The inaugural Myrtle Beach Classic will be played from May 9-12, 2024, according to the PGA Tour, which released its 2024 schedule Monday.
The first PGA Tour event to ever be held on the Grand Strand will be played the same week as the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, which will feature the top 70 to 80 players on tour and an anticipated purse of $20 million.
The Myrtle Beach event at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club will have a purse of $3.9 million and feature a full field – which is generally 144 players or more – of tour members who don’t qualify for the Wells Fargo.
The Myrtle Beach Classic will be broadcast on the Golf Channel, while the Wells Fargo will be broadcast on CBS, Golf Channel and ESPN+.
The two events will lead into the season’s second major championship, the PGA Championship, which will be played May 16-19 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
The PGA Tour is contracted to bring a tournament to The Dunes Club for four consecutive years through 2027.
The Myrtle Beach tournament will be one of five opposite-field events in 2024 that coincide with elevated designated events, which are being called ‘signature’ events in 2024. There will be eight signature events prior to the FedExCup Playoffs with fields no greater than 80 players, tour officials have said.
The PGA Tour created seven elevated designated tournaments this year with $20 million purses – regular weekly tour events have purses averaging slightly more than $8 million – in response to the creation of the LIV Golf series and its exorbitant payouts and bonuses.
The two golf circuits reached an agreement in late May to work together under the same umbrella along with Europe’s DP World Tour.
Players who aren’t in the Wells Fargo will have additional incentive to play in Myrtle Beach other than prize money.
The Myrtle Beach Classic will be one of three tournaments over four weeks (from May 9-June 2) that will help determine 15 players that will qualify for a pair of signature events – the Memorial Tournament from June 6-9 and Travelers Championship from June 20-23, which follows the U.S. Open.
Players in the top 50 of the 2023 FedExCup points standings will qualify for all 2024 signature events.
In addition, the top five FedExCup points earners (being called the Swing 5) in the Myrtle Beach Classic, Charles Schwab Challenge and RBC Canadian Open will qualify for both events. And the top 10 players in the 2024 FedExCup standings (being called the Next 10) not otherwise exempt will also qualify for both.
Securing a tour event
The Myrtle Beach area has hosted a myriad of significant pro and amateur golf tournaments, but funding has always been a primary roadblock to hosting a PGA Tour event since there is little industry or major corporations based in the area.
But Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau president and CEO Karen Riordan was insistent upon Golf Town USA finally hosting a PGA Tour event, and the chamber is strongly behind the event financially as its title sponsor through Visit Myrtle Beach.
“I felt [a PGA Tour event] is absolutely appropriate for Myrtle Beach,” Riordan said during a May 10 press conference announcing the tournament. “. . . Why not Myrtle Beach, South Carolina? We are the golf capital of the world and I think it’s a perfect fit.”
The chamber has become more involved in notable sporting events in recent years with its organizational and financial support of the Myrtle Beach Invitational college basketball tournament at Coastal Carolina University and Myrtle Beach Bowl college football game, which are both televised on ESPN networks.
Golf Tourism Solutions, a marketing and technology agency that represents the Grand Strand market and is a marketing partner with the chamber, and the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism are also expected to contribute to the funding of the event.
The PGA Tour is hiring a tournament operator that will manage the event, bring in additional sponsors and raise money for charities, including many that are local. PGA Tour vice president Kelly Jensen said the tour’s minimum charitable contribution through a tournament is $225,000.
Preparing The Dunes Club
Among the many championships hosted by The Dunes Club are the 1962 U.S. Women’s Open won by Murle Lindstrom and the 1977 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur won by Dorothy Porter – both USGA events – the 2014 PGA Professional National Championship won by Michael Block, the 1973 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament won by Ben Crenshaw, and the Senior (Champions) Tour Championship from 1994-99.
The Robert Trent Jones design that opened in 1948 will be lengthened and altered slightly for the Myrtle Beach Classic to play up to 7,375 yards, according to Dunes Club president Collins Wakefield, with the addition of new tee boxes.
It will play as a par-71 with the changing of the par-5 eighth hole into a 453-yard par-4, as well.
The PGA Tour has been in South Carolina for 55 years with the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, which was elevated to a designated event with a $20 million purse this year and will be a signature event in 2024.
The state has been home to a second PGA Tour event in each of the past two seasons, as Congaree Golf Club in Ridgeland has hosted a pair of events that were displaced by the coronavirus pandemic.
Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course has hosted the state’s most prolific events in the PGA Championship in both 2012 and 2021, and the 1991 Ryder Cup.
Riordan said in May that the four-year contract could be the beginning of a longer relationship with the PGA Tour.
“We felt like this is the right way to step into this,” she said then. “After the four years we could make a decision to continue to renew it as is or potentially do something different, but right now we’re really, really happy with a $3.9 million purse and doing it as that.”