Country music singer Cole Swindell has committed to make his debut, John Daly is returning after a two-year absence, and a golf ball drop is being introduced at this year’s Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am.
The 23rd annual tournament will be held April 10 at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club for the 15th consecutive year, and tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 20 at the House of Blues, both Barefoot Resort & Golf pro shops and all Ticketmaster outlets.
Tickets are $20 and children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. The Hootie MAM annually attracts more than 6,000 spectators and has sold out 10 consecutive years – on the day of the ticket release in recent years.
Tournament festivities begin with a Celebrity Long Drive Contest at 9 a.m. and the tournament tees off at 10 a.m. It features a professional golfer and a celebrity paired with three amateurs.
Early commitments to the tournament include ESPN Radio host Mike Golic, World Golf Hall of Fame member Nancy Lopez, Pro Football Hall of Fame members and former Buffalo Bills teammates Bruce Smith and Andre Reed, and hockey legend Grant Fuhr.
Daly, a two-time major champion who is now a member of the Champions Tour, had been a staple of the event for several years but has missed the past two events.
A golf ball drop during the tournament is a new component to the event. Balls can be purchased for $10 each and a helicopter will pass over targets at the Dye Club and drop what is expected to be thousands of balls. Balls that land on targets will win prizes. There will be a grand prize and secondary prizes that are yet to be determined, though Hootie & the Blowfish memorabilia, VIP passes to the Hootie MAM tournament and concert, and golf packages are expected to be included.
The $10 balls will be sold separately, so purchasers won’t have to attend the tournament.
“It’s just an added bonus for everybody,” tournament director Paul Graham said. “It’s a nominal fee. We always try to keep prices reasonable for everybody and we think it’s going to be something that’s very exciting.”
The Hootie MAM’s staple events including the post-tournament concert at the House of Blues and pre-tournament parties, auctions and silent auctions will continue to be part of the event.
“We’re always trying to make sure everybody coming to the event will have something a little bit new,” Graham said. “We want everybody, whether it’s a large sponsor or fan coming to the event, [to] all enjoy themselves.”
We’re always trying to make sure everybody coming to the event will have something a little bit new. We want everybody, whether it’s a large sponsor or fan coming to the event, all enjoy themselves.
Hootie MAM tournament director Paul Graham
All ticket and golf drop proceeds benefit the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, which supports the educational needs of children in South Carolina and the South Carolina Junior Golf Foundation. The tournament has helped create a fully-funded endowment. Visit HootieGolf.com for more information.
EagleWatch Golf will be making its debut in the Myrtle Beach market this week.
The Kentucky-based company that is offering ongoing jackpots for holes in one on participating golf courses will have demonstrations for invited guests in the industry at Sandpiper Bay Golf Club on Wednesday and the PGA Tour Superstore Myrtle Beach location on Thursday.
The contest will be live at Sandpiper in Sunset Beach, N.C., beginning Monday and PGA Tour Superstore will host a game on its simulators.
EagleWatch chief executive officer Clint McKinley said four courses are contracted to join Sandpiper on March 1 – Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club, True Blue Golf Club, Crow Creek Golf Club and Arcadian Shores Golf Club. He said he is negotiating with three more courses but agreements haven’t been finalized.
To play, golfers download the EagleWatch app (there will be an iPad in the pro shop), add money to their account and play for $5 or $10 on a designated par-3 with a chance to win cash for shots on the green. Winnings increase progressively for shots within the length of the flagstick, within 2 feet and in the hole. A camera at the green monitors shots. The hole in one jackpot increases weekly if no one makes an ace on participating courses.
“When I was young we used to go to Myrtle Beach all the time. It’s such a great area from Georgetown to Myrtle Beach,” said McKinley, 53, who has lived in Lexington, Ky., his entire life. “I’m thrilled we’re going to be in that market. We want to go on as many courses in that market as are a good fit for our model.”
Aberdeen on mend
In late October, Founders Group International had targeted Wednesday as the reopening date for Aberdeen Country Club in Longs, but continued repairs to the clubhouse have pushed its reopening likely into March.
The 27-hole facility is the lone course that remains closed because of damage from Hurricane Matthew and its aftermath. Flooding on the course caused by the nearby Waccamaw River reached the clubhouse and renovations have not been completed.
Optimist deadline set
Wednesday is the registration deadline for juniors to enter the Optimist Junior Golf Tour’s Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy Open from March 4-5 at Barefoot Resort’s Norman Course.
The top three finishers in each of five divisions will qualify for the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships from July 18 to Aug. 2 at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The divisions are boys 16-18, 14-15 and 11-13, and girls 14-18 and 11-13. The Norman Course qualifier is one of 56 across the U.S. and Canada.
Five juniors ages 16-18 can qualify for expense-paid finals appearances by being selected to the Hugh Cranford All-Scholastic Team through an application process highlighting academic achievement and an essay, or community service. Visit www.optimist.org/golf or call 314-881-1307 for more information.
First Tee gears up for spring
The First Tee of the Grand Strand has several events on tap for the spring season.
Registration for the organization’s Spring 2017 After School & Saturday programs, which kick off during the first week of March, is open at www.TheFirstTeeTheGrandStrand.org.
The programs are for youth between 7 and 14 years of age and will be conducted at eight Grand Strand golf facilities: Willbrook Golf Club, Wachesaw Plantation, Cane Patch Par 3 & Driving Range, Shaftesbury Glen Golf & Fish Club, The Legends, Crown Park, The Hackler at CCU and Eagle Nest Golf Club. The cost is $40 for all eight weeks and fitted golf clubs will be provided, if needed.
The First Tee of the Grand Strand also will begin its School Day Program for all Georgetown County Elementary School fourth-graders in early March at Tradition Golf Club, Cherry Hill Golf Club and the JB Beck Field in Georgetown, which replaces the Wedgefield Plantation programs. The program culminates the fourth annual Scott Marlowe Champions Challenge on May 18, when each school will choose a team of fourth-graders – seven boys and seven girls. Sponsorships are available.
The First Tee of the Grand Strand will sponsor a Pelican’s Nite on April 14 at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online by clicking on the Pelicans button on the organization’s website.
The fifth annual Futures Generations Tournament, in honor of junior golf and The First Tee champion Gene Weldon, will be held at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club on July 25. The Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman and Charlie Rymer will co-host the event, a scramble competition that will feature foursomes with three sponsors and a local First Tee youth in each group. Tournament fees include a shirt, hat, golf balls, goodie bag, box lunch, BBQ dinner, an internet and silent auction and prizes.
Anyone interested in volunteering, participating or sponsoring these events can find details on the website or contact Executive Director Rich Abraham at Rich@TheFirstTeeTheGrandStrand.org or Program Director Patrick O’Brien at Patrick@TheFirstTeeTheGrandStrand.org.
Golf academy welcomes new president
The Golf Academy of America announced on Monday that it has hired a new campus president to lead its flagship campus in Myrtle Beach.
Retired Lt. Col. Gene Augustine, a former student of the Golf Academy of America in Orlando, Fla., has been hired as the Myrtle Beach president and began his duties Jan. 17.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lt. Colonel Augustine on board,” Geoff Baird, president of Golf Academy of America, said in a press release. “His outstanding strategic and operational leadership, teaching experience, and business and golf acumen, combined with his invaluable experience as a recent student in our school, make him the perfect fit to lead our staff, faculty and student body. We couldn’t have found a better set of skills and experience to lead GAA into its next aggressive phase of growth.”
In Orlando, Augustine graduated from the academy as valedictorian and received the Conrad Rehling Achievement Award for his high standards of attitude, work ethics and game improvement.
“When I first got to the Golf Academy of America in Orlando and saw the way they operated and the leadership team that was assembled down there, I really felt like GAA was home. I was really drawn to it,” Augustine said in a press release. “Even during my first semester, I thought that I would love to work at a place like this. Based on my background in education, the military, and playing and teaching golf, they thought I might be a good fit at GAA in Myrtle Beach. I’m excited that they thought of me and I can’t wait to get started.”
Augustine’s military career in the Marine Corps spanned over two decades, and among his recognitions for his service were the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Naval Commendation Medal, Joint Commendation Medal and three Combat Action Ribbons.