation saving the golf course.”
Glover said the idea to help raise money for The Sarge came about as Congaree was installing turf and grass.
“They were literally watering (the course) with a hose,” he said. “I said that’s not OK. That’s not right. And John explained to me some of the statistics of the county and who needs to play there and who plays there and who wants to play there and that’s when I said let’s see what I can do to help.”
Glover said “The Sarge” headcover is simply for awareness.
“It’s kind of cool when you’re on tour and you’ve got something weird on your bag, everybody asks about it,” he said. “That gave me an outlet to say, hey, this is what we are doing, hey, do you want in, and four or five guys were in like that.”
McNeely said Glover came up with an idea at the RBC Heritage to donate money to The Sarge for every eagle and birdie a player made. They raised a total of $7,300, which tournament winner Stewart Cink matched.
Glover said he sent Cink a congratulatory text the Monday after his win and Cink said, “Thanks, awesome week, I am matching what you guys did last week.”
“There was $15,000 just like that,” Glover said. “They started the new irrigation out there and it is so awesome.”
The Congaree Foundation also hosts underserved students for its Congaree Global Golf Initiative. It welcomes students from around the world, including many from South Carolina and Georgia. They participate in an intensive camp that provides golf instruction and college admission prep.
“The Sarge is going to improve,” Glover said. “That gives people of all ages and demographics an opportunity to play golf. Let’s say an 8-year-old learns at The Sarge and then six or seven years later he turns into a pretty good player, not fortunate in life, then he might be able to come to the institution here to learn and improve and then go to college, so no telling what it could do.”
Congaree director of golf Bruce Davidson thanked Glover for getting world No. 1 Dustin Johnson interested in the Palmetto Championship. Johnson also has committed to play in the event. Glover said he just wanted to make sure Johnson knew the people at Congaree wanted him in the field.
McNeely said he hopes the attention the tournament brings to the area will help Congaree assist even more young people with its programs in Jasper County, including The Sarge.
“For the golf world and the media to see what we are doing here, it is immeasurable in how we can spread the gospel of Congaree, but also people can understand what Dan Friedkin’s vision was, along with Bob McNair, and be able to tell our story across the globe,” he said, referring to the club’s founders.
“Hopefully, this will lead to more kids that we can have (in our programs) and more initiatives in Jasper County and beyond.”