National Golf Course Owners Association Will Honor Darius Rucker

December 11, 2015

Charleston, SC - World-renowned musician Darius Rucker will be honored as the recipient of the 2016 NGCOA Award of Merit during the Association's Golf Business Conference in San Diego, Calif. The Award of Merit is the NGCOA's longest-running award and is designated for long-term and significant contributions to the game of golf. Rucker will be honored during the Celebration Dinner and Awards Gala at the Omni Hotel San Diego on February 10.

"Darius has had an incredible impact on growing the game of golf through charitable donations, awareness and junior tournaments," said Jay Karen, NGCOA CEO. "He is an internationally recognized entertainer who also happens to be an ambassador for golf. It is with great pride and gratitude that we will honor Darius as our Award of Merit recipient."

Many people have used golf to make a living, but Rucker uses golf to make a difference. The country music superstar and founding member of Hootie & the Blowfish has, through the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation and with the help of his fellow bandmates, donated more than $1.8 million since 2000 to hundreds of charities worldwide. Their support ranges from building community learning centers to outfitting school marching bands to simply providing educators with the tools they need to nurture children's talents and help them succeed. The majority of funding comes from the annual fundraising event, Hootie & the Blowfish's Monday After the Masters golf tournament, a celebrity pro-am golf tournament affectionately referred to as "MAM" that attracts celebrities, pro golfers and friends to Myrtle Beach each April for a long weekend of fun and philanthropy.

In addition to the Hootie Foundation, MAM also benefits the South Carolina Junior Golf Association, an organization dedicated to enlightening the state's youth about the honor, sportsmanship and character of the game of golf, and therefore preparing them to better face future challenges in their lives. Thanks to MAM, the SC Junior Golf Association is one of the top-rated programs in the country.

Given Rucker's recent success in country music and his well-documented love of golf, the PGA Tour approached him in late 2010 to gauge his interest in penning a song that captured the spirit of the Tour's "Together, Anything's Possible" initiative, which funds a variety of charities nationwide. Rucker agreed, and then offered to waive his writing and royalty fees, promising that 100 percent of the proceeds from downloads of the song would go to PGA Tour Charities. The song-appropriately named "Together, Anything Is Possible"-generated $63,886.22 from iTunes downloads in 2011. Rucker, who serves on The First Tee of Charleston's board of advisors and is a frequent participant in PGA Tour pro-am events, also attended and performed the song at select PGA Tour tournaments throughout 2011 to promote the song's charity message and fundraising platform.

The association also will recognize winners of the Jemsek Award for Golf Course Excellence; the Don Rossi Award for significant and long-lasting contributions to the NGCOA; the Champion Award for service to course owners at the state level; the Player Development Award for success in attracting new players to the game; and the Paul Porter Award for commitment, service and leadership to a chapter or international affiliate. The winner of the National Course of the Year Award will also be announced during the awards ceremony.

The Golf Business Conference, hosted by the NGCOA, is the golf industry's largest gathering of owners and operators of daily fee, private, resort and municipal courses. The conference, which will be held Feb. 8-11, offers educational and networking opportunities and guest speakers. You may register for the conference at

The conference occurs in conjunction with the Golf Industry Show, Feb. 10-11, at the San Diego Convention Center. The show, which is presented by the NGCOA and GCSAA, showcases the golf industry's latest products and services throughout an expansive exhibit area and offers a wide range of educational opportunities.