The Gift of Golf
PGA Master Instructor, Head Golf Professional and Lead Instructor for golf programs at The Charleston Municipal Golf Course.
Hometown: Mount Pleasant
Education: Bachelor's degree in hospitality, restaurant and tourism management from the University of South Carolina
Family: Wife, Amy, and daughter Karson, who is studying nursing at the University of South Carolina
Hobbies: Spending time at Folly Beach
City’s PGA Pro grows youth programs, camps
By Holly Fisher
Photos by Hayden Finch with LPZ Photography.
In the 1960s, Allen Powers was South Carolina’s first All-American collegiate golfer. In 1968, he finished fifth at the NCAA Championship and was a six-time Carolinas Golf Association champion. His golf accomplishments were many, including being inducted into the S.C. Golf Hall of Fame in 1996 and the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001.
It’s not much of a surprise then that Allen Powers’ son, Boykin Powers, would have a career in golf.
“I’ve played golf since before I could remember,” Boykin Powers said. “Golf is in my genes.”
Although his father passed away in 2001, Powers speaks fondly of his dad’s influence and role in shaping his career path.
“My dad made sure I was interested in golf,” said Powers, who grew up in Mount Pleasant playing at local golf courses.
Now as the PGA Head Golf Professional and instructor at the City of Charleston Municipal Golf Course on James Island, Powers is shaping the next generation of golfers.
Playing For Fun
Powers played golf while at Wando High School and was talented enough to play at the college level. Despite his dad knowing everyone in the golf industry and the prospect of golf scholarships, Powers also knew how competitive collegiate golf would be.
“I’m not a competitive person,” Powers said. “When you’re a kid, [golf] is for fun. In high school, it starts to get competitive and, in college, it’s competitive. And that wasn’t why I played.”
Powers largely stepped away from golf for a period, opting to study hospitality at the University of South Carolina. He managed some restaurants but soon realized working until 4 a.m. wasn’t for him. So, when a job at WildeWood Country Club in Columbia opened up, he jumped at it.
Powers was quickly drawn to teaching golfers and studied to become a PGA Pro. “Ever since then, I’ve been teaching golf,” he said of the last 21 years.
Powers has traveled the country teaching golf. He worked for Nike Golf Academy and Ritson-Sole Golf Academy. He took golfers on cruises to Belize and Mexico. He eventually moved back to Charleston, opening GolfTec stores around the country and traveling to PGA events.
Nine years ago, Powers joined the City of Charleston Municipal Golf Course and never looked back. He has grown the city’s junior golf and summer camp program extensively, putting golf clubs in the hands of hundreds of local kids.
In the last few years, the Municipal Golf Course was renovated, golf had a surge of popularity, and Powers expanded the junior programming. The result is one busy city golf course.
After-school sessions sell out immediately. The summer camps were filled up in 10 minutes this year. “That really speaks to the popularity of golf and the golf programs here,” Powers said.
Six years ago, Powers began using the U.S. Kids Golf programming, which is specifically designed to make golf easier for kids to learn and enjoy. Since then, Powers has been named a Top 50 Kids Coach for three years in a row. Now, he’s one of just a few with the Master Kids Coach designation.
In 2021, about 400 kids went through the U.S. Kids Golf programming at the Municipal Golf Course. Powers expects that number to grow this year. Add that to the middle and high school golf leagues and the First Tee of Charleston programs, and Powers expects some 600 students will pass through the golf course in a year.
“We’ve come a long way,” Powers said.
He also hosts a skills challenge in the spring, along with summer and fall golf leagues, and a Junior City Championship.
Powers is continuing to look for other programs to develop golfers—both new and seasoned—in the Charleston area. He launched a PGA program, Get Golf Ready, designed to get people comfortable on a golf course, teaching them the rules and the basic swings.
“I get emails every day with people asking about new classes. They fill up immediately,” Powers said.
The Rise of Golf
The fast-filling summer camps and classes are a clear indication golf is experiencing a surge of interest.
“Golf, like any sport, has its ups and downs,” Powers said. “The 1990s and early 2000s was the Tiger Woods era, and golf was huge. Then, in the recession, it fizzled.”
For a decade, golf courses struggled. Many were sold or closed, Powers said. All the golf people wondered, “What are we going to do?”
In 2018, golf was climbing out of its decade-long rough patch. When COVID hit in early 2020, golf was an outdoor, socially-distanced activity. Suddenly, golf was all the rage.
“After COVID, people started coming out,” Powers said. “Every golf pro I talked to said people are calling for lessons and tee times.”
The sport’s popularity is trickling down to the youth who fill Powers’ summer camps and after-school programs. Boys and girls alike are learning not only golf skills but the life lessons that come from playing a sport. And, in golf, a big lesson is personal accountability.
“Golf has always been more of a gentleman’s sport. If you do something wrong, you are your own referee,” Powers said. “Instead of writing a 4 on the scorecard, you write a 5. You hit the ball into the water, you don’t pull out another ball (and not take the penalty). You’re not being watched 100 percent of the time. You learn a morality lesson that goes into other parts of your life. You find a wallet at the grocery store, do you keep it or turn it in and try to find the owner?”
“You’re your own referee in golf and in life,” he added. “There are a lot of times when you’re making decisions when no one else is around.”
Golf lessons both practical and personal are what Powers hopes to instill in his young students – much in the way others taught him.
“I was one of those kids who went to golf summer camp,” he said. “I remember all the golf coaches and golf pros. I remember what some of those guys meant to me. They were role models.”
It’s safe to say Allen Powers would be proud.