Wes Loman is a staple of the Instagram golf community, and his laid back beach vibes are a constant reminder to hang back and enjoy the reason we all get out on the links. A former competitive athlete, Wes is known as The Salty Golfer to his IG faithful, and now he spends his days helping to make memories and promote the city of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as a destination spot for the golfer and family like.
We've done two golf ball markers with Wes — the Dirty Myrtle Drip in 2022 and the Don't 3 Putt Me Flag in 2023. He's a good cat to talk to, so we sat down with him to learn more about what he actually does as his beachcombing, easy-swinging alter ego.
When did you get into golf? Take me through your golf journey a little bit and how you got to where you are now.
Golf has always been a part of the family. So my grandfather was a great amateur golfer. My dad has three brothers that all played golf. Sports were very, very, very prevalent in our family. I played baseball, basketball, football, basketball all the way through college, but golf was always something we did as a family, whether it be on vacation or whatever.
Whenever the family got together every other year we would take a massive family vacation and it was built around whatever golf courses we were planning on playing. We had our own family tournament. You had to be 13 years old to be able to play in it, and you had to be either married into the family or blood to play in it. We had our own trophy and everything, it was all handicapped so we organized it pretty well. So from the time I can remember, I've had golf clubs in my hands.
I really started taking it seriously after college, and at my age now it's the last thing I can really be competitive in. Those competitive juices still flow, but your body says, “Hey, you're not a basketball player anymore, so find something else.”
(Laughing) The knees don't work like they used to, and the ankles swell a lot faster, but golf… it's just always been there. Even now with my kids, whether it's putt-putt or going to the short course or something like that, we’re into it. Katie, my wife, doesn't play but she loves a golf and she loves hanging out with me on the golf course.
Nowadays, I do golf both ways. I do it highly competitively — I love to compete and play in tournaments, but I'll also just love to get out there with my friends and family and just absolutely chill. Not even worry about keeping a score. So there's definitely a Jekyll and Hyde within me when it comes to golf. If it's tournament time, I mean, I'm in it man. I want to win it. I want to cut your throat off and beat you. But if it's just we're hanging with the boys or whatever, then it's super chill.
But golf to me, there's nothing like it. You can't pass anybody. You can't call a timeout. There's no one that's going to bail you out if you mess up. It's just you against the golf course and things might not be going your way, but you’ve got to figure out a way to get that ball in the hole.
And I think that's what I love more about it the game now that I'm older. There is no one else to rely on but yourself. And you can learn a lot with that, not just in golf, but in life. When your back is against the wall, who are you going to trust most? Probably yourself. That's what I really love about the game right now is just how it's just you. It's just you, the golf course, the ball, and how good can you be that day?
So in terms of where you're at now, you’re a big Myrtle Beach guy. Tell me about how you ended up there and why you love it so much?
We’ve always vacationed here. Our family has always owned property here, like we had a condo at one point. Some of my first memories are coming here with my family on vacation.
I'm originally from Nashville, Tennessee. My mom was in the music business, I grew up in that world. My dad's a minister and my mom was an executive at a record company. Vacations were always built around golf courses when I was a kid, so to me, Myrtle Beach was the golf capital of the world. And it kind of is, in reality. At one time there were 106 golf courses in a 60-mile stretch here. Now it's about 78 just because golf courses were bought out and houses and condos were built and stuff like that.
As a kid, I was pretty good at football, so I transferred to Mobile, Alabama to play prep football down there. But in late in high school, I found out I was pretty good at basketball and really started concentrating on that, so I transferred back to a prep school in High Point, North Carolina called Wesleyan Academy and played my last two years.
And that's where I met my wife, Katie. She was a cheerleader at Wesleyan Academy, and she went off to NC State to go to college. I went to play college ball at a school called Piedmont University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I played AAU ball against and with guys like Julius Peppers and Brendan Haywood and a lot of those North Carolina guys that went on to play for the Tar Heels. That was really fun.
I’ve kind of been all around the southeast. Myrtle Beach is where we call home now and we absolutely love it. We actually started The Salty Golfer before we moved here full-time, but once we got here for good, it really kind of took on a life of its own.
Tell me a little bit about that. Explain sort of the ethos of The Salty Golfer and what it is you really do?
Katie and I owned our own company at one point, it was called Old North State Clothing Company. We owned heat press machines and embroidery machines, everything we needed to make our own clothing.
We both had day jobs too, and we weren't quite as passionate as we thought we were going to be about the clothing gig because it kind of turned into a second job. It really was doing pretty well, but we couldn't keep up with it because we did have regular jobs. Eventually someone offered to buy that business from us, buy all our equipment and our fabric and our supply and everything like that. And the price was right and we sold it all to him. I offered to sell him the Instagram page, but they weren't interested in that at all. We only had a thousand followers at the time, but I thought that's something they might want to take over and use.
He had no interest in doing that. So I was stuck with this Instagram page, but I was always playing golf and had been posting that content to my personal page. Katie just said one day, “Why don’t you change the name of that Instagram page? You like to take pictures when you're playing golf and you love the ocean, so why don't you just call yourself The Salty Golfer?”
It just kind of stuck. A lot of people think The Salty Golfer is because my beard's black and gray, or maybe because I have a sour attitude sometimes or something like that. But it's really just because of the salt and the air around the ocean.
We started taking pictures locally at my local muni when I was living in North Carolina, and decided to make a couple of stickers to see if anybody was interested in merch. And I made, I don't know, I think 75 stickers and put 'em on Instagram. I was selling them for $2 each and they were gone in a couple of hours. So I thought we might be on to something there. Fast forward a few months and we had the opportunity to move to Myrtle Beach full-time. I told Katie, hey let's see if we can take this a step further.
Myrtle Beach is a destination spot, and there’s so many golf trips being taken here. But let's just say you're on vacation and you're the only one in your family that plays golf, or you only have a twosome on your trip. It's so busy here, you can't just call and play alone, they're going to put you with three other cats. We all know that that can be weird and awkward — maybe for the first little bit, or it could be awkward for the whole day. So I just decided to make myself available to my followers to play golf with them to bulk up their playing group. Then eventually I started documenting the trips for people, taking pictures, etc. I knew where the good spots were to take pictures, I knew where to get the best video. From there I started building relationships with all the golf courses around here, and then that transformed into building and building golf trips for people.
Now we book 30 to 50 golf trips a year for people that come down on different vacations every year. We're as involved or uninvolved as you want us to be. If you just want us to book the rooms and the golf and you guys go do it, that’s cool. A lot of times, because it's through Instagram, they want us to be a part of it and play with them. So we do, and what was say is that, “It’s a party and where golf gets in the way.”
If folks want, we’ll take care of all the documentation of the trip for them. Then we edit all the pictures and the videos and we send it to 'em, and they have those memories for a lifetime. And that's just what we want to do: want to help them create a memory so that they come back. Because at the end of the day, unless the round is something special, we're not going to remember the score or what we shot. But we're going to remember the laughs and we're going to remember the dinner; we're going to remember the beers and the 19th hole. We're going to cherish all that stuff.
We're just trying to educate people on how good Myrtle Beach Golf is, and how much we have in town, and howaffordable it is to play here
At the end of every trip, we have everyone sign our pirate flag. We’ll do a shot of rum with 'em, and we send them on their way. It's really turned into something pretty cool. Sometimes I still can't believe how much we’ve done when I'm looking back at the pictures. We’re getting ready to hit 16,000 followers, which I never thought would happen. I know that's probably nothing compared to a lot of golf people on Instagram, but what's cool about The Salty Golfer is that it has all been organic. We don't pay for followers or anything like that, we're very engaging and our followers are very connected to us. The responses you get on that page, they're coming fromme.
We're just a laid back lifestyle golf brand. I'll tell you, if one thing from good came from COVID, it’s that a lot of people that would've never played ended up picking up a golf club because of it. I'm a firm believer in that, and I really feel like it's my part of what I'm trying to do is not lose those people. I want to make golf for everyone. I don't care if you wear a sweatshirt, if you’re barefoot, if you’ve got tattoos or crazy hair. As long as you love the game of golf. It’s for everybody.
I'm trying to help golf courses and some of the old guard understand that, because if we don't keep the people that came to the game the past couple of years, what are we doing? I've really tried to make myself approachable. I know I'm not your average-looking golfer. I'm 6-foot-8, 290 lbs., and I’ve got tattoos all over with a long ass beard. I'm not a country club kid. I’ll do that country club stuff if it’s required, but I just really want to see people not scared to play golf, or not afraid to try it out.
There are people out here trying to do the same thing as me. Take the Muni Kids, for example. Those guys out there doing stuff like playing Urban Golf streets and all that. That's so fucking rad to me. In fact, Drew Reinland was one of the first guys that reached out to me and said, “Dude, I really dig what you're doing.” I'm wearing a Muni Kids hat right now that I bought from them probably three or four years ago. We need this kind of thing in golf.
At the end of the day, it’s about doing something that is bringing joy and fun to the game of golf.
How does that jive with Myrtle Beach as a town and a golf community? I don’t know what the stereotype of that town is. Is it all laid back beachy stuff? How expensive is it? What's the vibe of that place?
So the great thing about Myrtle Beach, and I touched on it a little bit earlier, is just the vast number of golf courses we have in our backyard. And anywhere from five-star championship courses to your beachside munis. I mean, you can play golf for $35 down here, or you can play golf for $225 down here.
But in the grand scheme of things, what is so cool about Myrtle Beach is that it's a vacation town, but it's not a resort town. Our golf courses aren't resort golf courses. We've got golf courses with really good bones down here — TPC Myrtle Beach, Pawley’s Plantation, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue, etc. They've taken these beautiful pieces of property with so much history — good and bad, being in the South — and turned them into absolutely beautiful pieces of art.
And what is really cool about Myrtle Beach is you can bring your family here and you can be the only one that plays golf, but everyone else can still go do things that they want to do. We also really cater to the junior golfer down here. I would say 90% of the golf courses down here have a deal where junior golf is free with at least one paying adult. I mean, that's amazing.
So I can I book trips for people where I can put you in a condo for four nights, depending on the time of the year, and you can play golf three of those four days and it's only going to cost you anywhere from $350 to $700. And you're playing really good golf courses. So it's just very affordable, even if it’s not necessarily cheap. But for a vacation for a family of four? I think that’s a great deal.
They've really dumped some money into the city. There's a really cool scene downtown now. And like I said, there's 70+ golf courses in a 60-mile stretch. It’s called the Grand Strand, and you can come here for 20 years in a row and play two rounds every time you come and not get it all done. It's amazing, there's something for everyone, and it is a cool vibe down here.
You're starting to see these cool companies being put in pro shops, and it's really nice to see that they are accepting it. I'm starting to see Myrtle Beach accept these type of things, and they're accepting it with open arms, which is really cool to see. I mean, not to toot my own horn, I just feel like it's my part to help everyone see how good Myrtle Beach is and to get as many people here as possible. And not just to get 'em here, but to get 'em to come back.
What do you wish more people knew about golf that doesn't get talked about enough?
There's a lot of really cool things going on out here in the world as far as as what we're doing in the Instagram golf community. Maybe it's something that I can do in the future, but I wish we had more meetups.
I wish there was more of a central location where we all just did our thing. Almost kind of like a ComiCon type of thing. We could share our ideas and think up new things to do, where we could spitball things off of each other. I wish there was something like that. But I don't think there is.
I think it would be really cool if, two or three times or once a quarter or whatever, there was an opportunity for businesses like the Salty Golfer and Matchstick or the Muni Kids to get together. It would be great if there was a space for us to all come together and meet and talk and bounce things off of each other. Like an open forum. I think it would be really cool to see something like that happen because I respect all of these people, and have seen them do cool things, and have borrowed things that they do… but it would be cool to meet and talk with people that I respect and admire that I'm inspired by daily.
Which would you rather have: your best round ever or a hole-in-one?
I've shot some pretty low scores; I've shot 68 twice. So I would have to go hole-in-one at this point. I've got two, but they're on Par 3 courses, so I don't know if you count that or not. But to tip out on a golf course and you have a 175 yard Par 3 hole-in-one? That would be amazing.