Rivers Edge Golf Pro Profiled by Golf Columnist

In this week’s June 20th edition of the Brunswick Beacon Mike Buccerone, PGA golf professional at Rivers Edge, is profiled by golf columnist Elsa Bonstein, read her article here:

One of the joys of being the golf columnist for The Brunswick Beacon is the opportunity to meet new people, to interface with them and find out what makes them tick. Everyone has a story and Mike Buccerone, PGA golf professional at Rivers Edge, has a great one.

Most golf pros are hard working, dedicated, intelligent folks who love the game of golf. I speak from personal experience: one of my sons-in-law is a PGA Pro and during the years, Gene and I have made many friends in the ranks of golf professionals. Mike Buccerone is a dynamo, heavily involved in the business of golf. He is the general manager of Rivers Edge, plus he is one of two partners in East Coast Golf Management, a new company that manages and markets golf courses in Brunswick County and in South Carolina.

East Coast Golf Management is headquartered in Murrells Inlet, S.C.; Rivers Edge is in Shallotte. Mike lives in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., between his two commitments.

“I’m at Rivers Edge 70 percent of the time,” he said as we chatted in the beautiful Rivers Edge clubhouse overlooking the salt marshes of the Shallotte River.

“Rivers Edge converted from bent grass greens to SeaDwarf Paspallum greens two years ago. It came in great, then we had some issues with fertilizer, but now the course is in excellent shape. For a while, none of us was getting any sleep, but we’re happy now because the greens are great.”

Rivers Edge is an Arnold Palmer design and has consistently received high ratings from Golf Digest (4½ stars, listed 62 in 100 Best Courses You Can Play). The Charlotte Observer listed it as one of the “Top 5 Courses in North Carolina,” after Pinehurst No. 2, Pine Needles and Linville Golf Club. Six of the holes run along the Shallotte River. My favorite is the notorious ninth hole, a dogleg par 5 that juts into the salt march. It is beautiful and treacherous. Last November, Mike and his partner, Chuck Hutchison, purchased the old Signature Golf Group’s liabilities and assets and formed East Coast Golf Management. Today the company directly manages Rivers Edge in North Carolina, plus Azalea Sands, Conway Country Club, Heron Point, indigo Creek and River Oaks Plantation in South Carolina.

In addition to managing those courses, the company also markets Carolina National, Crow Creek, Magnolia Greens and Sandpiper Bay in North Carolina. They also have a marketing contract with Diamondback Golf course in Loris, S.C. Mike is a busy man, but he has had a world of experience with golf course management and is comfortable in his commitments.

“I started playing golf in my junior year in high school in Washington Township, New Jersey,” he said. “I hit some balls, played a few times and loved the game.”

Mike attended college at Flagler University in St. Augustine, Fla., then transferred to Methodist University in Fayetteville. His degree in business administration has a concentration in professional golf management. From college he went to Wild Wing Plantation in Myrtle Beach, S.C., (starting as an intern in 1994), and in 2000 he was made first assistant professional and merchandise manager. Wild Wing was a huge complex off Route 501, with 72 holes and golfers playing 175,000 rounds a year. Talk about busy. I remember playing at Wild Wing several times before we built our home in Brunswick County. The courses were fabulous with wonderful greens and lots of golfers. The rangers were helpful and would happily escort you back to the clubhouse parking lot if you held up play.

After Wild Wing, Mike went to The Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Colo., (a five-star, five-diamond resort), to be first assistant professional and merchandise manager. From there, he came back here to be the director of golf at Grand Dunes Resort in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“I was at Grand Dunes when they were building the Resort Club and the Members Club. It’s a big resort with hotel, marina, tennis and ocean clubs,” he said. “I also had oversight of the redesign of Pine Lakes Country Club.”

While at Grand Dunes, Mike won the PGA of America National Merchandiser of the Year Award. In 2009, the National Golf Course Owners’ Association named Grand Dunes the National Golf Course of the Year.

Mike is a hard-working professional who is a credit to Rivers Edge and to our golf community.

The new consortium he has formed in East Coast Golf Management is sure to be successful. His partner, Chuck, is a graduate of Coastal Carolina and was previously general manager and head professional at Deer Track in Surfside Beach, S.C., assistant at Burning Ridge Golf Club and head professional with The Links Group in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He assisted in the development of the Crown Park Golf Club in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

I see the partnering of golf courses as a good thing. If a consortium of courses is formed under one management company, its purchasing power and marketing power grows and helps everyone in golf. East Coast Golf Management manages golf courses, helps them with merchandising and marketing. They do event planning and perform assessments of management practices. They help coordinate food services at member clubs. They evaluate and analyze financial reporting systems and prepare annual budgets and revenue projections, among other things.

We think of it as a game, but golf is a business, a business that can only grow with the expertise of guys like Mike Buccerone. One of the operations of East Coast Golf Management is their platinum member card.

“This is a great value for both the golfer and the golf course,” said Mike. “We have over 3,200 members now. They join for a small annual fee and get discounts at all the courses we represent.“When a course has low bookings for a certain day, we put it out on our email list and offer a promotion or a reduced rate. Bingo, the course fills up and everyone is happy. The golf course is suddenly filled with golfers, and the golfers are playing for lower green fees. “We offer points and rewards to our members. This year’s card is pink and white and we give a percentage to breast cancer. We want to be user-friendly to women. There’s a whole untapped resource in our female golfers and those who are just starting to play. We want to grow the game for them.”

As busy as he is, Mike still takes time off for something besides golf. Most pros I know do not head out to the course with their clubs when they have a few hours away from their jobs. Some tinker with old cars, others collect antiques, some go fishing…Mike has a boat and although he does not enjoy fishing, he likes to go out and cruise the Intracoastal Waterway for his R&R.“There’s nothing like going out on my boat for a nice ride. It’s the best place to relax.”

Sounds like a plan, Mike. Good luck with Rivers Edge and East Coast Golf Management.