MURRELLS INLET — Pro Football Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith traveled to Myrtle Beach on Wednesday to make a round of golf memorable for three fans.
Seamus Enright gave Smith something to remember as well.
Enright, a friend of Chee Ng of Plano, Texas, who won a sweepstakes to join Smith with two guests for Wednesday’s round, made a hole-in-one on the TPC of Myrtle Beach’s fifth hole while playing alongside the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
Enright is from Limerick, Ireland, and benefitted from the fortuitous timing of his vacation to Texas. “I got really lucky,” said Enright, who holed an 8-iron from about 105 yards. He was the only member of Ng’s group who plays golf.
Ng is a Florida graduate who moved to the Dallas area about the time Smith was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys out of Florida in 1990. “He’s one of my heroes,” Ng said. “He’s one of the all-time greats coming out of the University of Florida.”
The Grand Strand generally hosts a few rounds a year with celebrities joined by sweepstakes winners.
Marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday sponsored two online sweepstakes this year to play golf with PGA Tour winner Dustin Johnson and Symetra LPGA Futures Tour member and Myrtle Beach Golf Buzz host Blair O’Neal.
In the past few years, radio and online contests have offered opportunities to meet football announcer and former quarterback Boomer Esiason, and play with former athletes L.C. Greenwood, Darren Daulton, Dan Hampton, Drew Barry and Kevin Butler, and Golf Channel announcer and former PGA Tour member Charlie Rymer.
“We don’t have as much of that as we used to,” Golf Holiday communications director Chris King said. “There was a time we did it quite a bit.”
Smith, who won three Super Bowls and rushed for 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns in the NFL, was making his first visit to Myrtle Beach. The sweepstakes was sponsored by Academy Sports + Outdoors, a sports and outdoor lifestyle retailer that Smith represents.
“It’s not necessarily about playing golf,” Smith said. “It’s about having the experience of enjoying the people you want to be around, and enjoying a person like myself, playing a little golf and having a little fun.”
Smith says he’s about a 12 handicap – sometimes shooting in the low 80s and occasionally approaching 100 – and plays about once a week in the Dallas area. He is a member at the TPC Craig Ranch and Stonebriar Country Club, and also plays regularly at Prestonwood Country Club. He’s playing in the 23rd American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe, Calif., next week.
“Anywhere there’s a good golf course I try to get on it,” Smith said. “My golf game is not that bad. I hit the ball better than I score. Unfortunately that’s the repercussions of not playing a lot of golf on a daily basis. This is not going to be my profession. I don’t want to work that hard on trying to get that much better.”
Smith’s body has held up well since he retired in 2004. He said he’s had no post-football surgeries.
“I’ve made it a point not to do things that are too extreme,” Smith said. “I don’t play basketball. I don’t ski. I don’t do none of those things that could put me in harm’s way. If I’m just playing golf and something happens, then something happens that way. But for the most part I’m not doing a whole lot of strenuous stuff. I’m only 43 years old, so I’m still holding up pretty good right now.”
Smith expects to return to the Strand in the near future. He’s been approached about taking part in the annual Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am at Barefoot Resort, and hopes to participate soon.
“I’ve had conflicts just about every year, so I’m trying to get enough [planning] well in advance so I can make one of their next tournaments,” Smith said. “… I’ve been trying to make it work for the longest. I just need to commit to coming and put it on the calendar way in advance and just make it happen.”
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.