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Business: Doc Lachicotte gets award for lifetime of leadership

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

When A.H. “Doc” Lachicotte Jr. got wind of a plan in the early 1980s to turn property at Wachesaw Plantation into a mobile home park, he couldn’t abide the idea.

That wasn’t the direction the lifelong Pawleys Island resident wanted to see the area go in. So, he organized a group of investors to help him purchase the property and, together, they turned it into Wachesaw Plantation Club, a private golf course community.

That’s just one example of how Lachicotte, 83, has helped shape growth in the area as it was being transformed by a burgeoning population.

“He has worked for many years to preserve the rich history of the area from pre-colonial days to the present,” said Annette Fisher, president of the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce.

It was largely those efforts that led the Chamber to select Lachicotte as the recipient of its 2010 Lifetime of Leadership Award. The award is one of nine intended to recognize “excellence in business at every level of contribution.”

The award recipients will be honored tonight at DeBordieu Country Club during the Chamber’s 93rd annual meeting.

Lachicotte, who is founder of the Lachicotte Co. and serves as chairman of its board, said he is honored and humbled by the award. But he doesn’t feel he did anything to deserve it.

From his perspective, his efforts at preservation were just good business and an attempt to help the area he loves maintain the character that makes it such a wonderful place to live. That means maintaining the area’s beauty and protecting resources, including its rivers and creeks.

“It’s a mistake not to keep the quality of life we have here,” he said. That belief has always guided him in his land development projects.

“I don’t build junk,” he said. “Everything I do, I do well.”

He wishes other developers were as conscientious.

“I’m concerned about a lot of the stuff I see going up now,” he added.

A graduate of Clemson College, Lachicotte began his real estate career in the 1960s and has been involved ever since in rentals, sales and development of real estate and golf courses on Waccamaw Neck and along the Grand Strand.

Among the developments he’s had a hand in are Waverly Plantation, River Club, Litchfield Country Club and nationally-acclaimed Caledonia and True Blue Golf clubs.

Caledonia, he said, is his favorite and will always be special to him. He eats lunch at its clubhouse several times a week and never ceases to be impressed by the beauty of the land, which he was careful to protect.

Built on the site of a former plantation, the clubhouse has a breathtaking view of rice fields on the Waccamaw River.

Visitors reach the clubhouse via a winding lane of live oaks, which Lachicotte was adamant be preserved.

The club opened in 1995, but Lachicotte and a small group of others purchased the property in 1971. They used it as a fishing club and had no idea it would eventually become a golf course, Lachicotte said.

The club is one of few that didn’t incorporate housing during development.

“There wasn’t room,” Lachicotte explained.

The courses at Caledonia are superb, Lachicotte said, but the club also attracts many non-golfers, who fill the dining room at the clubhouse every day for lunch. He estimates about 80 percent of the diners are non-golfers.

“We’ve never lost money on the dining room here,” Lachicotte said. That’s something few golf clubs can say, he added.

He attributes the accomplishment to top-notch employees and loyal customers who appreciate the quality of the food and service, as well as the view.

“You’ve got to consistently put out good food and you’ve got to work to keep good people on the staff,” Lachicotte said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have a group of employees who take pride in what they do and are more like a family. That appeals to people.”

Lachicotte said he can remember when there were only two golf courses in all of Georgetown and Horry counties, and he watched that number increase to about 130.

Litchfield Country Club and the Seagull Golf Course, which is now the Founders Club, were the first to come to Waccamaw Neck in the 1960s. They were the only courses in the area for many years, he recalled.

Lachicotte is one of 20 investors responsible for Litchfield Country Club. He said it was once a social center for the community, and the club’s dining room was a popular gathering spot.

When he got involved with the country club, Lachicotte said, he knew it would be successful, but he was still surprised by how quickly growth occurred.

Lachicotte also has interests in Ponderosa, Inc., which developed and owns Pirateland Family Campground, and Inlet Sports Lodge.

In addition to his business concerns, Lachicotte is involved in a number of community organizations. He serves on the boards of Georgetown Marine Institute, the Georgetown County Water and Sewer District and the Horry-Georgetown Technical College Foundation. He is also a trustee emeritus of Brookgreen Gardens and an active member of All Saints Church.

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