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George Hilliard has served for the past 26 years as the executive director for the Myrtle Beach Golf Course Owners Association, and for the first time in the association’s history it will be headed up by someone else. Hilliard retired recently and his successor will be Tracy Conner.

Hilliard began his work with the owners association in 1988 with the progression of the less formal Grand Strand Executive Golf Association that was formed in 1978 with volunteer administrative positions.

Hilliard stated that it has been a great ride and that he has enjoyed working with great people who are willing to give. The association has accomplished a lot of things over the years.

Tracy Conner was a past general manager of Bay Tree Plantation and he has been serving as the general manager of the Grand Strand Tee Time Network since 2007. He succeeded Hilliard on April 1st and Hilliard will serve as a consultant until the end of the year.

Hilliard led the development and implementation of policies, programs and projects that have helped the MBAGCOA prosper and progress.

The association developed the Grand Strand Tee Time Network in 1990 to link the reservation systems of area courses and it went operational in the spring of 1992 with 35 courses and 15 hotels. It now includes almost all of the Strand’s 90-plus public courses. The network is a very important tool, not only for the golf courses, but also the many package providers on the Grand Strand.

The Myrtle Beach Golf Passport program was initiated in 1993. It offers discounted golf rounds on area golf courses. The cost of being a member of the Passport program is approximately $40 per year and has more than 14,000 members in 2014.

Other accomplishments Hilliard achieved for the MBAGCOA was the offering of a health insurance program for area courses, the relieving of some property taxes for courses, and the successful lobbying for a new IRS policy that allows courses to depreciate greens, tees and bunkers, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars for courses across the U.S.

Hilliard also helped bring the American Junior Golf Association’s Ping Myrtle Beach Junior Classic to the area and he served as tournament chairman for 10 years from 1989-1998.

After 26 years of serving his country, Hilliard retired as a colonel at Shaw Air Force Base and was searching for a management position when he learned of the position with MBAGCOA.

Hilliard earned many commendations while in the Air Force and his honors continued post military. He won the Champions Award in 2005 from the National Golf Course Owners Association. The award recognizes individuals or entities that have worked on behalf of a group of owners and garnered significant victories for them.

Hilliard was also named 2012 Father of the Year by organizers of the National Father & Son Team Classic on the Grand Strand.

Hilliard plans to stay active by serving as a leader in community and church affairs. The Myrtle Beach golf community will miss his leadership, but wish him well.

Good luck to Tracy Conner in his new role as director. I am sure he will be successful in filling the shoes of Mr. Hilliard.