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How a John Daly-backed amateur tour was formed in Myrtle Beach and will benefit charities and the area

The tour tees off the first of 23 events on the Grand Strand in early February, and Daly's foundation will be a beneficiary.

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A new amateur golf tour is entering the Myrtle Beach market, and it has the backing and involvement of two-time major champion John Daly.

The Heart of a Lion Amateur Golf Tour will benefit the John Daly – Major Ed Heart of Lion Foundation, which focuses largely on benefiting charities that assist children, veterans and first responders.

Major Ed Pulido, the foundation CEO and co-founder with Daly, said it has donated to more than 80 charities since its inception in 2020.

The Fried Egg Amateur Tour was set to debut this year in several markets across the U.S. but has undergone a rebranding prior to the first tee shot.

Iowa resident Mike Raushenberger is the founder of the tour, and Dalton Mitchell is the Myrtle Beach chapter owner/director.

The name change occurred after Teddy McPheeters, a Myrtle Beach businessman and former golf pro, met Mitchell and called on his connection with Daly to bring the parties together.

The creation of a tour

Raushenberger played on a national amateur tour for three years but wasn’t happy with the points format and awarding of the player of the year honors in each division.

He disagreed with a policy that essentially punished a player for improving during the course of a season. As a player’s handicap improved they were moved into a higher division and essentially lost the opportunity to win player of the year in either division.

He created a “stroke-back” system that allows players to remain in the same division for a full season, and when the operators of his tour weren’t open to implementing the system, he decided to create his own tour.

“I’d say that the amateur tours have about 80 percent of it right, but about 20 percent of it is wrong as far as how they’re actually forming the tour and running the tour and giving out points and awarding the winners,” Raushenberger said. “The people who won player of the year weren’t truly the player of the year because of the structure and moving between divisions.”

For each handicap point a player improves outside of his assigned division, he gives back one stroke to the field for each of the first two handicap points, and two points to the field for three and successive handicap points of improvement.

“So it means they get to still compete with all the individuals they made friends with, and their friends get to compete with them,” said Raushenberger, whose tour has stated core values of integrity, camaraderie, and good sportsmanship. “So it’s not just the one player, the total group loses when that happens. So we’ll keep them in the same division, and if they want to be promoted they can, but it’s their option now.”

In July, Raushenberger filed for the copyright of the Fried Egg name. He found about a dozen chapter owners/directors from the East Coast to Las Vegas and Phoenix, including Mitchell in Myrtle Beach.

McPheeters, who is a veteran dealing with PTSD, was the first head pro at Wicked Stick Golf Course in Surfside Beach, which Daly was credited with co-designing, and he and Daly reconnected in April at the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am.

Daly mentioned that he wanted to get the Heart of a Lion foundation more involved in the Myrtle Beach area.

McPheeters has done promotional work with Scott Schaeffer and SEU Promotions golf events, and Schaeffer introduced him to Mitchell. They brainstormed and came up with the idea of merging the foundation with the amateur tour to bring more exposure to both and dollars to the Daly – Major Ed foundation, and both Daly and Raushenberger were on board.

“This is not about making any money for me,” said Raushenberger, who owns multiple businesses. “It’s always been about doing the right thing, having the right format out there for the golf, and now it’s about giving back to the veterans, first responders and the children.”

The tour has five divisions in handicap increments of five (1-4.9, 5-9.9, 10-14.9, 15-19.9, and 20+). Tour membership is $125 and $50 of that goes to the Heart of a Lion foundation. Two events can be played without membership for an additional $30 each. Players can register on the tour website.

There are 23 events scheduled on the Myrtle Beach Tour in 2024 beginning with a two-day, 36-hole tournament scheduled Feb. 3-4 at Legends Resort. The entry fee is $180 and Raushenberger expects to sell out 68 playing spots.

Many of the top Grand Strand courses are on the schedule, which includes TPC Myrtle Beach, Tidewater, Caledonia, True Blue, Grande Dunes Members Club, Grande Dunes Resort Course, Thistle, Pawleys Plantation, Arrowhead, Heritage Club, Oyster Bay, Crow Creek, Myrtlewood, Long Bay Club, Aberdeen, Burning Ridge, Litchfield, Willbrook and Tradition Club.

Most events are one or two days, though there is a three-day Memorial Day Bash at Barefoot Resort’s four courses, with a cut after 36 holes and consolation final round.

National events are being booked through 2025. The 2025 national championship will be at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook in Florida in September 2025, and an event is scheduled for TPC Las Vegas on Labor Day weekend in 2025.

“Signing up with Heart of a Lion really gives us the elevated ability to not only give back to families and veterans and the community, but really just elevate the tour from a national perspective to be seen as that philanthropic group that people can be a part of,” Mitchell said.

John Daly hits a shot off a beer can during a Monday After the Masters outing. (Golf Tourism Solutions photo)

The creation of a foundation

In 2004, Pulido was injured in combat when he was hit by a roadside IED (improvised explosive device) bomb in Iraq.

After 19 years in the Army, he was medically retired in 2005 and has since been the co-founding member, senior vice president and now ambassador for the Folds of Honor Foundation, and co-founder of the Warriors for Freedom Foundation – charities that benefit veterans and their families.

“I had just left Folds of Honor and was sort of retired, and John came calling right afterwards and wanted to do something kind of special to create a legacy for himself,” Pulido said. “He actually had a foundation that didn’t go very well financially and he felt like he needed somebody that knew the foundation world and could make it happen.”

The John Daly – Major Ed Heart of a Lion Foundation was created.

Pulido explained the Heart of a Lion logo and its meaning: the purple heart reflects the sacrifices made by the men and women who fight for our freedom, and highlights our faith in God and love for our country, which is the red, white and blue, and John’s lion logo represents the lion with a heart, or the lion caring for others.

Daly has been generous with several charities for veterans and children, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“John has helped a lot of people,” Pulido said. “Over the years there are countless stories of love and support, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Pulido is excited about the tour and its possibilities for the foundation. “It’s a dual partnership. One side of it is the am tour, the other side is the philanthropy piece coming together to make a difference, and that to me is a winning combination,” Pulido said.

In addition to $50 from every tour membership purchase going to the foundation, there are links to donate on the tour website and other donation avenues are being discussed. They include money from any tour sponsors, donations from tour members that make them eligible for weekly product and trip giveaways, and fundraising dinners.

Pulido said there have been discussions with foundation sponsors including Omaha Steaks and Good Boy Vodka, which produces ready-to-drink John Daly Cocktails, about getting involved in the tour. “There’s a lot of synergy here,” Pulido said.

Daly may be coming to Myrtle Beach for an amateur or charity event affiliated with the tour and foundation. “John hits that footprint quite a bit. If we can get him there for an event, it gives some validity for all of us to be involved,” Pulido said.

Pulido has come to Myrtle Beach a lot with his family and for events, such as a Folds of Honor fundraiser that has been held at Tidewater Golf Club on Labor Day Weekend for several years.

“We’re creating our own brand and our own opportunities to excel and do something unique here,” Pulido said. “It encompasses supporting people who may have needs and may need our support, and supporting the amateurs that are following their dream.”

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