Fred Meda, dubbed "The Godfather" of golf course maintenance in one of the nation's busiest golf destinations, will receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association this week during the association's 50th Conference and Trade Show in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he made his name over more than 30 years. Meda, 68, led the association as its president in 1981 and was named Superintendent of the Year a decade later.
Bill Anderson, certified golf course superintendent from Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., and a previous winner of the award, says Meda was "The Godfather" through Myrtle Beach's transformation from a beach resort with some nice courses to a golf resort with nice beaches.
"He was the most successful superintendent with the biggest job," Anderson says. "He knew who was doing what and how well they were doing it. He knew everything that was going on. He was a political broker. But everybody liked him."
When Meda (pictured to the right) was recruited to the beach from Raintree Country Club in Charlotte to oversee golf course maintenance at three courses for the Myrtle Beach National Co. in 1977, the area was home to about two dozen courses. By the time he left at the end of 2004, Myrtle Beach National had 10 courses and there were more than 100 along the greater Myrtle Beach coastline known as the Grand Strand. Meda didn't build those courses but he was instrumental in building the reputation for conditioning that made them so popular.
"Fred hadn't been there all that long before the standard of golf course maintenance at the beach went to a whole new level," says Randy Allen, who hosted multiple Senior Tour Championships at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach. "There was a lot more attention to detail so then expectations went up and accountability went up too. He just wanted excellence and he worked hard to get it." Allen, now with Modern Turf, won the Distinguished Service Award in 2006.
One of the many superintendents Meda introduced to the profession over the years was Tim Moraghan, who went on to serve as the USGA's director of championship agronomy for more than two decades. He is now principal of Aspire Golf Consulting.
"Fred kind of invented the way it's done today," Moraghan says. "In his reporting methods, his clear lines of responsibility, the criteria his people were expected to meet, and his management style and the way he ran the operation, he was ahead of his time."
Meda was also influential in establishing the Palmetto Golf Course Superintendents Association, which remains one of the largest local associations in the Carolinas. He spoke regularly at meetings and turf conferences around the country.