Along the golf trail I have come in contact with thousands of individuals. A fairly large number of them are good people. As in all walks of life, some are not so good.
And then, there are the ones at the top of the list who are great people.
Frank Monk was one of the great people.
Fortunate to spend most of his adult life with the sunlight of Myrtle Beach’s sandy shores shining upon him, Monk returned the favor by bringing a bit of sunshine into the lives of all he encountered.
There are tales of him as a fun-loving lifeguard in North Myrtle Beach and a young golfer who enjoyed competing on the many fairways of the Grand Strand area.
I first encountered him as an enterprising golf professional who was dedicated to the promotion of the game.
He had no choice. As fate fortunately would have it, he was teamed with the greatest promoter of golf Myrtle Beach had ever seen – the renowned Jimmy D’Angelo.
Both were hired by David Singleton in 1995 to promote the new and heralded golf course that had been designed by architect Rees Jones – Belle Terre GC.
Already one of the renowned golf course architects in the world, one might think that the latest creation by Jones would not need a lot of promotion. After all, during the golf boom of the 1990s, there were many who subscribed to the “build it and they will come philosophy.” But that was not in the DNA of Jimmy D’Angelo, nor his young protégé Frank Monk.
D’Angelo, a Philadelphia native, had earned the title of “The Godfather of Myrtle Beach” for his efforts in building the membership and promoting the famed Dunes Golf and Beach Club. It was the second golf course built in Myrtle Beach and opened in 1948 – a time when Myrtle Beach was a little-known summer community. He promoted the club and the town into worldwide recognition, using many marketing techniques.
His most ingenious was the formation of the Golf Writers Association of America Championship, which brought golf scribes from around the country to Myrtle Beach for more than 50 years. They wound up writing thousands of stories about the budding seaside golf paradise … and the golfers of the world followed.
In 1995, D’Angelo’s talents were called upon again … even though the bantam-sized golf pro was nearing 90 years old. And that’s why they teamed him with the young pro, who had been hired as Director of Golf at Belle Terre. Monk’s positive outlook and promotional skills were a mirror image of D’Angelo – a compliment that is overwhelming in its stature.
Together, they devised a one-day event at Belle Terre, that preceded the GWAA Championship at the Dunes Club each spring. It began in 1995 and continued until after D’Angelo’s death in 2000. The final year was 2004, shortly before Belle Terre closed – a casualty to highway expansion along Route 501 in Myrtle Beach.
Again the golf writers found the combination of southern hospitality and a great golf course to be irresistible. Monk reveled in his duties.
In later years, he assumed a number of roles in the Myrtle Beach golf landscape. One of the more memorable was his work with the World Amateur Handicap Championship. He served as a rules official and spent many post-round hours in the golf “courtroom” where he patiently heard the trials and tribulations of golfers accused of on-course infractions. He ruled fairly and accurately … and sometimes hilariously. I can attest to the fact that some of the mini-trials were a high form of comedy.
But none of his roles in Myrtle Beach was more memorable than that day when they laid my friend, mentor and inspiration, Jimmy D’Angelo, to rest.
For a number of years, Monk had sung in the choir at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church – the home parish of D’Angelo. On this sunny spring day, Monk stood in the choir loft, above the church pews filled with mourners, and sang in tribute to his longtime friend.
An accomplished singer, I doubt there ever was a day when his voice was stronger or filled with more quality. He brought a measure of peace to all who had assembled. It was the quintessential Frank Monk – doing good for others.
After Belle Terre, Monk went on to work at River Oaks Golf Club and Bald Head Island Club, and taught at the Myrtle Beach campus of the Golf Academy of America.
His recent years were filled with health issues. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2019. After a battle with cancer, he died on Christmas Day at the age of 62.
He left this earth way too soon. But, without a doubt, he left it a better place. Golf writers, and golfers, across America can attest to that fact.
— Tony Leodora