Golf legend Nicklaus attends Mount Pleasant grand opening of expanding realty lead by his son

Jack Nicklaus with wife, Barbara, makes a point while talking to guests at the Golden Bear Realty shindig Oct. 29 in Mount Pleasant. Nicklaus’ nickname during his illustrious golfing career was “The Golden Bear.“

Of all the places Golden Bear Realty could have chosen for its first move out of Florida, the company picked the Charleston area and, more specifically, Mount Pleasant.

Rather than random, the decision late last year looks prescient in retrospect for the North Palm Beach, Fla.-based real estate venture.

“We’ve been really happy with this (move),” says Michael Nicklaus, company president, chatting with folks at a barbecue and oyster roast Oct. 29 at the Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park attended by several dozen guests, including a few town dignitaries. The event at the park’s Cooper River room marked the company’s official grand opening in the Charleston area.

If the leader’s name rings a bell, it’s because Michael Nicklaus is a son of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, known as “The Golden Bear” in his playing days for his wavy blond hair and a bear-like determination on the course.

Golden Bear Realty, a Nicklaus-family owned company, is a “boutique style” agency with offices throughout Palm Beach County, Fla., north of Miami. The company picked Mount Pleasant for its main office, at 654 Coleman Blvd., for a number of reasons.

“Why we chose Mount Pleasant: It’s a good place to get everywhere,” Michael Nicklaus says. “It’s fairly central. We think it’s awesome.”

While the firm’s nickname may stem from Jack’s determination, the drive to branch into the Charleston area was all Michael’s, according to a reliable source — his dad. “He picked Charleston,” Jack says, noting it’s been a good decision.

Jack Nicklaus, who designed Turtle Point Golf Course at Kiawah Island, is familiar with the Charleston area. Before the Thursday grand opening, he traveled to Kiawah to check out the course for a long-overdue revamp.

Nicklaus also has business partners in the Charleston area, including with Desano’s Pizza. The family has taken an interest in backing MUSC and its children’s wellness programs, Jack says.

Barbara Rivers, director of development for the MUSC Children’s Hospital Fund, met Michael Nicklaus two years ago. The Nicklaus family and Golden Bear have been active in backing the Children’s Hospital, which is part of “our community,” Michael says.

At a fundraiser at Bulls Bay golf club in Awendaw, the organizers auctioned off 70 putters, replicas of Jack Nicklaus’ blade when he won the 1986 Masters.

Even while meeting with Golden Bear Realty managers locally and preparing for the grand opening, Michael found time to visit sick children at the MUSC Children’s Center, Rivers says.

Golden Bear Realty recently announced it would partner with the Medical University of South Carolina “to help support their efforts to build the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.”

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Golden Bear Realty says it “will soon be donating a portion of every transaction back to MUSC.”

MUSC dignitaries present at the Thursday night event included MUSC Chairman Emeritus Dr. Charles Darby, associate professor of pediatrics Dr. John B. Cahill and Rivers.

The soiree followed a private reception and ribbon cutting at Golden Bear Realty’s office at 654 Coleman Blvd., Suite 100 in Mount Pleasant.

The new Mount Pleasant office, the first in South Carolina, officially opened its doors in September 2014.

Special guests at this October’s event included Jack and his wife, Barbara Nicklaus; and Mount Pleasant Mayor Linda Page.

“My family loves Charleston and the feel of the Lowcountry,” Michael said in prepared remarks. “We are so proud to expand our luxury real estate business in one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

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Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.