In addition to family and turkey, Thanksgiving on the Grand Strand also means junior golf, and this holiday weekend will mark the 44th consecutive year the George Holliday Memorial Junior will be played in the area.
A total of 228 players from 13 states and Canada are competing in the 54-hole event Thursday through Saturday on the three courses at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club, which will utilize two layouts per day.
The boys 14-18 age division sold out quickly at 128 players, and all of them are eligible for the overall championship. The girls champion will be one of approximately 50 golfers in the girls 15-18 age group. The tournament also features six divisions for younger players.
The Holliday has a storied history. Past champions include PGA Tour members D.J. Trahan and Lucas Glover, Clemson men’s golf coach Larry Penley, former Ohio State golfer and Conway native Curt Sanders, former South Carolina Gamecock George Bryan IV, and Zack Byrd of Murrells Inlet, a member of the Web.com Tour, who won the Holliday twice.
Through the mid-2000s, players of any gender and age could win the title despite differing yardages played. The older boys will be playing between 6,400 and 6,600 yards each day, while the older girls will play approximately 5,700 yards each day.
Reigning boys champion Jonathan Hardee, 16, of Greer, is returning to defend his crown, and 2011 girls champion Jessica Provasnik, 17, of Hinckley, Ohio, is also scheduled to return.
The tournament has a 9 a.m. shotgun start each day. Golf Academy of America students assisting with rules and pace of play issues such as locating balls, etc. “We’re trying to do things to help players get around the course better,” said tournament coordinator and MB National head pro Rick Schultz.
“Next year I might look to do a double tee with times and announce each player as they tee off,” Shultz added. “I’ll map it out this year and see if we can make that work.”
Schultz is taking over tournament coordinator duties from former MB National pro Michael Burnside, who ran the event for more than a decade before being moved by National Golf Management to run Long Bay Club and Aberdeen Country Club.
Schultz hosted the American Junior Golf Association’s Myrtle Beach Junior Classic for several years at Myrtlewood Golf Club in the 1990s, and was moved from Myrtlewood within the National Golf Management stable of courses to MB National at the same time Burnside switched positions.
Grand Strand boys between the ages of 14-18 competing include Myrtle Beach residents Lyle Ciardi, Thomas Garavito, Mark Karavan, Kohler Karavan, Hector Gutierrez and Luis Ruiz, Vijay Mishra of North Myrtle Beach, Jonathan Stanley of Conway, Davis Gage of Murrells Inlet, and Chase Johnson and Johnson Holliday of Galivants Ferry.
Holliday is a relative of the tournament’s namesake, who was a S.C. High School state champion and was a plus-1 handicap on the Wofford College team at the time of his death from an automobile accident in 1967.
The girls 15-18 division includes Jasmine Chestnut and Cameron Crutchfield of Myrtle Beach, Alexa Falvey of Murrells Inlet and Ashley Sloup of Southport, N.C.
Tilghman on tap
The 23rd Charles Tilghman Junior Championship will be played at its customary time two weeks after the Holliday, on Dec. 8-9 at The Surf Golf and Beach Club.
The field is closed at 96 players, and annually fills up within 48 hours of being open in early September. There is a waiting list of nearly 50 players.
The tournament is run by the Carolinas Section of the PGA of America, and only players from the Carolinas ages 13-18 are eligible to compete. All boys will play approximately 6,680 yards and all girls will play approximately 5,600 yards.
It appears neither reigning champion will be defending this year. Boys champion Michael Hocker of Chapel Hill, N.C. is a freshman on the Liberty University golf team and is not eligible to compete, and three-time winner McKenzie Talbert, 17, of North Augusta is not registered to seek a record fourth consecutive Tilghman title.
Keenan Huskey of Greenville, who won the Carolinas PGA Junior Championship in July at the Hackler Course at Coastal Carolina, is among the favorites this year.
Strand residents scheduled to compete include Ryan Case, Zachary Hickman, Holliday, Johnson, the Karavans, Mishra, Cole Swezey, Crutchfield, Madison Elliott, Bailey Richardson and Kelli Smith.
Past boys champions include Trahan, Byrd twice, Bryan and Conway native Justin Roof.
Past girls champions include LPGA member Kristy McPherson of Conway, Aynor native Ann Maness, Austin Ernst, who won the 2011 NCAA Championship as a freshman at LSU, and Arkansas women’s golf coach Shauna Estes-Taylor, who won three Tilghman titles.
Access to the semi-private Dunes Golf and Beach Club will be a little more limited as of Jan. 1.
More than 50 hotels currently have the ability to book package rounds on the course, but that number is being cut significantly as the privilege is reverting back to the properties that hold stock in the 64-year-old club.
Those include Brittain Resort Management and MyrtleBeachGolf.com properties Dunes Village Resort, The Caribbean Resort & Villas and The Breakers Resort, as well as Vacation Myrtle Beach Resorts’ 13 properties featuring The Caravelle, Captain’s Quarters, Landmark Resort and Ocean Creek Resort.
The Caravelle and Breakers were among the hotels that bought stock in the earlier days of the club to send golfers, with the amount of stock correlating to the property’s number of rooms. More hotels became involved as the club sought to sell more outside tee times.
“When they couldn’t fill up The Dunes Club, it was a mutual agreement to bring in other hotel properties,” said Matthew Brittain, a managing partner of Brittain Resort Management. “… It’s an effort to try to meet the needs of The Dunes Club. The members rule and really say how many times are available and under what circumstances.”
Brittain said his properties will allow other hotels to book rounds at The Dunes Club when supply warrants it, though his hotels will handle the booking and make a profit for their exclusive rights.
“We’re responsible for all the times, so we’ll be able to control those times,” Brittain said. “If one of our competitors calls me and wants to send golfers to The Dunes Club, I’m going to book them at The Dunes Club. But it will have to flow through those hotels.”
The other Vacation Myrtle Beach Resorts properties are the Beach Cove, Sea Watch, Beach Colony, Hotel Blue, Forest Dunes, Carolina Winds, Palms Resort, South Wind and Palace Resort.
The properties have an overlap of ownership groups, with the Creel, Conrad and Johnston families representing the ownerships of all the properties.
Shortened and sweet
The 2012 John Deere Golf World Championship was held on three National Golf Management courses this past weekend, though it was shortened from 54 to 36 holes.
The tournament, played at the Grande Dunes Resort Course, Members Club and Pine Lakes Country Club, annually brings together more than 200 golf industry professionals from across the world for a four person-team captain’s choice competition, networking and camaraderie.
Teams from China, Sweden and Australia participated.
Thursday’s round was delayed and eventually canceled, and teams played Friday and Saturday.
Jones wins again
Gene Jones of Orlando, a staple on the Grand Strand-based Cancun Sunbelt Senior Tour for more than three years, won the Champions Tour Qualifying Tournament for the second time in six years.
Jones won by three shots over rookie Jeff Brehaut of California on Friday with a 13-under-par 275 total to lead five players earning exempt status on the 2013 Champions Tour.
Jones was the leading money winner on the Sunbelt Tour for three consecutive years (2005-07) and won 21 tour events in that time. He is fourth on the all-time Sunbelt Tour money list with nearly $150,000 earned, behind Jim Chancey of Winter Haven, Fla., Rocky Rockett of Gastonia, N.C., and John Ross of Bramwell, W.Va. Jones won the S.C. Senior Open at Tidewater Golf Club three times.
Jones shared Q-School medalist honors with Rick Rhoden in 2007. He finished in the top 30 on the Champions money list in both 2008 and ’09, but he suffered from kidney stones in 2010 and seldom played in 2011 and 2012.
The other three full qualifiers Friday were Mark Mouland of Kenilworth, England, Jim Rutledge of British Columbia, Canada, and John Riegger of Henderson, Nev.
Mouland played sparingly this year on the Sunbelt, including The Patriot Invitational in late September in Pinehurst, N.C., where he failed to get out of a bunker after a few shots on his opening hole in the second round, picked up and withdrew – a far cry from his play last week.
Several other current or former Sunbelt members finished in the top 30 at Q-School to be exempt into Champions Tour Monday qualifiers and bypass pre-qualifiers.
In its 17th year, the Sunbelt has expanded the geography of its schedule but still had three events in the Carolinas on the 2012 slate, including an event in August at River Hills Golf & Country Club in Little River. The tour is operated by Don Barnes of Longs.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284. To view Blondin’s blog, Green Reading, or Twitter page visit myrtlebeachonline.com.