In his first South Carolina Golf Association event this past weekend, a new Myrtle Beach resident gave tournament organizers and competitors reason to ask: Who is Parks Price?
Price opened the 86th South Carolina Amateur Championship on Thursday at Florence Country Club with a blistering 8-under 62 that gave him a three-stroke lead, shared the lead entering Sunday’s final round and ended up tying for fourth.
Former Clemson All-American Gregg Jones, the reigning club champion at Florence Country Club, won by two shots with an 8-under 272 over Ryan Marter of Columbia and R.J. Keur of North Charleston. Marter is a former AC Flora High golfer who will play at Wofford College following the U.S. Amateur at Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles.
Price finished four shots back following a 5-over 75 in the final round. “It was tough to beat a player like Gregg Jones on his home course. He just took it from us,” Price said.
So who is Parks Price?
Price, 32, is a native of Taylorsville, N.C., who is now an independent insurance broker for Assured Life Solutions based in Hickory, N.C. He briefly moved to Longs from Calabash, N.C., early this year before moving to Myrtle Beach, and he has been a member at the Grande Dunes Members Club since February.
He was a three-sport athlete in high school – golf, swimming and football – and therefore didn’t play a lot of junior or amateur tournament golf before playing at Cape Fear Community College in Brunswick County from 2003-05. He attended UNC Charlotte for a year but didn’t make the golf team, then spent seven years in the golf industry.
He said he attained Class A PGA status and worked as an assistant at Pine Valley Country Club in Wilmington, N.C., then in 2010 he attempted to play mini-tour golf. He said he finished second in his first event, changed irons the next week, then went through his bankroll in six weeks.
In 2012 he left the golf business for ATM machine sales and soon transitioned to insurance sales.
As a club pro, Price played in several North Carolina Opens as well as some S.C. Opens and Carolinas Opens. He regained his amateur status late in 2014, and has played in several Carolinas Golf Association events before moving to S.C., teeing it up in the N.C. Amateur, Carolinas Amateur, N.C. Mid-Amateur and Carolinas Four-Ball. He has recorded a few top-30 finishes but hasn’t been in contention before this week.
“It’s a little different not knowing people down here. Nobody knows who you are,” Price said. “I kind of fly under the radar. Not that you need to be on somebody’s radar, but if you shoot 62 sometimes you are.”
Price also played in last year’s North & South Amateur at Pinehurst Resort after winning a qualifier.
He has enjoyed having his amateur status back. “It has been nice to get back out. This is new to me so it’s fun,” Price said. “I love playing golf and I love tournament golf. It kind of calms me down. You’re mind races sometimes and golf seems to calm me down. I’m doing something that’s fun and that I love.”
Before joining the Members Club, Price was regularly going to public driving ranges for a couple years, including the Harbour View golf complex in Little River a couple times a week because it is lighted.
He’s chatty on and off the golf course. “Hopefully I don’t get under the skin of my playing partners,” he said.
Price said he hopes to play in five to eight tournaments per year. “I work for myself and try to make appointments, but when you have something like the S.C. Amateur I tend to focus on that,” Price said.
Price had an eventful week at Florence Country Club. In addition to his opening 62, he shot a third-round 67 that included a holed 9-iron from 144 yards for eagle on the 15th hole and closed with the 75. He bogeyed three of his first four holes, bounced back with an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole, but fell back again with a double bogey on the par-4 ninth. “It was a crazy weekend,” he said.
Price competes more with accuracy than length, saying one of his playing partners last week was outdriving him by about 60 yards. “If you put me on a 6,400-yard course I’m gonna scare somebody. If you put me on a 7,200-yard course I hope it’s firm.”
Prior to the 62, his best round in competition was a 66 at National Golf Club in Pinehurst in the 2007 Carolinas PGA Assistants’ Championship.
“Right now whatever I’m doing feels pretty special,” Price said. “I feel I’m playing the best golf of my life right now. It’s fun when you can put it all together and see some hard work paying off.”
Right now whatever I’m doing feels pretty special. I feel I’m playing the best golf of my life right now. It’s fun when you can put it all together and see some hard work paying off.
Some new equipment has helped his game, as master club fitter C.J. Ebel, owner of the Golf Club Maestro in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., has adjusted his clubs. Price said he hasn’t had a formal golf lesson in the past few years and is generally a self-taught player.
He is entered in a qualifier for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship on Aug. 21 at Amelia National Golf & Country Club in Florida, and if he doesn’t qualify he’ll play in the S.C. Mid-Am in October. “If I can qualify for that I’ll feel this year would be a total success,” Price said.
Price said at some point in the future he may try to regain his Class A PGA status, but it will likely come after he gives competitive amateur golf a run for awhile.