David Butler of Raleigh, N.C., has played with his son, Noah, in the National Father & Son Team Classic on the Grand Strand in each of the past seven years.
They first played when Noah was 11, and have steadily moved up in flights as Noah has gotten older and better.
Their appearances built and culminated Saturday with a title in the 21st annual tournament, which had 333 teams registered.
“We started out way in the bottom divisions. Every year his handicap would get better and we would move up,” David said. “When we first started out he was [small] and he was about a 30 handicap.”
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David carries a 1.8 handicap index and Noah, 17, has a 2.5 handicap. He’s a rising senior at Leesville Road High in Raleigh and captained the school’s boys golf team last year.
Because David turned 60 he could have moved up a tee box and the team could have moved into a senior division, but he wanted to give the overall title a few more shots. “I decided to try a couple more years back there while I can,” he said.
The Father-Son was part of Family Golf Week, which also includes a Parent-Child Team Classic that attracted 17 teams. The two tournaments attracted a combined 700 players from 42 states and four countries including Ireland, the United Kingdom and Canada, and were played on seven courses.
The Butler family has belonged to Wildwood Green Golf Club in Raleigh for the past four years.
Noah finished sixth in the Wilmington High School Invitational and 15th in the East Coast Junior, and he recently recorded a couple scores in the 60s at Wildwood. “We both have been playing well the last two weeks,” David said. “We were definitely trending the right way this week.”
David said the Butlers had the ninth-lowest combined handicap in the tournament this week, and may have benefitted from the tournament being cut to 36 holes with the cancelation of Friday’s second round because of rain.
“I always talk to him about overachieving and I think we overachieved this week,” David said.
They shot a 61 in a captain’s choice format at Arcadian Shores Golf Club on Thursday and shot 71 in alternate shot at the Legends Resort Heathland Course to win by two shots. They were a shot behind the leaders entering the final round and shot a 34 on the front nine.
David, who owns the Cable Concepts telecommunications company, thought he may have drowned the duo’s chances at a win when he dunked a shot into a creek on the par-5 16th hole and they made a double bogey.
“I thought I had blown it and I was really down,” David said. “I hit a terrible shot, maybe the worst shot I’ve hit since I was like 11. I chunked a 3-wood into the water, and I had been playing really good.
“He told me to keep grinding and somehow we parred the last two after that. We just hung in there and fought and didn’t give up. It was a great day.”
A surprise from Ireland
Kieran McDermott has previously played in a father and son event in Ireland, and his wife, Niamh, decided to search the Internet for a tournament in which she could play with the couple’s daughter, Saibh.
She didn’t find one in Ireland, but she found the Parent & Child Team Classic.
“Something popped up for Myrtle Beach, and she said, ‘Oh, there’s a tournament in Myrtle Beach we can enter,’ ” Kieran said. “So then we had to find out where Myrtle Beach was.”
So Kieran accompanied his wife and daughter to the tournament this past weekend on the Grand Strand. On Wednesday, the eve of the first round, Kieran’s youngest son Killian, 18, flew to Myrtle Beach to surprise his father and play with him in the Father & Son Team Classic. The rest of the family knew Killian was coming.
“We don’t like to be ordinary in our house. We’re not normal,” Killian said of his surreptitious trip. “I really enjoyed my experience. There are some great courses over here.”
The McDermott men ended up winning their flight.
“It has been unbelievable, fantastic to see such a family gathering and we had fun ourselves,” Kieran said. “It’s very well run and there’s great friendship and camaraderie. We had a blast.”
The couple’s oldest son also traveled to Myrtle Beach, arriving Friday.
The McDermotts plan to return to Family Golf Week next week. “One hundred percent, and we’ll see if we can bring some more with us because it’s a fantastic concept,” Kieran said.