If the opening event is any indication, the Golfweek Amateur Tour is in for a big season in 2018.
The Pawleys Invitational at True Blue Golf Club and Caledonia Golf & Fish Club on Feb. 17-18 had a sold-out field of 124 players and a waiting list, making it the largest ever Golfweek Amateur Tour event on the Grand Strand.
The field was strong, as well, as 71 competitors had single-digit handicaps, and 18 Golfweek chapter tours were represented with players from as far away as New York, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio.
Between prize money, skins payouts, pin proximity and a two-man intra-tournament event, Dores said $18,000 was paid in winnings.
The Golfweek Tour has opened on President’s Day weekend since tour director Jason Dores took it over, and the initial event four years ago attracted 66 players.
Dores expects a fourth consecutive year of membership increases. There were 91 members last year, and with nearly 80 already registered for 2018 Dores expects to exceed 100 members. He said he’s seeing players travel farther to join, including those from the Florence area.
Dores is also operating the Golfweek Senior Amateur Tour for the second straight year. It had 68 members in the inaugural season and he expects that number to grow considerably.
“I think once it hits full strength, the senior tour will probably double the membership the regular tour has,” Dores said. “There’s no doubt in my mind with that just because of the demographics here.”
Handicaps are used to place players in one of five flights on the regular tour and four flights on the senior tour, though they are not counted in gross scoring.
The membership fee is $100 for the regular tour and $85 for the senior tour. One-day tournaments on the regular tour are generally $85 for one-day and $225 for two-day events, while the senior tour consists solely of one-day events primarily on Mondays and Thursdays with entry fees averaging about $75.
Both tours generally have a couple events a month into September. The senior tour begins March 1 at Long Bay Club and the next regular tour event is the War on the Shore at Arrowhead Country Club on March 3.
The regular tour has a few two-day events including the Golfweek Masters at Sandpiper Bay Golf Club from April 7-8, a regional at Kiawah Island July 21-22, and the Grand Strand Classic Sept. 1-2 at Barefoot Resort and Grande Dunes. Skins games often precede two-day events. A new three-day Winter Classic in Pinehurst, N.C., from Nov. 16-18 will feature a Stableford format.
The Golfweek national championship is in Hilton Head Island in October. More information on the tours can be found at www.amateurgolftour.net.