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Monday, August 30, 2010

Are You In Myrtle Beach For The Only Amateur "Major" In The World?

World Amateur Handicap Championship to pack Myrtle Beach area

Tournament for amateurs to lure 3,000 players

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Thousands of golfers have descended on Myrtle Beach for this week's World Amateur Handicap Championship, an event that will tie up dozens of courses and give the summer tourism season a final boost before Labor Day.

Players are guaranteed four tournament rounds today through Thursday before the championship round that ends the event on Friday. Tournament director Dave Macpherson spoke to The Sun News about when courses will be busy, how those who aren't registered can enjoy the event and what the tournament means for the Grand Strand economy.

Question | How many golfers are you expecting this year? How does that compare to previous years?
Answer | We're expecting 3,100 on the button, which is about 2 percent growth over last year. Of that 3,100, we've seen 12 percent growth in what will be first-time players to the event; 757 of the players are first-time players...

These are people that typically would be spectating at a PGA Tour event. This is their chance to kind of play. A lot of them refer to it as their major, the regular golfers' major...

We've got 48 states represented, everybody except for the Dakotas, and I think we're up to about 14 countries internationally. And we'll have 14 people that will be playing this year for the 27th time; they've been to every single World Am.

Q. | What does this mean for the Grand Strand economy?

A. | Numbers-wise it's about a $10 million economic impact on the beach, based on everything that goes on for the entire week, between hotels, restaurants, golf. On the media side, it consistently pulls national media coverage, especially on the golf side with things like Golf Channel and golf magazines. Particularly this year, with Sports Illustrated Golf Group as the title sponsor, they're basically covering the event via all of their outlets:, Golf Magazine, SI Golf Plus, which is about 14 million golfers across the globe. So, more so this year than ever, the media coverage that the event and Myrtle Beach will receive is going to be about as strong as it's been in the entire history of the event. It's about 20,000 room nights [that] will be booked during the week because some players make it a two-week vacation, most make it at least seven to 10 nights.

Q. | Which courses will be used? How will this affect those not in the tournament who want to golf?

A. | We'll use 34 different courses each day, and we'll use 59 total for the week at one point or another. Some courses host all days, some host one. Obviously, the availability of golf for those not participating in the tournament is certainly there, it's just not as readily available because so many courses are already being used.
There is certainly golf to be had. So if you're just here as a vacationer or you're a local, you can still find somewhere to play. It's just the pickings are a little bit slimmer, especially in the morning, because all the rounds are either an 8:30 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. shotgun start. So most of the courses, they're full till about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. After 3 o'clock you can play pretty much anywhere you'd like.

Q. | Registration for the tournament has closed. Can the public attend any of the events?

A. | The (19th hole at the Myrtle Beach) convention center, that's a private party for just players and guests only. Now if they happen to know someone playing in the event and want to attend as a guest of a player, I suppose they could do that. But as far as actually being able to purchase tickets, that they would not be able to do.

Spectating certainly is welcomed. At most courses, they would be asked to walk and spectate and stay on the cart paths, but the courses do let them go out and spectate if they'd like. Certainly on the last day, which is the championship round held on Friday the 3rd of September, is being held this year at TPC Myrtle Beach, and of all days, that's the one day we do get some spectators.
Contact JAKE SPRING at 626-0310.

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