Since 1978 the Dunning family has been vacationing and golfing in the Carolinas. They come for the beach, the family time, and especially the golf.
Les Dunning, the patriarch of the group, taught his son how to golf, then his grandsons, and soon one of his great grandchildren is sure to hit the greens. Les, at age 87, still participates in the friendly family competition every year. A dear family friend, Bishop Roger Gries, OSB, of Cleveland, Ohio has been along for 39 of those 40 years and says he has accompanied Les on most of those 30,000 holes, and each one was a new challenge. “They don’t call him Lucky Mr. Dunning for nothing,” says Gries “He has hit through more woods and out of more rough than is humanly possible and yet he still finds the green!”
In 1985, the group braved Hurricane Bob by remaining in their beachfront rental through the storm. Despite that harrowing experience, the following year they expanded their annual trip from one week to two. This ensured enough sunny days for the beach lovers in the group and doubled the rounds of golf possible!
The golf group has participated in many family tournaments over the years, winning their fair share and always having a fun day. Les’ favorite memory of tournaments was when he and his then 15-year-old grandson, Jared, beat his son, John, and the Bishop despite overwhelming odds!
“Though we obviously love golf, the Grand Strand has been a great vacation spot for the whole extended family due to the beautiful beaches, gorgeous weather, and the many restaurants and activities,” says Les.
Since vacation is the one time of the year the family knows they will all be together, they have planned major events around it. Occasions celebrated while on holiday include significant multi-decade birthdays (like his daughter’s 30th), six First Communions, and even one marriage proposal on the beach!
There are always a few 1,000-piece puzzles in process indoors, while outdoors the family ramps up the “friendly competition” through countless beach baseball games, and corn hole and horseshoe tournaments. One year the family decorated their golf cart and entered the Ocean Isle Beach Fourth of July parade.
In the beginning the Dunning family rented a four-bedroom house in Myrtle Beach. As the family grew to add spouses and grandkids they moved to successively larger homes in North Myrtle Beach, eventually landing in a seven-bedroom beach home in family-friendly Ocean Isle Beach.
As the grandkids aged and went their own way (and sadly, some members passed on) the core vacation company shrank back down to a four-bedroom. To celebrate their 40th year on the Strand in 2017, everyone in this four-generation family – kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and all significant others – will join the celebration. To accommodate the maximum crowd expected over the Fourth of July weekend, the family has rented two entire large houses this year!
Over the forty years they migrated north from Cherry Grove to Ocean Isle Beach, the Dunning family has weathered two hurricanes — Bob in 1985 and Bertha in 1996 (for which they did evacuate!) – built over 150 sand castles, and played 30,000 holes of golf.
Most importantly, says Les, he’s been joined on vacation by 47 different friends and family members, and this year he will welcome his newest great grandson as number 48!