Full of beans
Former UGA golfer and head golf coach Beans Kelly has traded the turf for the surf
Beans Kelly holds the small stingray up for her campers—ages 6 to 11—to observe.
“That’s what killed the Crocodile Hunter,” Kelly (BSEd ’90) tells them as they stare fascinated. “Only that one was much bigger.”
She deftly unhooks the ray from the line and tosses it back into the surf off North Litchfield Beach, S.C. The youngsters check their own lines, re-bait and cast back out.
By noon, all but one will have caught something, most of them small whiting that can be seen jumping in the waves just off shore.
It’s a different venue for Kelly, a former UGA women’s golf coach who has spent the past decade teaching kids to play golf. Her mission is the same—to get children outdoors and teach them an activity they can enjoy the rest of their lives.
“I get kids to realize the resources available to them, really at very little cost,” Kelly says. “You can buy a fishing pole for $25 and can fish anywhere for free until you’re 16. After that you can get a fishing license for very little money.”
Over the week, Kelly—whose real name is Eileen, but has been called Beans since she was 2— shows the children, most of them from the nearby communities, how to dig up sand fleas to use as bait, cast a fishing line, and how to reel in the big one. The also spend a morning on a pier in Murrell’s Inlet trolling for blue crabs in the murky water below. She even shows them how to clean and prepare the fish so that they can take them home and eat them.
Many of the fish and crabs caught are tossed back—too small to legally be kept for food. Other things they catch that won’t be used as food, like the stingray, also are set free. Kelly emphasizes the need to protect the ocean and its delicate ecosystems.
Kelly is all smiles during the 1999 Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic at the UGA Golf Course, which Georgia won. Photo by UGA Sports Communications.
The idea for the camps arose last winter, when Kelly was looking for a change in her life. She moved to North Litchfield Beach in 2005 to work at a golf school, which has since gone out of business. After that, she began her own golf instruction business, but that took a hit when the economy turned south.
“I did a lot of soul searching,” she says. A friend and former adviser of Kelly’s from her days at UGA encouraged her to capitalize on the love of fishing she developed as a child on the Maryland coast. She launched Beans@TheBeach LLC earlier this year, advertising “beach concierge services” for vacationers and lining up nine weeks of summer camps for kids. She plans to offer an after-school program for children this fall.
“I guess I’m always a coach,“ she says. “I just changed my venue.”
Kelly played golf at UGA from 1981 to 1983, leaving without her degree to play professionally. After two years on the pro circuit, she returned to Georgia as an assistant pro at an Atlanta golf course. In 1986, she was approached by UGA to consider the position as head coach. There was one catch: She had to finish her degree while she was here. She received her bachelor’s degree in 1990 and stayed on to coach women’s golf until 2000.
As big a part of her life as golf has been, Kelly admits she prefers to fish.
“Right now, if you gave me a choice to go play Augusta (National) or go fishing,” she says. “I’d go fishing.”