A bevy of sports stars coming to Myrtle Beach for charity event

ablondin@thesunnews.comJuly 4, 2013 

— A virtual alphabet of sports stars is scheduled to participate in the sixth annual Know Your Score Celebrity Golf Tournament and Gala on Aug. 23-24, including Dr. J and the A-Train.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame members Julius Erving and Artis Gilmore are among an anticipated 30 or more celebrities – predominantly retired athletes – who are expected to take part in the event at the Grande Dunes Resort Course and Marina Inn.

Erving has committed to return for a second consecutive year and Gilmore, the all-time NBA leader in field goal percentage and NCAA Division I leader in rebounds per game, will be making his debut in the event.

Other celebrities who are committed to make their first appearances in the tournament include former heavyweight boxing contender Gerry Cooney, Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan and South Carolina Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers.

Players who have committed to return include Harlem Globetrotters legend Meadowlark Lemon, basketball hall of famer Sam Jones, former Buffalo Bills teammates Thurman Thomas and Cornelius Bennett, and past NFL defensive line stars Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Richard Dent, whose amateur team won the golf tournament last year.

“Everybody’s happy with the turnout,” said part-time Myrtle Beach resident and former NBA All-Star Gus Williams, who is in his third year as the event’s celebrity co-host, along with Mitch Laurance of Conway.

“Now we’re just trying to make it bigger and raise more money for prostate cancer research. Hopefully it will continue to grow and grow.”

A limited number of spots for four-player teams and tables at the gala are still available.

Williams, who splits his year between Myrtle Beach and his hometown of Mount Vernon, N.Y., scrapped plans for his own celebrity fundraiser on the Grand Strand in 2011 to join forces with Know Your Score.

His former NBA coach, Lenny Wilkens, whose 1,332 wins were once the most in NBA history, is committed to the event, as are former NBA players Charles Oakley, Junior Bridgeman, Kevin Grevey and Al Wood, a former teammate of Williams who played at North Carolina.

Other committed participants include golf long driver Shane Ferguson, musician Billy Mac, comedian Henry Cho, sports broadcaster John Patrick and women’s world billiards champion Ewa Mataya Laurance. Her husband, Mitch, is an actor, producer and ESPN billiards commentator who will serve as the gala’s master of ceremonies.

Athletes who have expressed an interest in playing and are trying to clear their schedules include Tony Womack, Brevin Knight and Sterling Sharpe.

Morgan and Gilmore were among players who were scheduled to play in 2011 but had travel plans disrupted by Hurricane Irene, which threatened to cancel the event altogether. Last year’s event went much more smoothly. “It was easy to get the people who played last year to confirm first,” Williams said.

A sellout is 30 teams with a celebrity for each, and though the tournament has sold out several years in a row, team entries are still available at $3,000 for a foursome and table for eight at the gala, or $2,500 for a foursome and table for four. Separate gala tickets are $1,500 for a table of eight.

The gala will feature a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres, dinner, Locker Room sports chat, Cho comedy performance and music by Mac. He has two CDs of golf songs called “Tee It Up” and “The Back Nine,” and some songs will be accompanied by video and/or backup singers called “The Birdies.”

The event benefits ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer, and has a goal of raising money and awareness and providing testing throughout the nation.

The Aug. 24 tournament has a 10:30 a.m. shotgun start and the Aug. 23 gala begins at 6:30 p.m. and is being held on the eve of the tournament rather than the night of the tournament for the first time. “It will be less of a really long day for everyone so it should work out well,” said ZERO event manager Amanda Jenkins, who has taken over as tournament director from Heath Carter, a Strand resident who was ZERO’s Director of Marketing and Communications but is no longer with the company.

The event was held at Pawleys Plantation for the past two years after three years at Long Bay Club and Kingston Plantation. The agreement with Grande Dunes is currently for just this year.

“We’re hoping this is the year it kicks it up a notch,” Laurance said. “Everybody involved sees it as a fantastic home for it. It has everything in one, centrally-located place.”

Laurance hopes participation warrants two courses in the near future, and Grande Dunes has two with the Resort Course and Members Club.

Organizers are considering allowing spectators at the tournament, but they are still forbidden. “That is something we want to explore in the future, but unfortunately it wasn’t a possibility for this year,” Jenkins said.

Know Your Score isn’t ZERO’s only involvement with golf. The ZERO Prostate Cancer Golf Series consists of 10 scramble tournaments in 2013 across the U.S. with the goal of raising awareness and funds in local communities.

The ZERO Prostate Cancer Drive is a national program featuring two RVs traveling around the country offering free Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests. The RVs came through the Strand this spring.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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