On Grand Strand Golf: Mike & Mike show returning to Hootie tournament

ablondin@thesunnews.comJanuary 14, 2013 

The Mike & Mike in the Morning show is becoming a staple of the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club.

The popular sports talk show, which airs weekdays from 6-10 a.m. on ESPN Radio and the ESPN2 television network, will broadcast live from the event for the third consecutive year on April 15.

Thousands of spectators have taken in the show around the Dye Club’s first tee in each of the past two years prior to the start of the Hootie golf tournament.

Show hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic are returning through a one-year contract with marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, which sponsors and helps operate the Hootie event.

“Having Mike & Mike at Monday After the Masters has really elevated the level of awareness and exposure not only for the event but more importantly for Myrtle Beach,” Golf Holiday president Bill Golden said. “I feel like it has become a tradition.”

Golden is hoping at least one of the hosts will play in the tournament but hasn’t received a commitment yet.

Greenberg and Golic typically have a few athletes, celebrities or musicians on the air as guests within hours of their participation in the Hootie tournament and/or post-tournament concert at the House of Blues.

“The first year you’re nervous because you’re not sure how it’s going to work logistically and promotionally for us,” Golden said. “But it works so well, the timing of them being on the air and timing of the event after the Masters when there’s a lot of attention on golf.”

An advertising package promoting Myrtle Beach golf and Mike & Mike’s appearance at the tournament includes 21 live 60-second on-air reads by Greenberg and/or Golic, 52 recorded 60-second reads, 45 15-second commercials and 114 5-second mentions.

The spots just began airing and will continue through mid-March. They promote several things including a sweepstakes to win spots in the MAM tournament, Myrtle Beach golf in general, spring vacation packages and individual golf courses.

The on-air spots are being complemented by an online program consisting primarily of banner ads promoting the MAM sweepstakes.

Golden said hosting Mike & Mike has proven to be beneficial through increased Golf Holiday website traffic, leads and exposure.

“Having them come on live from one of our showcase events is fantastic,” Golden said. “Regarding exposure, we get in front of people that haven’t been exposed to us. … I can’t think of anything we’ve ever done that has had that impact.”

The Dye Club is hosting Hootie’s 19-year pro-am for the 11th consecutive year. It was previously held in Columbia and Kiawah Island.

Blanks sidelined

Former Grand Strand resident Kris Blanks is still opting for physical therapy sessions rather than surgery for a shoulder injury, and he’s hoping to make his 2013 PGA Tour season debut in the Waste Management Phoenix Open from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3.

The physical therapy on what he believes is a labrum issue in his left shoulder didn’t get the results he was hoping for in the past month and he had to pull out of last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii and this week’s Humana Challenge in California.

Blanks said on Twitter that if he can’t play in Phoenix he’ll have surgery because the shoulder isn’t responding well and he doesn’t want to continue taking medication to play.

“I’m just easing my way into the season and seeing what I’m capable of doing,” Blanks said Monday in a text message.

The 40-year-old who lived in Myrtle Beach from 1996-2002 did not play on the PGA Tour after July last year because of the shoulder, though he tied for fourth in the 2012 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament despite the injury to retain PGA Tour membership for a fifth consecutive year.

He was granted four starts in 2013 on a medical extension to earn $257,451 and improve his status, which is subject to a reshuffle as a Q-School graduate. He may end up seeking another medical exemption in 2014 if he doesn’t play much this season.

Sunbelt back on Strand

For the first time in three years, the Strand-based Cancun Sunbelt Senior Tour will actually have a tournament on the Strand in 2013 – two in fact.

The 25-event schedule includes the North Carolina Senior Open from Aug. 5-8 at Brunswick Plantation in Calabash, N.C., and the Myrtle Beach Match Play from Aug. 12-15 at River Hills Golf & Country Club in Little River.

Other events are scheduled to be played in Bermuda, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Virginia.

The last Sunbelt event in the area was the South Carolina Senior Open at Long Bay Club in 2010. It moved there for one year after being a principal event on tour for several years at Tidewater Plantation.

“I think this year’s schedule works a little better,” said Sunbelt Tour founder and commissioner Don Barnes of Longs. “I’d like to have some more tournaments around here. As we get a better quality of player and consistent tournaments it’s easier for me to convince people we’ve got a quality product.”

Barnes is committed to having tournaments in the area but is still seeking sponsors for the two this year and is in the process of choosing local charities to support, primarily through pre-tournament pro-ams.

In the River Hills match play event, Barnes intends on having 32 players in senior match play and 16 in a supersenior division. A pro-am on the first day would serve as a seeding round. Barnes anticipates offering a guaranteed $5,000 check for the match play winner.

He’s meeting Wednesday with representatives of the First Tee of Brunswick County to discuss the organization being the beneficiary of the pro-am at Brunswick Plantation.

Sunbelt Tour membership for players 45 and older is $750, membership for a series of generally three or four events is $250 and individual events cost $550, though two majors are $700. At least two or three tournaments with sponsor support have $10,000 guaranteed first place payouts.

Entering its 17th year, Barnes said the tour has paid out more than $4.3 million in purses and raised more than $2 million for local charities. Javier Sanchez of Fayetteville, Ga., was the tour’s leading 2012 money winner with $34,644 out of a $415,891 in purses, and was one of five players earning more than $25,000.

A large European contingent has already joined for 2013 including past Ryder Cup participants Barry Lane and Paul Broadhurst of England. Other European Senior Tour members include Marc Farry of France, Mark Mouland of Wales and Graham Banister of Australia.

Some international Sunbelt participants have recruited other overseas players. “I think when it’s all done we’ll end up with eight to 10 players from Europe playing in our first series,” Barnes said.

The Sunbelt season tees off with the Feb. 25-28 Suntree Challenge at Suntree Country Club in Melbourne, Fla.

Whitty to perform

The Sunbelt events should include Strand resident and trick shot artist John Whitty, who has been contracted to perform at the tour’s pro-ams this year to “spice things up a little bit,” Barnes said.

Whitty is an eight-year Air Force veteran who turned professional in 1988. He has been performing trick shot exhibitions for over 20 years and is a two-time National Long Drive quarterfinalist. He has previously performed for corporate outings, First Tee programs, PGA Tour pro-ams and Sunbelt events.

His playing career includes stints on the Coastal Carolina, Hooters, Teardrop, Powerbuilt and Tommy Armour tours, and he won the 1988 New England Open.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284. To view Blondin’s blog, Green Reading, or Twitter page visit myrtlebeachonline.com.

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