World’s largest golf tournament bringing even more players to Myrtle Beach this year

The 2018 World Amateur Handicap Championship attracted players from 26 countries, including several in Europe. A new transatlantic flight from London to Charleston is expected to bring more golfers from Europe to the area.
The 2018 World Amateur Handicap Championship attracted players from 26 countries, including several in Europe. A new transatlantic flight from London to Charleston is expected to bring more golfers from Europe to the area. Golf Tourism Solutions

In its 35th year, the World Amateur Handicap Championship will enjoy an increase in participation of approximately 6 percent compared to 2017.

With online registration closed, 3,187 players have registered to compete in the tournament, which will be played on 56 Grand Strand golf courses from next Monday through Friday, Aug. 27-Sept. 1.

Entries have been received from 48 states and 26 foreign countries for the world’s largest single-location golf tournament.

Tournament operator Tourism Golf Solutions, a marketing and promotion agency that represents most Grand Strand courses and golf package providers, targeted international players through international tour operators and women through a women’s tour operator in Charlotte.

Both attempts were successful, as international participation is up 41 percent over last year to 190 players, six more countries are represented, and female participation is up 17 percent to 350 players.

A record 45 Germans are competing as well as 46 Canadians. South Carolina is the most represented state with 317 players, followed by North Carolina (285), Florida (273), Texas (252) and Virginia (201).

New direct flights have made impacts in some markets, with an increase in players from Colorado with nonstop flights to Denver available. There are also 12 players from Puerto Rico.

Sixty-one courses were scheduled to host rounds but five have dropped from the rotation because they closed to replace greens that were damaged over the winter.

For the first time since being introduced at the tournament in 2014, the gross divisions will be recognized as official World Amateur Golf Ranking events, allowing players to accrue rankings points. That could lead to the increased popularity of the gross divisions in coming years.

There will be more than 80 combined golfers competing in the men’s open and men’s senior (50 and older) gross divisions, and the medalists in each division will win entries and expenses-paid trips to compete in the Hainan Amateur in China in November.

In the gross divisions, the top three players after 72 holes advance to the championship round.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Just For Fun Flight, for players who want to enjoy the benefits of the tournament without the pressure of competition, has increased from 45 players in its debut last year to 75 players this year.

“We’ve created an atmosphere for couples, for buddies who just want to come down on a trip,” tournament director Scott Tomasello said. “It’s getting there. I think we can get to 100 players in year 3 and keep it moving.”

The tournament may be a little more fun for several participants who request and are selected to use Golf Boards during the rounds instead of golf carts. Golf Boards hold clubs and are a hybrid of a skateboard, surfboard and snowboard.

Five golf facilities – Sea Trail Resort, TPC Myrtle Beach, True Blue Golf Club, International World Tour Golf Links and the Grande Dunes Resort Course – will each carry eight Golf Boards for use.

The 19th Hole from 6-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday nights at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center will feature food and drinks, live entertainment, celebrity guest appearances, a golf expo and contests.

This year’s emcees are Golf Channel personalities Charlie Rymer and Damon Hack, and other special guests include Golf Channel’s Chantel McCabe and SI swimsuit model and online media personality Paige Spiranac, who will make appearances Wednesday and Thursday and conduct an on-stage clinic Thursday.

John Maginnes and Brian Katrek will broadcast their SiriusXM satellite radio show Katrek and Maginnes on Tap each day from the expo from 5-7 p.m., and Golf Channel’s Morning Drive show will be doing live remote broadcasts from Grande Dunes on Aug. 31 and the Barefoot Resort Dye Club, site of the championship round, on Sept. 1 between 7:30-9:30 a.m. each day.

Various segments of the 19th hole will be aired on the World Am’s Facebook Live page.

World Am festivities begin with Sunday’s 5 p.m. welcome party at Broadway at the Beach’s Celebrity Square, where the six players who have competed in all 35 World Ams will be recognized.