Players Assistance Reserve (PAR) Fund
Grant Bennett was a fixture in Carolinas golf for decades, as a golf course superintendent, player and coach. Already an accomplished player, he ventured into the dual role of pro-superintendent at New Bern Golf and Country Club in 1946. He was at Florence Country Club as superintendent when he became the first secretary of the Carolinas GCSA.
During his time in Florence, Bennett furthered his reputation as an outstanding manager of both turf and people, particularly younger ones. The first Florence Junior Invitational (now known as the Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational) was played at Florence Country Club in 1952. This came just one year after the legendary Bennett arrived at FCC as head professional/superintendent and remains as the longest running junior tournament in South Carolina going on year 64. Upon Bennett’s arrival, he quickly invigorated a junior program that cultivated young players from the area into championship level competitors via the ‘ladder system’ where in order to move up the ranks, you had to outperform the person ahead of you!
From 1956-1970, Bennett’s high school golf team that he coached, McClenaghan High, won an unprecedented 11 SC High School Championships, while losing only one match on the way. From 1956-’58, pupils of Bennett, John Orr and Buddy Baker both made it to the big stage playing in the USGA Junior Am. In 1958, Billy Womack also made the field. Out of those three players, Orr made it to the third round, Womack to the semi-finals and Baker earned the title of the 1958 USGA Junior Am Champion.
Along the way, Bennett produced several PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. He was the PGA of America’s national junior chairman. Bennett’s efforts and successes earned the blessings of USGA and in 1963, FCC hosted the USGA Junior Am (in 1955 FCC hosted the first USGA Championship conducted in S.C. – the USGA Junior Girls Championship).
As co-founder of the Carolinas GCSA, and his executive role, Bennett began a tradition of leadership among superintendents from Florence Country Club. Association presidents, Chuck Green and Jeff Connell, each worked there. Bennett also became a member of the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame, the Carolinas PGA Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.
Bennett moved on to build the Country Club of South Carolina in Florence and ultimately, in 1964, Bennett headed for Columbia where he was head professional at the WildeWood and Crickentree clubs.
Some of the accomplishments and accolades of Mr. Bennett included:
30 year member (1960-1990) of the USGA’s Junior Championship Committee
PGA of America’s National Junior Chairman
Carolinas Golf, South Carolina Golf, Carolinas PGA & SC Athletic Halls of Fame
Co-Founder of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association