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Friday, June 14, 2024

World’s largest golf tournament still going strong in Myrtle Beach after 40 years

The event will be played Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 on 52 Grand Strand golf courses.

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In its 40th year, the PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com World Amateur Handicap Championship is still going strong.

The largest golf tournament in the world held in one general location has more than 3,200 players registered as of mid-July, which is slightly ahead of last year’s pace and similar to recent years, aside from 2021.

It will be played Aug. 28 through Sept. 1 on 52 Grand Strand golf courses.

“The year coming out of Covid we saw a huge spike, so the last two years we’ve returned back to our typical numbers,” tournament director Scott Tomasello said. “Our goal is always to clear 3,000 and the more the merrier.”

All 50 states are represented in the registrations, in addition to players from 17 foreign countries, including a large contingent from Portugal, which is third in registrations behind the U.S. and Canada.

Twenty-five percent of registrants are new participants.

There are five players who have played in every World Am. Paul Ciancanelli of Dermotte, Indiana; Gerald States of Baden, Pennsylvania; Dean Tedder of Davie, Florida; Don Yelton of Shelby, N.C.; and Ray Zajcek of Dallas will be playing in their 40th World Ams this year.

The tournament features net flights organized by gender, age and handicap, four gross divisions for the second year – men, senior men (50-plus), mid-senior men (60-plus) and women – as well as a just for fun flight.

The Grande Dunes Resort Course will host of the championship round for the second time in three years. It will feature flight winners over four days and 72 holes competition.

Players can register for $699 through Aug. 4.

A few courses that have been out of the World Am rotation for at least the past few years have returned this year including Oyster Bay Golf Club, Heritage Club and Wedgefield Plantation Golf Club in Georgetown.

The World’s Largest 19th Hole – a nightly expo and party with catered food and drinks at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center – features 48 exhibitors, which is essentially a sellout.

To acknowledge the event’s 40-year anniversary, there will be an awards night during the World’s Largest 19th Hole at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, when individuals, groups and companies that have been integral to the event’s success will be recognized.

“We’re going to do awards presentations to people or organizations who have really kept this event moving throughout the history of it,” Tomasello said.

“We’re going to do awards presentations to people or organizations who have really kept this event moving throughout the history of it.”

Tournament director Scott Tomasello

Demo Alley at the 19th Hole is returning after a hiatus and will feature equipment from Callaway, Wilson, TaylorMade and the golf ball OnCore, which has become a significant sponsor, plus a variety of products and brands from the PGA Tour Superstore.

Bands scheduled to perform in the 19th Hole ballroom are the East Coast Party Band on Monday and Thursday, Thomas Road’s high-octane country music on Tuesday, and the Band of Oz on Wednesday.

Former Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer and current Golf Channel show host Chantel McCabe will be the host emcees

A welcome party returns the Sunday night before the opening round at The Hangout at Broadway at The Beach. It is sponsored by Grand Strand Coastal Realty.

“The World Am is a tourism mechanism and it seems like – and this is a total observation – that a lot of these folks tend to buy second homes or tend to move here and become locals,” Tomasello said. “So it makes perfect sense for a sponsor like that.”

The World Am is operated by the tournament division of the Golf Tourism Solutions marketing and technology agency that promotes the Myrtle Beach Market.

GTS operates about a dozen tournaments along the Grand Strand each year, including an upcoming new event and a longstanding event it recently took over.

GTS took over management of the 40-year National Retired Military Classic this past May. It’s the second military/veterans event that GTS runs, as it has operated the Veterans Classic sponsored by Golf Buddy for more than 20 years.

A new girls high school invitational event will be held Sept. 16-17 at True Blue Golf Club. The Short Par 4 Girls Palmetto Tournament of Champions has no entry fee for the 12 participating teams because of the title sponsor’s contributions.

Ten of the teams are 2023 state champions from the Carolinas, while local schools Carolina Forest and Waccamaw will also participate. There will be both team and individual divisions, with many of the top girls players in the Carolinas not on those teams.

The tournament is essentially a female-version of the Palmetto High School Championship, which GTS has operated for many years.

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