Myrtle Beach resident Phil Pfeiffer has been a regular participant in the Mayor’s Cup since its inception in 2006 at Whispering Pines Golf Club, and he has done quite well in it, winning the overall men’s title four times in 2009, ’10, ’13 and ’15.
He plans to continue participating in the tournament as long as they have it. “It has given me some of my best golf memories,” Pfeiffer said.
But the 44-year-old support and implementation specialist with Golfnow.com has also become disenchanted with some aspects of the tournament, and has decided to create an event that will incorporate the features he would like to see in a city amateur championship.
The inaugural Myrtle Beach Amateur Championship is scheduled to be held on the King’s North Course at Myrtle Beach National Golf Club from Sept. 8-10. Pfeiffer has created the www.myrtlebeacham.net website and is accepting entries, which are $184 and include three rounds with cart, daily practice balls, a breakfast buffet prior to the final round and pro shop gift certificate prizes.
“King’s North is absolutely in the top tier of Myrtle Beach courses and hopefully that will attract players,” Pfeiffer said. “I certainly hope to fill the event at 125 players and we’ll see what happens.
King’s North is absoulutely in the top tier of Myrtle Beach courses and hopefully that will attract players. I certainly hope to fill the event at 125 players and we’ll see what happens.
Myrtle Beach Amateur Championship founder Phil Pfeiffer
“I’m going to do everything I can to get the word out,” added Pfeiffer, who is promoting the tournament on social media and directly contacting competitive amateurs and tour operators. “If we make it a really good golf course at a reasonable entry fee and get the word out well in advance, hopefully we can attract enough players to give some good gift certificates.”
The 2016 Mayor’s Cup, which was played for the first time on Myrtle Beach’s three public city courses of Whispering Pines, Pines Lakes Country Club and the Grande Dunes Resort Course after being held exclusively at Whispering Pines, attracted only about 60 players, men and women combined.
Lorcan Morris of Charlotte, N.C., who won the inaugural Mayor’s Cup in 2006 and returned for the first time last year to capture another title, was dismayed that his win garnered only a $100 gift card and no trophy or trophy presentation.
Chip Smith, a Mayor’s Cup organizer whose company Atlantic Golf Management operates Whispering Pines, said he believes the Mayor’s Cup will continue and full details of the 2017 event will be determined in future meetings. He said despite an entry fee increase to $249 because of the inclusion of the other courses, the tournament still lost money last year.
Can the Mayor’s Cup and Myrtle Beach Championship coexist? “I think as long as they’re not on the same date, sure, they can both survive,” Pfeiffer said.
The Myrtle Beach Amateur Championship is open to all golfers age 16 and older. The format is 54 holes of stroke play with four planned divisions of men’s open, women’s open, senior and super senior, and flights within the divisions.
“I tried to take the best parts of the Mayor’s Cup and use those,” Pfeiffer said. “With flighting, more players have a chance to compete for something and win something on the final day.”
Pfeiffer expects to pay 30 percent of the field with pro shop gift certificates, and trophies will be awarded to each division winner and runner-up. The open division will play approximately 6,600 to 6,800 yards.
He planned to make the tournament an event for men only, but he was contacted by regular Mayor’s Cup participant Cecelia Barksdale and she will help recruit for the women’s division. “If she can get all the ladies to participate, that would be fantastic,” Pfeiffer said.
Pfeiffer unknowingly scheduled this year’s tournament on the same dates as the Golfweek Senior Tour Myrtle Beach chapter’s season-ending championship, which could result in the events drawing from each other’s player pools. “If this is at all successful I’ll try to grab a date in 2018 before [Golfweek Tour director Jason Dores] gets his dates,” Pfeiffer said. “For this year there’s a conflict there and we’ll just have to deal with it.”
Pfeiffer has the Coastal Players Tour run by Buddy Wilkins on board as a sponsor and has set up a Paypal account that accepts credit cards. He’s still seeking sponsorships that can increase the prize pool or decrease future entry fees. “I want the entry fee to be reasonable and within reach for most people,” Pfeiffer said.
Masters champ commits
Reigning Masters champion Danny Willett and nine touring Team RBC Ambassadors are among players who have committed early to the 49th annual RBC Heritage from April 13-16 at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island. Four players representing RBC are past champions.
Jim Furyk, the 2015 winner and current U.S. Ryder Cup Team Captain, is joined by 2011 winner Brandt Snedeker, 2013 winner Graeme McDowell and 2014 winner Matt Kuchar, as well as fellow RBC Ambassadors Ernie Els, Graham DeLaet, Adam Hadwin, David Hearn and Nick Taylor. The latter five players are all from Canada, where the tournament title sponsor is based.
Willett is ranked 13th in the Official World Golf Ranking and will be making his RBC Heritage debut, and he’ll be joined by another couple notable international players.
Both Scotland native Russell Knox, who tied for second with Luke Donald in the 2016 Heritage and is ranked in the top 20 in the world, and Irishman Shane Lowry, who won the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and tied for second behind Dustin Johnson in the 2016 U.S. Open, have committed.
Others who have already committed include past champions Aaron Baddeley, Stewart Cink and Carl Pettersson, and South Carolina residents or natives Lucas Glover, Bill Haas, Kevin Kisner, Ben Martin and William McGirt.
Tickets for this year’s Heritage are on sale at www.rbcheritage.com or by calling the tournament office at 843-671-2448.
RBC tournament beneficiary Hilton Head Heroes was a 2016 PGA Tour Charity of the Year finalist, receiving a $5,000 grant from the PGA Tour. Its mission is to bring families with children between the ages of 2-16 suffering from life threatening illnesses to Hilton Head for a resort vacation.
The PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship is being played just an hour from the north end of the Grand Strand from May 4-7 at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, N.C., and tournament organizers have teamed with Dick’s Sporting Goods in North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach to provide in-store tickets for purchase.
Ticket options from these regional locations are practice pack, weekly and single day, and pricing starts at $30. Parking and shuttle fees from authorized tournament parking lots are included in the ticket price. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult.
Some of the 1,800 people who have filled the need for volunteers for the tournament are undoubtedly from the Strand. The Wilmington area is being credited with 1,265 volunteers and the Charlotte area with 535. Volunteer coordinator Paula Burnett has started a waiting list that organizers would like to see reach 200 people. Visit www.wellsfargochampionship.com for more information.
Hackler champ out
Jimmy Stanger’s good fortune is a bad break for the General James Hackler Championship hosted by Coastal Carolina at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club from March 11-12.
Stanger, who recently shot a school-record 10-under 62 in the John Burns Intercollegiate at Wailua Golf Course in Lihue, Hawaii, has been awarded a sponsor exemption to play in the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., which is just 45 minutes from his hometown.
The Hackler and final two rounds of the Valspar coincide on March 11-12, and Stanger, who also won the Southern Amateur at The Dunes Club last summer, will not defend his Hackler individual title whether he makes the Valspar cut or not, according to Virginia assistant athletics director for media relations Jim Daves.
First Tee home hit
The First Tee of Brunswick County is repairing damage caused by high winds Wednesday from what was believed to be a tornado that ripped through its home facility, the The Golf Park at Cinghiale Creek in Shallotte, N.C.
The staff members found themselves hunkering down in a bathroom as a storm came through the facility. Though no one was hurt and the buildings on the property suffered no visible damage, the storm ripped down and ruined more than half of the nets that surround the driving range, uprooted numerous trees and destroyed several pieces of outside furniture.
With spring programming beginning March 14 at the facility, the staff is seeking volunteers and donations to assist with repairs. Call 910-754-5288 or visit www.thefirstteebrunswickcounty.org to assist or for more information.