The Gene’s Dream Foundation in November 2018 presented a check for $50,000 to the First Tee of Coastal Carolinas.
The money was raised via the Foundation’s debut fundraising initiative, the Mentor Cup, a two-day event that included a gala dinner at the Surf Club, a tournament at Tidewater Golf Club, and an unforgettable stand-up performance by the legendary David Feherty.
“That $50,000 is a real game-changer for the First Tee of Coastal Carolinas,” said Rich Abraham, the executive director of the First Tee of Coastal Carolinas. “We operate very lean, and this will help us expand our programs for kids along the Grand Strand and in Brunswick County. Beyond the financial impact, events like the Mentor Cup are great for our kids, giving them a taste of competition and the opportunity to be mentored by community leaders.”
The Gene’s Dream Foundation was founded by golf media star Kelly Tilghman in honor of Gene Weldon, a revered PGA professional who worked in the Myrtle Beach market for nearly 50 years before passing away in 2017. Weldon mentored countless kids during his career (including Tilghman in her youth), and through the Gene’s Dream Foundation Tilghman created the Mentor Cup as an initial vehicle by which to carry forth her mentor’s vision: to establish a sustainable junior golf program based on youth development, golf and a culture of mentoring through positive experiences. The First Tee of Coastal Carolinas is the initial beneficiary of these efforts.
“It’s an honor and a privilege for our entire team to be able to see Gene’s wishes through,” said Tilghman. “It’s such a bonus to be able to deliver this kind of return in our first go-round, thanks in large part to the passionate support from our community. The inaugural Mentor Cup weekend exceeded everyone’s expectations. We look forward to continuing this mission.”
The Mentor Cup featured a unique format as 60 kids were paired with 60 adults and each nine featured a different format of play. The front nine was captain’s choice while players played modified alternate shot on the back at Tidewater, one of the Grand Strand’s most scenic courses.
Building on the success of the inaugural event, the Mentor Cup has been selected to serve as a qualifier for the Liberty Mutual Insurance Invitational, the No. 1 charity event in golf. The winner of the 2019 Mentor Cup will be invited to play in the Liberty Mutual Insurance Invitational National Finals at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island.