Beth Kocher, one of the core team who helped revilatilized the Pinehurst Resort after it was purchased by ClubCorp in the 1980s, passed away last week and is remembered by those who worked closely with her at the Resort and the community.
Kocher passed away at the age of 77 in Delray Beach, Florida from complications resulting from Alzheimer’s Disease.
After working in Florida early on in her career, Kocher made the move to the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in 1984 to serve as the executive vice president with ClubCorp coming into the area.
“There was a lot of work to do just to determine how to put it all back together again and make it work,” said Pat Corso, who came on in 1986 and served as the executive president until 2004. “She was a key player in that process in the very beginning.”
Kocher served in her role until retirement in 2006.
ClubCorp was tasked with getting the resort financially stable as well as helping to continue to reinvigorate the club’s golf presence. Corso said the core group of leaders for the work done included Kocher and her husband Brad, along with Don Padgett Sr., Ken Baer and himself.
“That was really the core team back then and all of us were really involved in the process,” Corso said.
Beth Kocher played a key part in the U.S. Golf Association championships that first came through Pinehurst Resort and the local area over the last eight years of her tenure on the job. Before the USGA takeover of its championship events, the resort was responsible for all aspects of the championships hosted, including the men’s U.S. Open in 1999 and 2005, and the women’s U.S. Open at Pine Needles in 2001 and 2007, leading to the creation of Pinehurst Championship Management.
"Beth was an amazing combination of hard work, toughness and intelligence," Baer said. "She helped bring the resort through some tough membership times and it was her leadership that helped do that."
Overseeing the membership was one aspect of the job for Kocher, along with playing a big part in the rehabilitation of the Holly Inn and oversaw programming for the Pinehurst Spa, Baer said he remembered from his 13 years working alongside her.
Kocher served as the lead executive over that arm of the resort that handled many of the logistical aspects of the championship.
“To me when you think about Beth, I think a lot of her engagement with those events operating them and putting the teams together,” Corso said. “She played a big role in running the events.”
Corso said that Kocher’s mentorship also was a big part of her effective leadership with Pinehurst Championship Management. Many of those younger workers have gone on to serve in large roles in the golf industry, including current Pinehurst Resort President Tom Pashley.
"Beth was a pivotal leader in Pinehurst’s development under ClubCorp’s ownership, and her impact on moving Pinehurst forward can still be felt today," Pashley said in an email. "Beth exuded power and grace. I always admired her, but also found her slightly intimidating. Thank goodness we were on the same team."
Baer commented Kocher's all business demeanor it took when working on a project.
"She was a really nice lady and could be really nice to everybody," he said, "but when she needed to get things done, she got things done."
In 2005, Kocher served as the executive chair for the U.S. Open, making her the first woman to serve in that position. Corso noted Kocher’s versatility that served her well in her more than 20-year career at Pinehurst.
With that, she also had an established knowledge for the area she was working in.
“I think of Beth often as a great legal mind who wasn’t a lawyer,” Corso said. “She understood contracts, she understood the law and she understood relationships. She was a subject matter expert when it comes to club operations and club management.”
Corso said his last time seeing Kocher was when she and her husband, Brad, came to his office before relocating to Florida in 2011. The moment was somber to look back at the work done by three members of the “core team.”
“When you work that closely with people, it’s not just a work relationship, it almost becomes a familial relationship,” Corso said. “We had to be in the beginning because the challenge was so big.”
Outside of her work with the resort, Kocher also was the first female member of the Pinehurst Rotary Club. Kocher served on the local hospital board, and was a board member of the Sandhills Children’s Center as well.
“We were very fortunate to have Beth be a part of the community support that helped us spread awareness of our mission,” said Melanie Gayle, CEO of the Sandhills Children’s Center. “She was a vital part of our outreach in the community.”
Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.