FLORENCE, SC — Jack Lewis is one of the biggest names to ever come out of the Florence junior golfing ranks.
Stories of Lewis’ prowess during his junior golfing days as well as collegiate and professional ones will be shared and celebrated tonight at the kickoff for the Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational at Florence Country Club.
“ When we revamped the tournament last year, we wanted to put emphasis on history, tradition and guys that had won it,” Ben Zeigler said. “Jack is the first one we are going to do. He is probably the most decorated junior golfer to come out of here. Everybody remembers the name Jack Lewis when you are talking about golf in Florence.”
Former PGA and Champions Tour golfer Joe Inman will be among those in attendance to pay tribute to Lewis. Inman played with Lewis at Wake Forest and is the golf coach at Georgia State.
Zeigler said he also has a written letter from golf legend Arnold Palmer in Lewis’ honor. Lewis was one of the recipients of the Bobby Worsham scholarship at Wake Forest established by Palmer.
Some of Lewis’ memorabilia will be on display, including a photo of him with Gary Player. Lewis was paired with Player in one of his two Masters appearances as an amateur in 1967-68.
Lewis is a two-time winner of the Grant Bennett Invitational in 1964-65. The Florence native led McClenaghan High School to four state titles and five Southern High School titles.
Lewis also won the Carolinas Junior three straight times from 1963-65.
After high school, Lewis went on to a stellar career at Wake Forest where he was part of three ACC championship teams and was the ACC individual champion in 1968. He also was the first South Carolina native be selected to the Walker Cup team in which he played in 1967.
Lewis played on the PGA Tour from 1970-74 and remained active in the sport after his professional playing days were over. He was head professional at Forsyth Country Club and later at Atlanta Country Club before returning to Wake Forest as coach in 1982.
Lewis was inducted into Wake’s Hall of Fame in 1985 and is also in the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame and Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Florence Hall of Fame in 2008.
These days, Lewis works as an instructor at Rick Murphy Golf Academy in Greensboro, N.C.
“ Jack should be more of an inspiration. He demonstrates that you can come from junior golf and go on to play on the highest levels,” Zeigler said.
Lewis and 1963 Grant Bennett champion Bobby Foster will be among past champions taking part in the Joe Pearce Sponsor Pro-Am this afternoon.
This year’s Bennett Invitational Field includes Caleb Proveaux, Christian Salzer and Cole Patterson, who all qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur last week.
Patterson, a rising senior at Travelers Rest, led last year’s tournament by one shot with four holes left before Trevor Phillips birdied the final four holes to win.
“ This tournament is probably one of my favorites in South Carolina and one of my favorite courses,” Patterson said. “I am very confident in my game right now and look forward to playing this week.”
The Grant Bennett will start of a busy week for Patterson and many players in the field. After playing in Florence, many will play in the Carolinas Juniors PGA Championship in Myrtle Beach on Saturday and Sunday, the Big I tournament in Orangeburg on Monday and Tuesday, and the State Amateur qualifier in Woodruff on Wednesday.