Beaufort News

Hank Haney IJGA explores expansion options

Old Carolina Golf Links owner Grant McKinley will meet with the community's property owners tonight to discuss the possibility of an arrangment with the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy, but the CEO of the company that operates the IJGA said the Bluffton course is one of several facilities under consideration if the academy expands its golf operations.

"We've been looking at a number of potential opportunities to improve our facilities over the past four to five years," Junior Golf Corporation CEO Peter Orrell said, adding the IJGA has considered sites in Beaufort and Jasper counties, as well as Florida. "We still have a list of potential sites that we're looking at, and really nothing has been decided."

John Brown, the president of the company that operates Pinecrest Golf Club, said he does not believe the IJGA has any intention of moving its primary base of golf operations. Pinecrest has served as the exclusive training facility for the IJGA since 2008, and Brown said the parties have a long-term contract to continue that arrangement.

Orrell declined to go into details of what kind of expansion the academy seeks. McKinley declined to discuss specifics, but he said he believes the IJGA is "looking to spread out a little bit."

McKinley said he is in "early discussions" with the academy, but before those talks go any further, he wants to hear what the property owners have to say.

"They are my neighbors, and I am their neighbor, and I want to do everything I can to hear their concerns," McKinley said. "I want the property owners to have their say. I want them to have their input and have their concerns heard. ... They have been wonderful to me, and I want to be just as considerate of them."