Golf Ambassador Kirk’s Journey A Product Of Life And The Game

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | More than 12 years have passed since Meredith Kirk was laying on a hospital bed, begging God to keep her alive.

She can still describe it in detail as if it had just happened.

The Myrtle Beach golf ambassador and instructor is one of the most public faces the local industry has to its credit. She has been the centerpiece for very public campaigns to help the golf scene here, and she’s instructed countless adults and youngsters along the way at various courses and teaching programs.

But what she has done in the decade plus since asking for and receiving a second chance has created something different of the oft-typecast mother of three.

“I do feel there is a lot that I can talk about,” Kirk said. “I do feel my voice matters and that my observations in the golf industry over the last 34 years, they could help.”

Indeed, Meredith Kirk has something to say.

Not simply because of her professed faith, documented heavily in two of her first three books. Not only because she has those 34 years of golf experience, a large chunk of the last 25 from inside the ropes. And not just because of her inviting personality that seems to always leave those around her smiling.

Professionally and personally, Kirk has earned the right to talk.

You should listen.

NEAR-DEATH AND A NEW RISE
The birth of Kirk’s third son, Jordan, led to a months-long string of events that ultimately defines so much of her life.

During the delivery – on March 20, 2007 – the epidural was injected improperly.

“I heard the sound of a train. It was a screeching sound. My heart stopped and I fell over,” she said. “I saw everything and I heard everything. I couldn’t move my eye balls. I could process it. I saw my husband standing there and his face was completely white. The nurses were running around. I couldn’t move. I was just observing everything.”

She was brought back to and informed she’d have only moments to deliver Jordan naturally in order to avoid an emergency cesarean section that would have threatened her life further. A few minutes later, Jordan was born perfectly healthy.

Meredith Kirk was eventually deemed healthy, only to have another run-in with health issues a few months later. Pain in her chest and spiking blood pressure required her to be rushed to the hospital, where it was determined she was undergoing a thyroid storm – a product of too much of the hormone. She was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease, leading doctors to remove her thyroid and place her on life-long medication.

During the weeks that followed, she lost significant weight and much of her hair, changing some of her opinions on appearance and beauty that would take hold soon after. But the ordeals also started a reaffirmation of her own connection to her faith.

One of Kirk’s undergraduate degrees and her Master’s Degree came in biblical counseling and Christian studies, respectively. Learning how to counsel herself started anew with a journal project that would eventually become her first book “Thy Club and Thy Staff” – a series of devotionals tied to her life in golf.

“We’ve all been through struggles. Sometimes we just don’t admit it,” said Christa Bodensteiner, a Regional Operations Manager at Founders Group International (FGI) and one of Kirk’s long-time friends. “That’s one of the things I admire most about Meredith. She’s not afraid to put it out there. She has all the great things going for her. But she’ll be real with you.”

Bodensteiner’s initial experiences with Kirk started when the latter was just 18 years old and driving a beverage cart at Litchfield County Club. That was only the beginning of Kirk’s long ride in Myrtle Beach golf.

By the time she was 19, she was an assistant pro at one course and leading youth instruction with one of the larger programs in the area. She bounced around some while raising her children and pursuing three college degrees.

However, she was always either working for a Grand Strand golf entity or only months from getting back into it. Along the way, she worked at Blackmoor Golf Club, TPC of Myrtle Beach and Indian Wells, among others, as an instructor, garnering plenty of awards along the way from statewide and national publications.

In other words, as Blackmoor General Manager Bob Zuercher put it, she’s an asset to Grand Strand golf.

“She’s very professional. She’s dedicated. It’s what we need in the golf industry without question,” Zuercher said. “It’s great to see people following through on their ambitions and career. How many times do we hear about someone starting a second or third career? She’s an exception.”

Kirk admits that her station both locally and across the country have lifted her platform. Now 41 years old, she’s fine-tuned how to use it.

SPREADING THE MESSAGES
Kirk has become adept at how to communicate in multiple fashions.

She can go from interviewer to interviewee at a snap of the fingers. She’ll answer questions about her devotionals or promoting Myrtle Beach golf after previously asking a local pro about how he or she has grown their small section of the landscape.

It’s a gift, to be sure, and one that has helped her craft her own stance on combatting a distinct drop in the popularity of the sport.

Kirk proactively lets people know that its okay to scale back on golf, maybe only playing nine holes instead of trying to cram in a full 18. She’s a proponent of trying to walk courses when possible as a yoga-like experience for mind and body. She proposes that more people need turn off or at least mute their cell phones before teeing off so they can better enjoy the time with nature. And Joe Golfer definitely needs to quit comparing himself to the top-flight
talent in the world; that’s a waste of time.

If practicing what she preaches is her M.O., nothing stands out more to those around her than how she has approached two honors so closely tied to her looks.

In late 2013, Kirk was named Mrs. South Carolina, and the following year, she was listed as one of the top-10 most beautiful women in the game by Golf Magazine. She used the two to promote her Junior Golf Exchange, a program to give needy children access to equipment, but also to further develop what is one of her most ardent philosophies on bringing in more
people to the game.

Skimpy clothes, she said, isn’t the right way.

“I’m seeing so many women that I know, some of them are colleagues or acquaintances that I have met who are taking this road of this sexualized action,” Kirk said. “Whether they are putting pictures of bikinis on Instagram or whatever, they are selling themselves out to try to have a voice in the golf industry. They are trying to make a living for themselves. I don’t know their intentions. It’s not for me to judge their intentions. But in my opinion, these women sell themselves out.

“There are ways to navigate without having to fully compromise. I don’t like the direction the golf industry is taking with women, and the women are allowing it. They’re taking this bait from our society. I’m not going to take the bait. If it means I have less of a voice because I don’t take the bait, so be it.”

Kirk has rejected or altered numerous projects, including a popular reality show and a magazine cover shoot, because they required her to show too much skin for her own liking. She wanted to set an example for her sons while keeping true to what got her where she was.

Blonde-haired and fit, fighting off the stigma of a pretty woman holding a golf club has become part of her norm.

“I feel bad for anybody who has that impression,” Bodensteiner warned of judging the proverbial Kirk book by its cover. “You’re missing out on the depths of her and the neatest part of her. I’m sure she gets typecast more than not. It’s so easy. Our society, sex sells. But she is not going to be somebody who is going to compromise that. That takes a special person right there, to stay grounded.”

A WELL-ROUNDED ROUNDER
In was October of 2018, and Meredith Kirk was hanging out of moving golf cart with her left hand on the post and the right holding a mid-sized camera and lens to her eye.

She was photographing Jack Nicklaus during his highly publicized trip to Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club. It’s wasn’t exactly an Evel Knievel move, but Kirk trusted in her driver to not roll her out of the cart just the same.

“I think I got it,” she said, the joy of another great photo beaming all over her lit up face.

It would be impossible to say that Kirk hasn’t taken plenty of chances in her professional career. In addition to her various instructor titles and ambassador roles, she’s chipped in with photography and videography credits with the LPGA Network and Golf Channel, not to mention FGI, and is preparing to play a role in a new golf network that plans to launch in the spring. If it’s golf-related, she’ll give it a whirl. The free-wheeling schedule gives her the ability to “compartmentalize” golf and spend as much time with family as possible.

She recently saw off her oldest son, Benjamin, who was admitted into a special operations program with the United States Navy. She played more golf in 2018 than he had in recent years, many of those rounds with middle son Solomon. And then there’s Jordan, the daily reminder of how lucky Kirk believes she is.

Along with support from her husband, Landon, Kirk said she doesn’t feel pressure to sacrifice her personal life for that of her professional one. That’s not to say she’s going to walk away from her work any time soon.

“She’s always been adamant about doing things the right way,” Zuercher said. “I think she has a lot more to accomplish. I think as she matures and becomes even more experienced, I think she’ll be even better in supporting golf.”

For Kirk, that’s part of her path.

“I’ve been through a lot. For whatever reason, God has allowed me to walk through hard times, too,” she said. “That’s the reason I do things the way I do. All these things make me who I am. That’s part of life’s journey.”

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