By Debra McCormick
Beau Rivage Golf & Resort is a cohesive, family-run endeavor with Jake Walker at the helm as General Manager, assisted by brother Adam Walker as Director of Operations and mother Ellen Walker as Events Director. “What we want our patrons to take away from their time spent at Beau Rivage is that it is all about the experience, and it’s also all about value. That is what is most important to us, and we work hard to make sure it is delivered,” says Jake Walker.
Rooted in Family
The Walker family relocated to Wilmington, NC from Vernon, New Jersey in 2002 when Jake was just fifteen-years-old. Charlie Walker, had retired from firefighting and moved the family to Wilmington to enjoy the beach and warm weather. Charlie was enjoying his retirement and volunteering as a course ranger at Beau Rivage when he heard the resort was going up for sale. He always dreamed of owning a driving range and he saw a lot of untapped potential in the golf course. Even though they had never owned or managed a golf course, hotel, restaurant or event venue, Charlie and Ellen made the ultimate decision to invest in Beau Rivage Golf & Resort in 2006 and haven’t looked back since.
Jake and his brother were well groomed for their management roles having worked in almost every role at the resort growing up, from upkeep of the golf course to cooking and bartending at the Tiki Bar & Grill. “We’ve done everything,” says Walker upon reflection. Jake Walker’s friendly, extroverted personality serves him well in his management position, working diligently to meet the needs of his clientele as well as manage all marketing aspects of the resort.
Managing Beau Rivage Golf is truly a family affair. Brother Adam works behind the scenes in accounting and human resources. Their sister Audra currently assists the kitchen manager by cooking on Sundays for brunch service while attending school. Their father Charlie remains active at Beau Rivage by working outdoors on renovation projects or greens maintenance. “He just got a new Bobcat utility vehicle and loves moving the earth and working with his hands,” says Walker. Their mother Ellen has been a natural fit as Director of Events. She loves working with the public, and her warm personality makes her the perfect wedding event coordinator. For a brief time, she stepped out of her role, and she realized how much she missed it. Reflecting on her duties, she says, “I love watching each wedding event come to fruition. I am there from start to finish, and I attend all of them.”
There are some formal dedications at Beau Rivage Golf that evoke a clear sense of family unity. This past July, the Walker children secretly made a bench to dedicate to their parents. It is located on the driving range tee, and a plaque on the bench reads, “Dedicated to our parents Charlie and Ellen Walker who always worked hard to give us a better life. Jake, Audra, Adam, Matt.“
Jake Walker’s fondest family memory involves his grandpa Charlie Walker, Sr., the man responsible for steering the whole family into golf. Eleven years ago, the Walker family honored him by extending the bulkhead of the number four signature hole and unveiling a senior tee box dedicated in his name, the “Charlie Walker, Sr. Tee.” At the ribbon cutting, his grandfather hit the first tee shot. It is a memory Jake Walker still loves to reminisce about: “I’ve never seen a person jump as high in the air as he did when that putt dropped. That was without a doubt the best moment I’ve spent at Beau Rivage over the last twelve years and my favorite memory of my grandfather.”
Dedication to the community is also a top priority of the Walker family. Every New Year’s Eve, Beau Rivage hosts a gala charity to benefit the NHRMC Foundation. All proceeds are donated to benefit New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Hospital, where Jake Walker rehabilitated after a life-threatening car accident in December 2012. His injuries were devastating and put him in a coma for eight days with a broken vertebrae in his back and neck, nerve damage in his arm, and a large portion of his skull removed. The dedicated staff at the rehabilitation hospital nursed him back to life.
Last year, Beau Rivage Golf & Resort raised nearly $4,000, and since its inception in 2015, they have raised a total of $10,000 dollars to benefit the foundation. It is Walker’s way of expressing gratitude to the staff at NHRMC for all their tireless, life-saving work. Proceeds help fund improvements to speech, occupational, and physical therapy. ”We also do this to help the patients that are currently going through the same experience and show them that there is always hope in recovery,” says Walker.
More than a Golfing Range
Beau Rivage offers an array of choices for wedding receptions, including a flat, outdoor lawn area and a Live Oak wedding tree. Patrons can opt for golf packages for groom and groomsmen, overnight accommodations for guests, a ballroom for sit-down receptions, in-house gourmet catering, and rehearsal dinner options at the full-service restaurant, the Veranda Bar & Grill. The resort has recently undergone renovations to the the driving range; elevation has been built into the course which adds intrigue to the challenge; eighty new golf carts with state-of-the-art GPS have been added and the driving range tee has been expanded from 8,000-18,000 square feet. Room accommodations for wedding guests have been renovated to include new furniture, beds, and rugs, offering a more contemporary feel while still maintaining a southern atmosphere.
Beau Rivage Golf & Resort offers a one-of-a-kind experience, and its success has been acknowledged through numerous awards, such as being voted by Wilmington StarNews ShorePicks for Best Golf Course three years in a row (2016-2018), Best Country Club (2017-2018) and Best Hotel (2017). Beau Rivage was also named Best Golf Course in 2018 by Encore Magazine. “We’re certainly humbled by these recent accolades, let alone being nominated, considering how we started on the ground floor with no experience in 2006,” says Jake Walker. “It definitely takes a village and we couldn’t be more proud of our fantastic staff for doing what they do, day in and day out. We’ve all worked hard to get Beau Rivage where it is today and are excited to continue improving all aspects of the resort for years to come.”