On Grand Strand Golf: Pace of play won’t be issue with Speed Golf event

ablondin@thesunnews.comMay 12, 2014 

One of the primary complaints about the game of golf is the pace of play and amount of time it takes to complete a round.

LPGA teaching pro and National Golf Management spokesperson Meredith Kirk has an answer for that.

She is hosting the Speed Golf Summer Race at 1 p.m. on June 21 at Blackmoor Golf Club. The tournament is open to all ages and is a two-person team effort in which one person runs and plays and a partner caddies. A player’s combined strokes and minutes is their final score. Only six clubs are used and pins remain in the cup.

“The great thing about Speed Golf is it only takes about an hour and a half to play 18 holes, and that’s pretty cool,” said Kirk, who regularly jogs. “I’m just kind of combining the two things I love.”

Through early registration on June 8, the entry fee for nine holes is $45 and for 18 holes is $55 and includes a T-shirt and food from Chick-fil-A. Players must register in advance and the event will be held rain or shine. Entry forms are at several area golf equipment retail stores including Golfsmith, PGA Tour Superstore, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Akers Discount Golf, and online registation is available at www.JuniorGolfExchange.org. Tee Times will be posted on the site and available at Blackmoor at 3 p.m. on June 17.

The top six teams in both the 9- and 18-hole competitions will earn prizes, and there will be closest-to-the-pin and long-drive prizes.

Kirk has a strategy for interested players. “When all else fails, run fast,” she said.

Kirk, who is the reigning Mrs. South Carolina, said a few surprise guests may take part and there is a possibility Golf Channel, which will have a film crew on the Grand Strand for the PGA Professional National Championship from June 22-25, may venture over to Blackmoor and provide media exposure.

“Like with any new concept I’m going into it with some caution,” Kirk said. “This is an experiment with the Speed Golf concept and we’re hoping for success.”

Kirk contacted the president of Speedgolf International to get information and has become long-distance friends with the reigning Speedgolf world champion Rob Hogan of Ireland, who won the 2013 title at Bandon Dunes in Oregon.

All proceeds from the Speed Golf event will benefit the Junior Golf Exchange, a program created by Kirk that provides clubs free of charge at participating golf courses and facilities to junior golfers ages 14 and younger through club donations and purchases through the program.

The program has expanded 10 states and has 16 participating courses in South Carolina. “It’s gaining momentum,” Kirk said. “So far, so good.”

Hall seeking nominations

Nominations are being accepted through May 30 for the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame’s 2014 induction class.

The induction ceremony will be held Aug. 24 at the Hall of Fame Garden at Pine Lakes Country Club.

Last year’s inductees were Ed Jerdon and Casper Benton, joining previous inductees J. Bryan Floyd, J. Egerton Burroughs, Charlie Byers, Paul Himmelsbach, Gary Schaal, George ‘Buster’ Bryan, Cecil Brandon, Clay Brittain, Carolyn Cudone, Jimmy D’Angelo, Robert White and General James Hackler.

Nominations can be made at http://themyrtlebeachgolfhalloffame.com/nominations. They first go through a board member, and the board is comprised of Brandon, Jerdon, David Durant, John Springs and Jack Himmelsbach.

The Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame was created in 2008 to recognize people who have made an indelible mark on the Myrtle Beach golf industry, and the first induction ceremony was held in 2009.

Nominees must be current or former residents of the Strand’s Horry, Georgetown or Brunswick counties, can be living or deceased, and will be considered from a number of categories including player, instructor, architect, superintendent, owner, management group and volunteer.

Nomination forms remain active for five years.

Military-related events

With Memorial Day approaching, military-related golf events on the Grand Strand are nearing.

The 15th annual 54-hole Veterans Golf Classic hosted by Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday will be played on 12 courses next Monday through Wednesday on 12 area courses.

There are 428 golfers registered from 35 states, including players from every American war and conflict from War World II to the present.

Registration on Sunday includes a happy hour reception with hors d'ourves. The 12 courses hosting the event are Burning Ridge, Farmstead, Founders Club, Hackler Course, Man O'War, Panther's Run, River Hills, River Oaks, Sandpiper Bay, Shaftesbury Glen, Wicked Stick and Wachesaw Plantation East.

The tournament is a two-person team event featuring formats of best ball, combined net team score and captain’s choice scramble. Players are placed into one of four flights based on their handicap. The flights are named Eisenhower, Nimitz, Franks and MacArthur.

There are also a pair of tournaments within the tournament.

The Carolina Cup pits members of the American Legion against members of the VFW, and the Branch Challenge determines which brand of the service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard – has the best golfers.

Post-round activities each night are highlighted by the awards banquet at Crown Reef Resort.

The 31st annual National Retired Military Golf Classic will be played May 28-31 at Pine Lakes Country Club, Myrtlewood Golf Club’s PineHills course and Myrtle Beach National’s SouthCreek and West layouts.

Approximately 800 players are expected. Teams consist of four players of different abilities according to handicaps. Men play four rounds and women play three. The entry fee is $295 for men and $250 for women and includes awards, prizes, drawings, a golf shirt, hat or visor, party, and choice of a meal gift certificate or ticket to Alabama Theatre.

A valid military ID card and handicap index card are required. Visit oceanaresorts.com, email NRMGC@oceanaresorts.com or call 877-840-8464 for information.

Firefighters have their own event, as well. The third annual Myrtle Beach Never Forgets Memorial Golf Outing coincides with the Veterans Golf Classic, with a kickoff party next Monday and tournament rounds Tuesday and Wednesday. The event honors firefighters and is for firefighters, their friends and supporters. A total of 26 courses are participating. Players can arrive on May 18 for practice rounds at special prices.

The outing raises money for the Firefighters Cancer Support Network, which provides assistance to firefighters and their family members dealing with cancer. The entry fee is $205 for golfers and $115 for non-golfers. Visit myrtlebeachneverforgets.com or call 877-411-3369 to register or for more information.​

Optimist junior opportunities

The South Carolina District of Optimist International is giving junior golfers across the state an opportunity to earn an expenses-paid trip to participate in the prestigious Optimist International Junior Golf Championships from July 19-29 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Winners of the oldest boys and girls age brackets in the Optimist International S.C. District Golf Tournament from May 31-June 1 at Black Bear Golf Club in Longs will earn the trips, and any remaining funds from the tournament will be put toward expenses for winners of the young age divisions.

The S.C. event is open to any junior in the state. The age divisions are: Boys 10-11, 12-13, 14-15 and 16-18; and Girls 10-12, 13-14 and 15-18. Each winner must shoot qualifying scores to advance to the Florida finals, however, beginning at 12-over 156 for the oldest boys and 170 for the oldest girls.

The entry fee for the two-day Black Bear tournament is $150. The tournament has a 100-player limit and walk-up entrants will be accepted if the tournament is not full.

The S.C. Optimist club will cover expenses to the Florida tournament for at least the Boys 16-18 and Girls 15-18 winners, including a $650 entry fee, accommodations, food and gas.

Visit www.optimistsc.org to enter, and visit www.optimist.org/e/juniorgolf/optimist11.cfm for more information on the finals. Contact tournament co-chairs John Grover at jgrover@sc.rr.com or 843-251-9602, or Melissa Basehoar at MBasehoar@frontier.com or 843-281-9500 with questions.

At PGA National, different age groups play on different dates from July 19-28. Past Optimist International champions include Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Lorena Ochoa.

BMW changes celebs

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, his wife Janet and son Ty are among the last celebrities who committed to play in the Web.com Tour’s $650,000 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation, being played Thursday through Sunday at three courses in the Greenville area.

Other late commitments include actors Gregory Itzin (a cast member of “24”), Rob Morrow (“Numb3rs”), Frankie Muñiz (“Malcolm in the Middle”) and Richard Schiff (“The West Wing”).

Due to schedule conflicts, the following celebrities have had to withdraw from the event: Anthony Anderson, Catherine Bell, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Kelley and Greg Kinnear. The changes bring the total celebrity count to 27.

Upstate South Carolina professionals Daniel Bowden, Corbin Mills, Crawford Reeves and Kyle Thompson are playing via sponsor exemptions, while other Upstate area pros Matt Bettencourt, Justin Bolli, Matt Davidson and Matt Hendrix are participating as Web.com Tour members.

High definition tournament coverage will air on Golf Channel from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 7-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, giving the event primetime coverage for the first time.

To view Blondin's blog, Green Reading, or Twitter page, @alanblondin, visit myrtlebeachonline.com.

Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 843-626-0284.

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