By Len Ziehm

Believe it or not, there are some good things coming out of this horrible pandemic that has negatively impacted the U.S. for the last nine months. It created a bigger demand for golf nation-wide — play is up over 20 percent, according to the National Golf Foundation — and the pandemic resulted in some positive changes to the game as well.

Justin Binke, director of marketing for Founders Group International, has witnessed it first hand, as Myrtle Beach has retained its title as “Golf Capital of the World’’ and FGI has the area’s most established group of courses, loyalty programs and reservation services.

FGI has acquired 21 courses in the area since 2014. They include TPC Myrtle Beach and Grande Dunes, both former honorees as Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association, and Pine Lakes Country Club, where the MB golf boom began. Pine Lakes was the first club to open there, in 1927, and its founder was Robert White, the first president of the PGA of America.

All the good years, though, were threatened by the pandemic.

“Granted these have been unfortunate times,’’ said Binke, “but golf has been an out for people who want to get out of the house, get some exercise and play the game that we all love. They feel safe coming to a golf course, and we’ve seen a rise in local golf.’’

Binke also oversees two of the area’s most popular package companies – MyrtleBeachGolfTrips.com and MBN.com. They’ve been key to keeping golf strong in an area where it’s always been that way.

“We’ve made sure our websites are up to date,’’ said Binke. “We have everything golfers are looking to do. We have specials, lodging and great golf courses all there for people to come to see, and we’ve taken the proper protocols to keep everyone safe. We’ve also tried to be the resource for not only golf packages, but for all things golf in Myrtle Beach.’’ More