FJGA honors Randy Glover
The Florence Junior Golf Association honored Randy Glover on June 24, the eve of the start of the 2015 Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational Golf Tournament at the Florence Country Club. Glover was the 1960 champion of the Grant Bennett tournament which started at the Florence Country Club in 1952. In Glover’s honor, Ben Zeigler representing the Florence Junior Golf Association, presented a check for $35,000 to the Pee Dee Chapter of the South Carolina Junior Golf Association. To date the Florence group has raised $100,000 for the junior golf program, Zeigler commented.
Glover was the third Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational winner to be recognized. Four-time winner Buddy Baker of Florence, who won in 1955, 1956, 1957 and 1958, was honored in 2013. Last year, the group honored Jack Lewis Jr. who won the tournament in 1964 and 1965.
Randy Glover grew up in Cheraw where his father was a golf professional. He attended the University of Tennessee prior to joining the PGA Tour in 1962. He ranked among the circuit’s top 60 money winners from 1965 to 1968 and was a two-time tour winner: The Utah Open and the Azalea Open, both in 1967. He finished 19th on the money list in 1964 even after a shortened season when he served in the U.S. Army, and was named Most Improved Player for the year by Golf Digest.
Noted for his velvet touch on the greens, Glover once shared the PGA Tour record for fewest putts in one round –19 in the fourth round of the 1965 St. Paul (Minn.) Open. After injuries forced him off the tour, Glover became the dominant player among South Carolina professionals.
Glover won the Carolinas Open twice, the S.C. PGA Chapter Championship five times and the Carolina PGA Pro-Pro Championship four times. The South Carolina Open almost came known as the “Randy Glover Benefit” when he won the title for five straight years from 1969 through 1973, After his youngest brother Russell broke his streak in 1974, Randy came back to win the title three more times (1977, 1980 and 1981). Glover, who served as head pro at clubs in Charleston, Summerville, Johnsonville and Clinton, all in South Carolina, was named CPGA Player of the Year in 1978 and 1981.
He was inducted into the S.C. Golf Hall of Fame in 1978, the S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame in 1982, the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Carolinas PGA Hall of Fame in 1993. The Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational, originally the Florence Junior, is the longest running junior boys championship in South Carolina with 2015 being the 63rd year.
The first Florence Junior Invitational was played at the Florence Country Club in 1952, one year after the legendary Grant Bennett arrived at the Florence Country Club as head professional. 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’, according to 2012 SC Golf Hall of Fame inductee Bert Atkinson. From 1956 to 1970, Bennett’s high school golf team that he coached won an unprecedented 11 S.C. High School Championships, while losing only one match on the way.
From 1956-1958, 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.
Bennett’s efforts and successes earned the blessings of USGA and in 1963, the Florence Country Club hosted the USGA Junior Am (in 1955 FCC hosted the first USFA Championship conducted in South Carolina – the USGA Junior Girls Championship). In 1964, Bennett headed for Columbia and while junior golf was still at the forefront, it simply wasn’t the same without the leadership and efforts of one Mr. Grant Bennett.