On Grand Strand Golf: Approximately 500 volunteers sought for PGA PNC Championship

ablondin@thesunnews.comMarch 10, 2014 

Volunteer applications are being accepted for the PGA of America’s 2014 Professional National Championship, being played at the Grande Dunes Resort Course and The Dunes Golf and Beach Club from June 22-25.

The event will bring 312 of the top club and teaching pros from 41 PGA sections to compete for 20 spots in the $10 million PGA Championship, to be held at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., in August.

The first two competitive rounds will be held over both courses and The Dunes Club will host the final two rounds.

The 500 needed volunteers will cover approximately 1,200 shifts over six days and will be involved in all facets of the event including player-caddie registration, leaderboards, signage, walking scorers, marshals and other assorted duties.

Volunteer packages for the event cost $25 and include a uniform (hat and golf shirt), week-long access to the grounds and a daily lunch. Volunteers who sign up for three or more shifts will also receive a complimentary and transferrable round of golf. To request more information, email David Kullenberg at pncvolunteers@gmail.com.

GolfNow booted

According to Grand Strand Tee Time Network general manager Tracy Conner, GolfNow.com has stopped offering an exception to its traditional business model that has allowed it to do business with GSTTN courses, so it is essentially out of the Myrtle Beach golf market.

Only a handful of area courses are not members of the GSTTN, which utilizes the T-Links tee time reservation system.

GolfNow, which is affiliated with Golf Channel, generally works on the barter system to make a profit, offering technology and exposure to courses in exchange for tee times that it sells at a rate it determines.

In order to maintain the integrity of their pricing, Myrtle Beach courses have shunned that model. So for the past three years, according to Conner, GolfNow.com has agreed to sell tee times as a wholesaler in a similar manner as golf package providers in the Myrtle Beach market.

Conner said GolfNow.com stopped accepting that business model in January and is offering only its barter system, so only a few area courses that aren’t part of the GSTTN have tee times available on GolfNow.com.

“We are fortunate to have a web-based reservation market,” Conner said. “It has given us many advantages over the years.”

In December, 28 Strand courses, including 22 operated by National Golf Management, signed on with Play18 Solutions, a competitor of GolfNow.com that offers tee time bookings and marketing in its business model and allows courses to set their own rates.

Collegians competing

The Grand Strand is a hotbed for college golf this week as there are two men’s tournaments being held simultaneously in the area.

Coastal Carolina has its 13th annual General Hackler Championship at the TPC of Myrtle Beach, while Appalachian State is hosting its annual Bash at the Beach at the Surf Golf and Beach Club. Both events began with 36 holes Monday and will conclude with 18 Tuesday morning, and are open to spectators.

CCU’s Big South Conference brethren Liberty, Campbell and Gardner-Webb have players competing at the Surf Club, along with golfers from Alabama State, Bethune-Cookman, George Washington, Hampton, Greensboro College, Hartford, Jacksonville, James Madison, North Carolina Central, West Georgia, USC Upstate and Valparaiso.

Brown moves up

College of Charleston alumnus Paul Brown of Hartsville, a pupil of Alasdair Dyer of the Dyer Golf Academy at Barefoot Resort, was planning to play on the NGA Tour Pro Series, so his free tour membership is a bonus.

Brown’s win in the final NGA Tour Carolina Winter Series event at Aberdeen Country Club on Feb. 27 secured the winter series money title, which comes with membership on the larger and more lucrative Pro Series.

Brown finished 38th among 51 players in the season-opening Members Only Shootout from March 1-2 and finished 32nd at 1-under 283 in the opening full-field event last week at Spring Hill Country Club in Tifton, Ga., to earn $1,070.

In addition to Pro Series events, he intends to also play in Carolina Series summer events and regional Monday qualifiers for PGA and Web.com Tour events.

Soderberg a pro

Former Coastal Carolina standout Sebastian Soderberg has turned pro and is completing an internship as an instructor at the Dustin Johnson Golf School at the TPC of Myrtle Beach before he graduates with a degree in Exercise Sports Science on May 10.

He finished second to Paul Brown in the 2013-14 NGA Tour Carolina Winter Series finale at 8-under 208 to earn $1,740.

Soderberg holds the fifth-best season scoring average in Chants history at 72.28, behind three seasons by PGA Tour member Dustin Johnson and the 2008-09 season by Zack Byrd, and is just one of four Chants to be named an All-American, earning honorable mention honors in 2013 from Ping and the Golf Coaches Association of America.

He won a pair of college events, was the Big South Conference Golfer of the Year in 2013 and was a four-time All-Big South selection.

Soderberg narrowly missed qualifying for the European Palmer Cup Team as a senior. He returned to Sweden in June and played as an amateur throughout the summer before turning pro in the fall.

He played four events on the Nordic Golf League pro tour in Scandinavia and won two of those. “So it was a good start of my professional career,” Soderberg said.

Following his internship he’ll return to Sweden and the Nordic Golf League. A handful of the top finishers on the 2014 money list earn exempt status on the European Tour’s feeder Challenge Tour in 2015 and avoid the first stage of the European Tour Qualifying Tournament.

“It’s a pretty good tour to start on,” Soderberg said. “It pays pretty good money and has pretty inexpensive entry fees.

“… I always planned on playing here until they changed to the Web.com [Q-School]. Going to the European Tour first is still natural to me. Hopefully in the future I’ll play on the PGA Tour.”

Soderberg’s first overseas event in early April is a 26-player invitational in Thailand. “My game is good,” Soderberg said. “When I’m not working out here I’m practicing. That’s about all I do.”

Rules seminar set

Based on his brushes with the rules in 2013, even Tiger Woods could use a refresher on the Rules of Golf. Golfers on the Grand Strand have their chance next week.

The Carolinas Golf Association will hold a free USGA Rules of Golf Seminar from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on March 18 at the Members Club at Grande Dunes. Anyone is welcome to attend, though Woods is unlikely to make it.

This year’s series of seminars marks the 38th year the CGA has conducted the annual rules presentations. There are 15 scheduled in the Carolinas and attendees will view a narrated computer presentation on the basics of the Rules of Golf followed by a question and answer session.

Seminars typically last up to two hours. A free 2012-15 USGA Rules of Golf book will be distributed to all participants, and information on the Carolinas Golf Association will be available. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register online at www.carolinasgolf.org.

Pros on move

Cypress Bay Golf Club may be gone, but its pro remains. The course closed for planned redevelopment on Feb. 22, and head pro Bill Jones Jr., a former three-time ReMax World long drive competitor, has been hired nearly across the street as the new general manager/head pro at The Valley at Eastport in Little River.

Jones, 32, competed in the world long drive championship from 2006-08 and had been at Cypress Bay for five years. The Boston native won three Massachusetts long drive titles and one Florida crown.

He wants to increase promotions and add more package play to Eastport. “We want people to come, enjoy our course and feel totally at home,” Jones said.

After 13 years as a pro at the private DeBordieu Club in Georgetown, including the past 10 as the head pro, Shawn Roper has moved into real estate sales at DeBordieu Colony. Prior to DeBordieu, Roper spent four years at courses managed by Myrtle Beach National.

Matt Williams, Roper’s first assistant for the past nine years, has been named the new head pro. He previously worked at Wachesaw Plantation and Blackmoor Golf Club.

BMW a giving event

The Web.com Tour’s $650,000 BMW Charity Pro-Am, being played May 15-18 at three courses in the Greenville area, is accepting volunteer registration and selling tournament tickets.

Volunteer registration and ticket sales are two of the three risk-free programs that the tournament provides charities to earn funds. The third program is the selling of teams in the tournament’s one-day pro-am events.

The Volunteer Program gives individuals the opportunity to earn $20 per day for select tournament charity of their choice – there are 24 selected charities. Once charities reach 50 volunteer workdays, they receive a $2,500 bonus.

Volunteers can register at bmwcharitygolf.com. The volunteer fee is $40 until April 19 and $50 thereafter. The fee covers the volunteer’s uniform, credentials for the volunteer and a guest to attend the tournament, food and beverages during workdays, and the volunteer celebration.

The tournament has increased the return on ticket sales to 150 percent up to $10,000, and organizations will continue to receive 100 percent of sales above $10,000. Tickets eligible for the contribution include Daily ($10), Patron ($25) and Clubhouse ($50), all of which are available for purchase at bmwcharitygolf.com.

For more information about one-day pro-am teams, which cost $7,000 per foursome, contact Mike Ivester at mivester@sccharities.org.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.

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