An amateur golf tour with an international presence will begin its first season on the Grand Strand this month.
The Carolinas chapter of the World Amateur Golfers Tour ( www.wgatusa.com) kicks off a 14-event 2015 schedule with a tournament March 15 at International World Tour Golf Links. The schedule runs through the Carolinas championship Aug. 29 at the Barefoot Resort Dye Club.
The tour is in 45 countries and has existed for two decades but has been in the U.S. only a couple years. It was started by four-time Sweden Olympic Hockey Team member Sven Tumba, saying he wanted to give an Olympic-type experience to average golfers.
Other Strand courses hosting events include Glen Dornoch, Sandpiper Bay, True Blue, Caledonia, Wachesaw Plantation East, Crow Creek, TPC Myrtle Beach, Carolina National, Rivers Edge and the Grande Dunes Resort Course. Another pair of North Carolina events are scheduled in the Wilmington and Fayetteville areas.
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Tour membership is $189 and includes a gift package, and tournament fees are generally between $100 and $150 per event. Players can compete as non-members for an additional $20 per event. Interested players can contact tour director Shan Coughlin at 843-685-2867 or email@example.com.
One World Amateur Golfers Tour event was held in Myrtle Beach last year but the tour never got off the ground.
Other chapters exist in Mississippi, Florida, California, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Maryland and New Jersey. “It’s growing,” Coughlin said.
Players with handicaps of 0-25 are eligible and will compete for prizes and points throughout the year in up to five flights. The Carolinas chapter will crown a points champion as well as a player of the year based on money won in optional side games, and both will have free entry into the national championship Sept. 24-26 at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in Delaware, Pa. The player of the year will also have hotel and travel expenses paid.
Optional side games are $100 per event, including $50 for Stableford scoring, $25 skins and $25 front nine/back nine.
The five flight winners at the U.S. national championship will have expenses paid to represent the U.S. in the 72-hole world final in December in the Mediterranean coastal town of Belek, Turkey.
Golfers who played in any WAGT event can enter the national finals for $750. The nationals will also feature a team competition between chapters.
A handful of players have joined and Coughlin believes the Carolinas chapter will be viable in its first year with at least eight players per event. Gross champions will be crowned in events with at least 11 players and 34 players are needed for five full flights. “We anticipate it being fun and people getting addicted to it,” Coughlin said. “We’re looking to grow it.”
She hopes to eventually split the tour into separate chapters for N.C. and S.C., then regions within those states.
Golf Director far-reaching
The WAGT Carolinas tour is owned by The Golf Director (www.theGolfdirector.com), a Strand-based internet golf marketing and vacation package company with a multimedia entertainment network component. It creates its own digital radio and television shows and streams them both live and on demand.
Coughlin is the radio host and sales and marketing director for The Golf Director, which is beginning its third year and has related racing (racersreunion.com) and beach music (ShagCityUSA.com) networks. Coughlin said the ShagCity site has 3.5 million interactions per month. Tennessee native and longtime Strand resident Jeff Gilder founded all three online entities.
Coughlin said theGolfdirector.com programming has reached 172 countries, all 50 states and more than 25,000 cities. “A gentleman from Mexico emailed us that his wife threatened to divorce him because every night he goes out in his hammock and listens to The Golf Directors,” Coughlin said.
“The concept grew out of wanting to provide services to golfers and bringing them together with the people who want to service the golfers while they’re here, and giving them a place to meet in a very fun, interactive way.”
The site offers 24-hour golf talk radio. There are between eight and 12 live shows produced per week that replay in a loop. In-studio shows are also shot on video at the company’s North Myrtle Beach studio, and those videos are also available online.
In addition to being available through the site, shows are also available through the Myrtle Beach Golf app, iTunes, YouTube, Ustream, Roku, Vimeo and Blubrry. “So we really don’t known how many people we’re reaching via all of the apps, but we know how many people are coming to the site, and last year it was about 6 million interactions,” Coughlin said.
Myrtle Beach golf is the predominant topic but other golf matters are broached.
Studio shows include:
The Golf Wrap is at 10 a.m. Monday and features teaching pro and former PGA Tour member Hugh Royer III and George Honeycutt, who also host Pro Golf Talk Live at 9 a.m. Thursday and The Round Table at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Fantasy Golf with Dye Club pro Jeff Diehl and longtime pro Gene Weldon is at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Tech Talk with Dr. Grind Al Cloyd is at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, The GolfMonger with Brian Stefan is at 1 p.m. Thursday, and Rules of Golf with Golf Academy of America instructor Martyn Woodhouse is at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Golf Gossip hosted by the real housewives of golf professionals Jamie Ketola and Coughlin is at 4 p.m. Monday. “We have a good time with that,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin hosts Amateur Golf Talk Live and Tee It Up Grand Strand on occasion, and Golf Connections is hosted by True Blue/Caledonia head pro Bob Seganti.
Junior Shootout scheduled
Entries are being accepted for the 12th annual Junior Golf Shootout, which will be held April 3-4 on the SouthCreek and West courses at Myrtle Beach National.
The 36-hole stroke-play tournament is the Friday and Saturday of Easter weekend and is open to boys and girls ages 10 to 18. Tee times begin at approximately noon Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday.
The $135 entry fee includes two rounds of golf, lunch both days and a welcome gift. The entry deadline is noon March 29, and practice rounds are available beginning March 29 at a cost of $30 per round and may be booked 48 hours in advance. Enter at www.mbn.com/golf-events or call 843-448-2300.