On Grand Strand Golf: Myrtle Beach-area golf show airing second season

ablondin@thesunnews.comApril 22, 2013 

The second season of the “SeasideGolf.com Presents: Myrtle Beach” television show promoting the Grand Strand golf market is being filmed and aired.

The Pearl general manager Bryan Thomas is the host of each 30-minute episode, and producer Bobby Vermillion and his V TV Productions film crew travel from Ocean City, Md., to film them.

Vermillion is a host of “Endless Golf,” a similar show in Ocean City.

SeasideGolf.com Presents: Myrtle Beach is available through Comcast predominantly in the Northeast and Mid Atlantic. Thomas said the show is also available on Direct TV’s sports package.

During each episode, the host course is highlighted, and packages and sponsor Seaside Golf Vacations based in North Myrtle Beach are promoted. A two-minute tip from a local pro from the featured course is also included.

The show airs every week, and Thomas said each show will run for three weeks. About 15 courses were featured in 2012 including The Dunes Golf and Beach Club.

The plan is to have 17 filmed per year, and Thomas and Vermillion are already through shows nine and 10 for 2013.

This year, Carolina National, Sandpiper Bay, Oyster Bay, Legends Resort, Crow Creek, The Pearl, Blackmoor and River Club are among the featured courses.

Show branching out

Seaside Golf’s television show has spawned an amateur golf tour called the Endless Golf Amateur Tour on the Shore, as well as a magazine titled Endless Golf.

The tour’s first event was held on March 2 at The Pearl and had about 40 participants. The next event is at Crow Creek on May 11, and events are scheduled to follow at Sandpiper Bay in June, Tiger’s Eye in July and Indigo Creek in August.

Courses that host a TV show episode become eligible to host an amateur tour event.

The free magazine markets the tour. Thomas expects to distribute the magazine to area hotels and courses as well as golf shops at courses in select drive markets, welcome centers and other advantageous locations.

“It’s a marketing plan we’ve put together with TV and the magazine to sponsor a tour and golf courses,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to draw as many people to Myrtle Beach as we can. It helps everybody to get people here.”

The tour doesn’t have a membership fee and events are $75 each. Points are earned and point leaders in each handicap-based division win free trips to Ocean City to play in the tour championship there. Handicap divisions are 0-5, 6-11, 12-20 and 21-36, and there is a senior division for 60 and over golfers playing senior tees.

One woman played in the first event, and a women’s division could be created depending on the amount of interest.

Interested players can contact Thomas at tarheelmanbryan@gmail.com. The website endlessgolfmag.com is partially constructed.

Maness back on bag

Galivants Ferry native and Greenville resident Michael Maness is back to traveling on the PGA Tour as a caddie. He has been caddying for third-year tour member Kevin Chappell and plans to at least complete the year with him.

Maness gave playing competitively another shot in 2012. He played well into the summer and Monday qualified into a PGA Tour event, but he didn’t make it through PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament pre-qualifying and opted to return to looping on tour.

The Aynor High grad and former South Carolina player caddied nearly three years on the PGA Tour through the 2011 season, primarily for Bill Haas, and has tried to play sporadically since leaving USC.

“I played well early last year and didn’t get through Q-School,” Maness said. “I’m 32 going on 33 and I’ve been at it for awhile. It just kind of wore me down. I’m not tired of playing, but I’m tired of being in the same position at the end of every year.

“I haven’t played a whole lot of golf recently. I’m just kind of taking a break right now. I’m not sure with [the playing career]. I don’t have any thoughts really right now.”

Though he’s not particularly well known, especially on the East Coast, Chappell has some serious credentials and ability. The California native and resident won the NCAA individual and team championships at UCLA in 2008, when he received the 2008 Jack Nicklaus Award as the top male collegiate player. He won six times in college, including three as a senior when he was named the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year.

He has made only seven of 11 cuts this year. But he’s played well when he’s made the weekend, recording finishes of sixth in the Shell Houston Open, eighth in the Humana Challenge – where he carded a final-round 62, 15th in the Valero Texas Open and 24th in the Waste Management Phoenix Open to earn more than $500,000.

He missed the cut at this past week’s Heritage with a 4-over 72-74–146 after catching the wrong end of Friday’s weather draw and playing in strong wind.

Chappell, who worked with instructor Nick Bradley of Sunset Beach, N.C., for parts of 2010 and 2011, had an impressive rookie year on the PGA Tour in 2011 with a playoff loss in the Texas Open and ties for third in the U.S. Open and season-ending Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. He had a sophomore slump in 2012 with one top-10 in 29 events – a tie for 10th at the U.S. Open – and less than $650,000 earned. Maness began caddying for him late in the season.

Chappell graduated to the PGA Tour from the Web.com Tour by finishing ninth on the 2010 Web.com money list with a win and seven top-10s.

“He’s really talented and I enjoy working for him,” Maness said. “He’s a super nice guy. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. It’s been fun. I enjoy caddying. I enjoy being out here.”

Maness is also a partner with Thornblade Club member Bill Silva in a fairly new golf product called Cradlz (Cradlz.com) – its name was recently changed from CamCaddy.

It is an adjustable device that connects to an alignment stick and secures any smart phone to allow players to video their golf swing or putting stroke. It eliminates the need for a tripod for filming, and the video can be emailed to a teacher for instruction or used by the player individually.

A number of PGA Tour players endorse and use the product, and Maness serves as the company’s tour rep.

“[Caddying] still keeps me around golf and the business keeps me around golf, so it seems like I’m always somewhere intertwined with golf, which is nice,” Maness said.

Heritage benefits locals

The Heritage Foundation, which operates the $5.8 million RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island and raises money for charity through the PGA Tour event, announced earlier this year that it would be expanding its area of giving in the state.

The Ashley G Charitable Foundation of Pawleys Island is one of the new beneficiaries.

“They sent us a thing in the mail and I got all excited, I thought we were all signed up,” said Ashley G Foundation founder and president David Gaines of Pawleys Island. But foundation executives had to apply via the internet and wait to be accepted, which they were.

It is benefitting through Birdies for Charity. Gaines expects it to raise at least $2,000 in their first year of involvement, with the potential for a lot more in the future. “That’s a good start,” Gaines said. “We’re proud of it.”

People can pledge a designated amount to support players or the Heritage tournament for the number of birdies made that week, and the Heritage Foundation matches 20 percent. In 2012 there were 1,223 birdies made at the Heritage. One-time pledges are also accepted.

The foundation is named after Gaines’ daughter, Ashley, who died in June 2008 of large b cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Ashley Gaines was a high school tennis player who helped Waccamaw High win three state tennis titles.

Gaines said the foundation raises money for cancer research, Georgetown Hospital and the Medical University of South Carolina oncology projects, Christmas gifts and handmade blankets for children in pediatric oncology wards, and families of cancer victims.

“That’s really rewarding for us because it’s a real financial strain on families,” Gaines said. “It’s not only emotional but it’s financially draining.”

The fundraising Ashley G Invitational golf tournament is Oct. 15 at the Reserve Club in Pawleys Island, and will include a memorabilia silent auction and sales of handmade merchandise.

Gaines and foundation chief executive officer David Gundling were acquiring merchandise at the RBC Heritage this past week from Tommy Gainey and others, and Reserve Club member Jay Haas has a provided a flag signed by the U.S. Presidents Cup team.

The tournament entry fee was $150 last year and hasn’t been determined this year, and will likely include FootJoy Sport golf shoes among participant gifts. The tournament has probably averaged $45,000 raised per year through its first four occurrences, Gaines said.

Gaines said the charity has raised approximately $250,000 since its inception in 2008.

Former Waccamaw High girls tennis coach James Brown does an annual bike road across parts of the U.S. to raise money for the foundation, and this year plans to bike from The Florida Keys to Myrtle Beach.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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