Meet Golfer Mark Bryan

By:Bob Gillespie

Date:9/8/2014

South Carolina's Hootie & the Blowfish guitarist Mark Bryan
Hootie & the Blowfish guitarist Mark Bryan

Music fans are accustomed to seeing University​ of South Carolina alum Mark Bryan perform as lead guitarist of Hootie​ & the Blowfish, as well as playing solo and producing albums with other artists. But travel to Awenda​w, 12 miles northeast of Mount Pleasant, and you might spot the curly-haired 44-year-old playing Bulls ​Ba​y Club, where he and band-mates Darius Rucker and Dean Felber are members.

“I started playing when I was a teenager but didn’t take it seriously until I was 28,” Bryan says. USC director of golf Puggy Blackmon “taught me how to make an athletic turn; I guess I had the ability from playing (high school) baseball, but he taught me that and I started hitting 300-yard drives.” Once a 10-handicap, Bryan is “hanging out at 12; I wish I could be better, but I don’t play as much as I’d like.”

Something to do with a busy musical career – “playing guitar’s fun, too” – and enjoying his three children (13, 11 and 7), he said. “They’re all playing drums, piano, singing, even writing songs,” Bryan said. “Life is fun with them.”

Hometown: Silver Spring, Md. Lives in Mount Pleasant.

Bio: Formed the band Hootie & the Blowfish with Rucker, Felber and Jim “Soni” Sonefeld in 1986 while a student at USC. The band’s first album in 1994, “Cracked Rear View,” launched them to iconic status. Bryan has released two solo albums and formed The Chucktown Music Group to release material he writes and/or performs.

Highlights: Bryan and the band support education and junior golf in South Carolina through their annual Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After The Ma​sters ​Pro-​Am.

Where to play: “I’ve got to say Bulls B​ay, right? (laugh) In Myrtle B​each, The Dunes (Be​ach and Golf Club) is one of my favorites. Something about the Robert Trent Jones design reminds me of Donald Ross at some level. It’s got a classic Carolinas fell, and being around the ocean makes me love it a lot.

“I was impressed with the TPC of Myr​tle​ Beach – a Lanny Wadkins/Tom Fazio design – I thought it was a really special course. And when we did the (Golf Channel’s) Road Trip: Myrtle Beach show, I fell in love with Caledonia​ (Golf & Fish Club). That might be my favorite course other than Bulls Bay, which is in my heart – and (the late architect Mike) Strantz did both.

“Sage Valley in​ Aiken: unbelievable design, the caddies. And it’s tough to beat (Kiawah​ Isla​nd’s) Ocean Coursefor the overall experience. When you’re done there, it’s time for a pint; you’ve had a full day of golf every single time. I only do that maybe once a year, but I love it.”

Where to eat: “When I’m in Colu​mbia, I love to go to Rush’​s. I can always go for a burger basket. (In Awendaw) I love Se​eWee Restaurant; it’s a meat-and-three, old-school country cooking, and the veggies might be better than the entrees. (In Charleston) there’s Jes​tine’s Kitchen downtown; my favorite is Char​leston Grill, where they set up five courses with options, appetizer-to-dessert in a certain style, and we’ll mix and match. That’s a good experience every time.”

Where to play: “I’m a water guy. I have a (20-foot) boat, and I’ll do some fishing, but mostly I like to take my kids out to the Sea Islands. That’s a neat thing, no bridges; the bone yards where the forest meets the beach. It’s otherworldly. Golf is my main recreation thing, I play a lot. I like to go to College of Charleston basketball games and the Riv​​erdogs’ (Charleston minor-league) baseba​ll games. I grew up an athlete, so I love doing that stuff.”

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