For the first time in 12 years, the Mayor’s Cup amateur golf tournament will not be played.
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes came up with the idea in his first year in office, as Myrtle Beach didn’t have an event that could be considered a city amateur championship.
It has been held every year beginning in 2006 at the city-owned Whispering Pines Golf Club, and other Myrtle Beach courses Pine Lakes Country Club and the Grande Dunes Resort Course were added to create a three-course rotation last year.
“We owned the golf course and I wanted it to be like a city championship,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes said organizers, who include himself, Whispering Pines pro Gene McCaskill and Chip Smith, the owner of Atlantic Golf Management, which operates Whispering Pines, waited to see what the impact would be of several storms in the Atlantic Ocean late in the summer, and too much time passed to set a 2017 tournament date.
“We couldn’t get ourselves reorganized and we have put it off this year and plan to bring it back next year,” said Rhodes, who has played in the tournament every year and has an election upcoming next month. “It has been established and I hope whoever is in office will continue it. I hope I’ll be in office but you never know.”
Rhodes said he will help bring the tournament back next year whether he wins a fourth term or not.
“I don’t have to be the mayor to have the Mayor’s Cup,” he said. “It will be Chip and I working together. We’ll sit down and decide how we make it better than what it was. I don’t want it to go away. I think it could be big.”
The men’s and women’s Mayor’s Cups were held separately within a few weeks of each other through the tournament’s first several years, and the events grew to attract nearly 150 players for the men’s event and 120 for the women’s tournament in 2010.
But participation has waned in the the past few years for the three-day, 54-hole event and a singular event for both men and women last November attracted only about 60 players despite the addition of Pine Lakes and Grande Dunes.
The tournament is geared to local residents but is open to anyone 18 and older and has open, senior and super senior divisions.
The tournament has generally been held between August and October, though it has been as early as July and as late as November as well.
The addition of the city’s two other courses was meant to increase interest and prestige, but it also increased the entry fee to $249 including lunch each day, range balls, tournament gifts and awards. The entry fee in 2014 was $165.
“We’ll look at that and see if we can get those courses to cooperate and give us a good rate,” Rhodes said. “And if you’re working with golf courses you have to work around golf season.”
Former Whispering Pines head pro Alan Chasteen was the de facto tournament director for several years but he left the course before Atlantic Golf Management took over late in 2014.
The tournament may need a person to take the reins to flourish in the future.
“We have really not talked about having a tournament director and I’d have to say that’s probably our fault for not pushing to have a tournament director,” Rhodes said. “It’s tough to get people around here to get involved in a tournament like that. I really think it can work, can have the commitment it needs. But maybe we need to do things a little different. I think it needs just a little more publicity.”
Rhodes acknowledged the difficulty of having a weekend tournament in the fall because of college football and said different dates will be considered.
“I’d like to have more of our local players get involved in it,” Rhodes said. “I know it’s during football season and people travel to South Carolina and Clemson games. But we’ve tried to avoid those dates and play when they’re both on the road.”
Myrtle Beach resident Phil Pfeiffer, who is a four-time winner and has been a regular participant in the Mayor’s Cup, created his own amateur event this year called the Myrtle Beach Amateur Championship and it was held Sept. 8-10 at Myrtle Beach National’s King’s North Course.
Pfeiffer plans to bring the event back in 2018, and it could become competition for the Mayor’s Cup.
Event sells out
When marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday created the Myrtle Beach Fall Classic in 2014 it wanted to test the waters for the viability of tournament golf in addition to its huge Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship.
It has become evident that given the right product, golfers will travel for tournaments.
The fourth annual Myrtle Beach Fall Classic has sold out more than a month before the event tees off, as 336 golfers from 38 states, Canada and the United Kingdom are entered in the 72-hole, two-person team tournament from Nov. 12-16.
The tournament will be played on 12 Grand Strand courses.
The tournament has a different format each day, starting with best ball followed by Texas scramble, modified alternate shot and captain’s choice scramble. Golf courses being used are Barefoot Resort’s Fazio and Dye layouts, Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue Golf Club, Tiger’s Eye Golf Links, Glen Dornoch Golf Links, Parkland at Legends Resort, Oyster Bay, Pawleys Plantation, Pine Lakes Country Club, Prestwick Country Club and Thistle Golf Club. Five have been ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.
An entry fee of $375 includes four rounds, a gift bag, welcome reception with open bar and hors d’oeurvres, awards banquet with dinner and open bar.
In addition to the Fall Classic and World Am, Golf Holiday also runs the Preseason Classic, March Championship and Calabash Cup for amateurs, as well as the Dustin Johnson World Junior Golf Championship, Palmetto High School Golf Championship and Veterans Golf Classic.
Information on each event is at MyrtleBeachGolfHolidayTournaments.com.
There is room for three more teams in the ninth annual Wachesaw Plantation Club Four-Ball Invitational from Oct. 20-22.
The scratch two-man amateur best ball team event has divisions for mid-ams ages 25 and up, seniors agest 55 and older, and Super Seniors 65-and-up and has 57 teams entered from 12 states. The divisions are determined by the age of the team’s younger player.
The entry fee of $595 per team includes a tournament gift, lunch each day, range balls and awards, with more than and $11,000 in pro shop gift certificates to be awarded to more than one-third of the field.
Participating players are from California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Interested players can contact tournament chairman and participant Mike Daniels at 843-458-1580.
Pruitt to be inducted
For a golf career that includes both winning and officiating championships, Dillard Pruitt of Travelers Rest has been selected for induction into the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame. He will join uncle Dillard Traynham and brother-in-law Jay Haas in the state’s golf shrine as its 68th member.
Pruitt won multiple junior championships, was a two-time All-American at Clemson, earned victories in the South Carolina, Canadian and Sunnehanna amateurs tournaments and captured a PGA Tour title at the 1991 Chattanooga Classic. He also played in two Masters, two U.S. Opens and three PGA Championships.
After competing for 10 years, he became a PGA Tour rules official and is currently in his 19th season in that position. Pruitt is already in the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held during the South Carolina Golf Association’s Golf Day, January 13, 2018 at Columbia Country Club.
Mini golf, big payout
Interested in winning $5,000 while playing miniature golf?
That’s what is up for grabs for the winner of the $20,000 Minigolf Masters, which is being played later this week at the Hawaiian Rumble and Aloha Minigolf courses in the North Myrtle Beach area.
This is the 21st annual Minigolf Masters, and Bob Detwiler of North Myrtle Beach, founder of the U.S. Prominigolf Association, increased the purse to $20,000 last year on the tournament’s 20th anniversary. Thirty places will be paid.
There will be at least 80 participants and they are coming from as far away as the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Austria and numerous states.
Festivities begin at 5 p.m. Wednesday with a pro-am featuring members of the First Tee of the Grand Strand and First Putt, a miniature golf youth organization. Players can still enter the open pro division at Aloha Minigolf for $130, senior and super senior divisions for $75 and amateur division $55. The tournament concludes Saturday and a junior division being played Saturday is free to enter.
Lucky Dog Productions in Conway is filming the 2017 Minigolf Masters for a two-hour show that will air early next year in about 20 markets, Detwiler said, and he said the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the filming. Coca-Cola is also a sponsor of the event.
Detwiler has big plans for minigolf. He said he hopes to get to a Masters purse of $100,000, wants to have the show broadcast nationally as early as next year, is meeting next week with organizers of the 2021 World Games in Birmingham, Ala., to get minigolf included in that competition, and has his sights set on it becoming an Olympic sport.