Eleven courses on the Grand Strand have been selected among the top 50 golf courses in the state for 2018 by the South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel, led by The Dunes Golf and Beach Club at No. 9.
Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course, which hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup matches and the 2012 PGA Championship, has been voted the best golf course in S.C. for the fourth consecutive time on the biennial list, edging Sea Pines Resort’s Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island.
Harbour Town is hosting the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage for the 50th time next week, and the PGA Championship will return to the Ocean Course in 2021.
May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff climbed one spot to third, Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville slipped to fourth and Greenville Country Club’s Chanticleer Course remained fifth.
Other Strand courses in the top 50 are Caledonia Golf & Fish Club at No. 12, Tidewater Golf Club and Plantation at 27, Wachesaw Plantation at 28, DeBordieu Club at 30, The Reserve Club at 37, Surf Golf and Beach Club at 39, True Blue Golf Club at 40, the Grande Dunes Resort Course at 44, Barefoot Resort Dye Club at 46 and TPC Myrtle Beach at 47.
The Surf Club, Resort Course, Dye Club and TPC Myrtle Beach are new to the list this year.
The panel is composed of 125 golf enthusiasts from throughout the state, with 25 percent representing each of the geographic areas of the Upstate, the Midlands, the Lowcountry and the Strand.
Judging criteria include routing, variety, strategy, equity, memorability, aesthetics and experience. The best courses, public or private, are selected in even-numbered years, and the best public courses are ranked in odd-numbered years.
For the first time, the panel also voted on the Most Fun Courses to Play in the state, naming one in each area. Caledonia, with its mixture of scenery and strategic golf, was named the most fun on the Strand. The other winners were Bulls Bay in the Lowcountry, Palmetto Golf Club in the Midlands and the Walker Courses at Clemson in the Upstate.
RBC filling up
Though commitments aren’t due until 5 p.m. Friday, the field for the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage is taking shape, and it will have a heavy South Carolina contingent.
Columbia area native and Coastal Carolina alumnus Dustin Johnson has committed to play in the tournament for the first time since 2009, and he’ll be joined by fellow South Carolina natives or residents Scott Brown, Lucas Glover, Bill Haas, Kevin Kisner, Ben Martin, William McGirt and defending champion Wesley Bryan.
Bryan is the first tournament winner from South Carolina.
The 50th annual RBCHeritage Presented by Boeing is being played next Thursday through Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island.
Johnson is a new Team RBC Ambassador, and fellow RBC-affiliated golfers and past champions Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell and Brandt Snedeker have also committed to play.
Other committed past champions include Aaron Baddeley, Stewart Cink, Glen Day, Brian Gay, Davis Love III and Carl Pettersson.
Recent commitments also include Brian Harman, Chris Kirk and Hudson Swafford, who like Kuchar and Love are residents of Sea Island, Ga.
Caddie for Johnson
Are you interested in caddying for Dustin Johnson and have some money you’d like to donate to a charity?
You have your chance.
Johnson is auctioning off the opportunity to caddie for him in the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage pro-am next Wednesday.
In addition to walking alongside Johnson during the pro-am, the auction item includes two weeklong badges to the tournament, weeklong parking passes and an RBC Heritage pin flag signed by him.
Proceeds will benefit the Dustin Johnson Foundation, which has causes that include providing golf opportunities for youth in the Myrtle Beach area.
As of Monday afternoon, bidding was at $5,000 with the next bid at $5,250. Bidding goes through 3:30 p.m. Thursday at www.charitybuzz.com/categories/sports/catalog_items.
Three touring pros from the Grand Strand are finalizing or considering their plans for the remainder of 2018.
Patrick Lundy of Little River will be playing on the GPro Tour, which just began its season and features events in the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia, then plans to play on the Mackenzie Tour – PGA Tour Canada.
The Mackenzie Tour has five qualifying schools through early May then begins its season on the first weekend in June.
The schedules of Conway native Kristy McPherson and Murrells Inlet resident Zack Byrd are less established.
McPherson, 36, plans to play in the five or six LPGA events she will qualify for as a veteran tour member with more than $2 million in career earnings, which she expects to be between five and seven events.
She also plans to Monday qualify for some other events and play in some events on the LPGA’s feeder circuit, the Symetra Tour, where she played most of last season.
McPherson attempted to Monday qualify for the Kia Classic two weeks ago in Carlsbad, Calif., in a qualifier that featured 60 players vying for two spots and fell a couple shots shy.
She’s considering the Monday qualifier for the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship in San Francisco on April 23, in part because it is just before the first reshuffle of the season, when players who have earned money this season improve their status.
“If I were to qualify before the reshuffle it could change the whole year,” McPherson said.
The Symetra Tour has had one event in mid-March, and McPherson plans to play in the fourth event at the Links at Stoney Point in Greenwood, which features a $200,000 purse that is among the four largest on the tour this season and comes during an LPGA off week.
Byrd, 32, completed the 2017-18 season on the Sunshine Tour based in South Africa with a finish of 18th in the tour championship at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate on March 15.
He earned more than $23,500 in 12 events to place 46th on the tour order of merit and nearly win the tour’s rookie of the year honor, and he’ll have full Sunshine Tour status and an anticipated four European Tour starts this year.
But he said he may not play this season if a financial sponsor isn’t found.
The season starts in a couple weeks but Byrd does not plan to be there.
“Hopefully something works out in my favor, if not I will have to get a job,” Byrd said. “I don’t want to quit but with two kids I have to if something doesn’t change financially.”
The Strand is represented on the PGA Tour by Johnson and Roberto Diaz, a rookie who lived in Myrtle Beach for six years and still represents the Greg Norman Champions Golf Academy at Barefoot Resort. Diaz has earned $172,000 in 12 events this season and is 161st in FedExCup points.
A pair of friendly events over the past two weeks have welcomed visiting Canadian golfers, though teams representing South Carolina and the U.S. were victorious in both.
A team of the top junior boys and girls in South Carolina continued its dominance in the Can-Am Junior Team Matches at Wachesaw Plantation, earning a 227.5-204.5 win over many of the top junior golfers in Ontario.
The S.C. team, consisting of eight boys and eight girls including Holden Grigg of Myrtle Beach and Smith Knaffle of Murrells Inlet, improved the S.C. team record to 17-3 in the 20 years of the event. The competition consists of four-ball two-person team matches on the first day and singles matches on the final day.
Grigg won his team match 12-6 and singles match 9.5-8.5, while Knaffle fell 10-8 in the team match and won 10.5-7.5 in singles.
Adults were featured in the 10th edition of the Can-Am Cup and Challenge at the Valley Club at Eastport in Little River, and the U.S. team won 39-30 to improve to 7-3 in the competition.
It is also held over two days. A pair of matches on the first day featured Eastport assistant pro Tedd Kalata and amateur Jim Scott defeating Canadian amateur Brian Thompson and veteran Canadian pro Doug Sullivan of New Brunswick 2.5-0.5, and Eastport owner/superintendent Joey Vareen and member J.J. McCabe beating Canadian snowbirds Len Clouthier and Sparky Gilbeau 3-0).
A two-player male, female and mixed-team challenge followed that featured nearly 100 players, and the U.S. extended its lead. The event included entertainment from a Patsy Cline impersonator and post-tournament dinner.