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Youth leader, four-decade contributor inducted into Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame

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Jack Himmelsbach has followed in his older brother’s footsteps since the two were young.

That included following Paul to the Myrtle Beach area and into the golf industry around 1980. He has now taken one big step behind him into the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame.

Jack Himmelsbach was inducted along with longtime area pro Gene Weldon on Sept. 29 in a ceremony at Pine Lakes Country Club, where the Hall of Fame Garden resides.

Jack Himmelsback (left) with older brother Paul Himmelsbach during the 2022 Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Golf Tourism Solutions)

Jack Himmelsbach

Himmelsbach was honored for his contributions to the area, which extend beyond golf. His involvement dates back to about 1980, and he was managing partner of Glens Golf Group, the developer and operator of Heather Glen Golf Links, Glen Dornoch Waterway Golf Club and Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club.

He served as managing partner and had a role in the design and building of the courses. The company also operated Possum Trot Golf Club.

Himmelsbach has also been involved in Himmelsbach Communications. which published the golf publication On The Green Magazine for decades. He has been a partner in Wicked Stick Golf Links and Rivers Edge Golf Club. Heather Glen, Possum Trot and Wicked Stick closed in favor of redevelopment, and the other three courses remain open.

Himmelsbach has served the golf industry through many positions including president of the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association, and board member of marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday and the Grand Strand Tee Time Network.

“Even when I was young and in high school, . . . he was always my hero,” Jack Himmelsbach said of his brother and fellow hall member. “Not many brothers can work together for 47 years and still love each other, because we love each other. We’d do anything for each other. There’s no other way to explain it.”

“I owe my good life to Myrtle Beach and golf. It has given me a life I never thought I’d ever have, and there are so many people who were so important to that,” Himmelsbach said.

As president of the course owners association, he spent time on the committee that chose hall inductees.

“I remember being on the committee that picked the people that were going to be nominated, and that was always a very difficult decision,” he said. “The golf community here, we’ve got some of the best people in Myrtle Beach.

“. . . To get this honor today is unbelievable because I was there deciding on the great people that made Myrtle Beach golf what it is today.”

Himmelsbach, 74, who has four children, grew up on Long Island, N.Y., earned a college degree in business management in West Virginia, spent two years in the Army, and spent 10 years in Vermont largely in carpentry before moving to Myrtle Beach.

Paul, who is eight years older, had started On The Green a couple years prior and welcomed help on the business side with the new venture. “He needed help and I needed to find a place so we moved down here,” Himmelsbach said.

“Without him I would not be here. I wouldn’t be anywhere nearly as successful,” Paul Himmelsbach said.

Himmelsbach has further served the community as president and treasurer of the Myrtle Beach YMCA for 15 years, and as a board member of the North Myrtle Beach Rotary and St. Andrews Parish.

Gene Weldon

Wil Weldon honored his father Gene Weldon during the 2022 Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Pine Lakes Country Club. (Photo courtesy of Golf Tourism Solutions)

“I hope that’s his legacy, what he did for the children in this game,” said Weldon’s son, Wil.

Wil Weldon

Weldon spent nearly 50 years as a PGA professional, and was a mentor to numerous fellow PGA pros and junior golfers on the Grand Strand. He died in 2017 at the age of 68.

He used his position to consistently promote junior golf and youth initiatives. After Weldon’s death in 2017 at the age of 68, former Golf Channel personality and North Myrtle Beach native Kelly Tilghman joined the Weldon family and others in establishing the Gene’s Dream Foundation.

Its mission is to raise funds for The First Tee and other junior golf initiatives, and continue Weldon’s legacy of supporting youth through golf. He was the head pro at Gator Hole Golf Club, which was owned by Tilghman’s family, in her youth and served as a mentor to her. She is also in the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame.

He was on the ground floor of junior golf in Myrtle Beach, working alongside fellow Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame inductee Carolyn Cudone to form a junior golf program in her name in 1981.

He was also instrumental in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund The Golf Club at Cinghiale Creek learning center for The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas golf and youth development organization, whose programs and Nine Core Values use golf as a tool to teach life skills.

He supported The First Tee and its programs until his death. The Mentor Cup, a tournament featuring junior golfers and their mentors that was created by those affiliated with the Gene’s Dream Foundation, honors Weldon.

Weldon was the only head pro at Gator Hole Golf Club for the course’s entire 20-year existence from 1980-99, spent nine years as the director of golf at Thistle Golf Club, and was East Coast Golf Management’s director of new business development late in his career. His other stops included Beachwood Golf Club, Arcadian Shores Golf Club, Waterway Hills Golf Club, Surf Golf and Beach Club, and Sandpiper Bay Golf Club.

In 2015, the Hartsville native and Navy veteran was named both the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association Tommy Cuthbert State Employee of the Year and the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association’s Employee of the Year.

His genial personality made him a natural to represent the area at consumer golf shows throughout North America for more than three decades.

He was called “The Godfather” by pros in the area for the role he played in the market and the professional development of many of them.

The Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame Garden resides behind the clubhouse at Pine Lakes Country Club. (Alan Blondin photo)

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