How many holes of golf? Pros running the gauntlet to raise money for military vets

The Myrtle Beach Patriots prepare to play a 100-hole golf marathon in September 2017 at Rivers Edge Golf Club in Shallotte, N.C., to raise money for the Folds of Honor Foundation.
The Myrtle Beach Patriots prepare to play a 100-hole golf marathon in September 2017 at Rivers Edge Golf Club in Shallotte, N.C., to raise money for the Folds of Honor Foundation. Courtesy Jimmy Biggs

More than 20 golf professionals on the Grand Strand will be helping the families of fallen or disabled military veterans by playing golf from sunrise to nearly sunset on Sunday.

The Myrtle Beach Patriots, as they call themselves, will each attempt to play 100 holes of golf for the fifth consecutive year in honor of Patriot Golf Day, which is Labor Day.

The marathon at Rivers Edge Golf Club in Shallotte, N.C., will raise money for the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides educational scholarships to the spouses and children of fallen or disabled service members and has the motto: “Honor Their Sacrifice. Educate Their Legacy.”

The golf marathon group has grown, as it began with 10 pros representing East Coast Golf Management in 2014 and currently has 21 committed, with additional pros from Arnold Palmer Golf Management, Founders Group International and independent courses participating.

Organizers from East Coast opened up the event to additional pros last year.

Others in the Grand Strand golf industry, including some package providers and hotel operators, are contributing to the fundraising.

“We’ve really tried to make it a Myrtle Beach community thing,” said Crow Creek Golf Club head pro Jimmy Biggs, a Myrtle Beach Patriots organizer. “My dream would be Myrtle Beach as a whole would have a Patriot Golf Day every Labor Day, with every course participating. We’re the golf capital of the world, and courses and hotels from different groups all working together for one thing is pretty special. It’s a testament to what Myrtle Beach does as a whole.”

The group plans to tee off just after 6 a.m. – as soon as players can see in front of them – with a color guard sending them off, and Biggs expects them to finish around 7 p.m., with each foursome finishing at the 18th green in front of supporters at the clubhouse. Each participant has his own cart to expedite play.

“There is usually a well-deserved beer at completion of the round,” Biggs said. “There won’t be a better tasting beer than one after playing 100 holes of golf.”

In 2015, a second consecutive day of 100 holes was added. “That just hurt,” Biggs said. “The idea was to try to double what we made from the previous year, and we did. But that just hurt. We backed off from that.”

That was replaced by a charity tournament, and the Patriot Day event has now extended to three events over three days, with two of those open to the public.

A fundraising tournament called Battle For Glory is Saturday at The Pearl. Threesomes will compete against each other in a scramble format in groups of six, with each team representing either Team Stars or Team Stripes. A brass eagle trophy is on the line for the winning team.

The entry fee of $125 per player includes lunch, and also includes a dinner and live auction from 5:30-9 p.m. Friday at the Barefoot Resort Conference Center.

Tickets for the dinner are $25 at the door and the event will include guest speakers – at least one Folds of Honor representative and a recipient family.

Interested players can contact Biggs at Crow Creek at 910-287-3081 or pro Mike Benson at The Pearl at 910-579-8132. The tournament is approaching a sellout with 120 players.

The Myrtle Beach Patriots have raised $170,000 over the past four years, and expect to raise between $80,000 and $90,000 this week.

Biggs said $16,000 was raised by the inaugural event, and donations increased to $32,000, $40,000 and $84,000 over the past three years. “We can always do more but we’re happy with what we’ve been able to do so far,” Biggs said.

Biggs said pros have to raise at least $3,000 to be eligible to play in the 100-hole marathon, and are still accepting donations per par, birdie or eagle during the marathon. Biggs said he’s up to $108 per birdie.

“The idea is to make it worth it, make you feel like you’ve accomplished something,” he said.

“The more people who get involved and see what it’s for want to be part of it.”

Tidewater contributing

Another tournament that benefits the Folds of Honor this weekend is the Tidewater Patriot Day Charity Tournament on Monday at Tidewater Golf & Plantation in North Myrtle Beach.

The four-person team captain’s choice tournament has a 9 a.m. shotgun start and flights for male, female and mixed teams.

The entry fee is $175 per player, or $215 with a package that includes mulligans, additional opportunities to win prizes and other benefits. Entry fee includes breakfast, awards luncheon, military reception from 6-8:30 p.m. Sunday, refreshments, prizes for the top three teams and other gifts. For more information call 843-249-2018 or 203-213-9662.

There is also an affiliated Grand Strand Bowling for Veterans event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Little River Lanes. For more information on that event call the bowling alley at 843-249-0055 or 843-249-6834.

Retired U.S. Army Major Ed Pulido, the senior vice president of the Folds of Honor Foundation, will be in Myrtle Beach supporting the area’s events.

Pulido said the organization has awarded more than 20,000 scholarships and is on pace to soon raise more than $100 million.

Granddaddy honored

Pine Lakes Country Club, the first course on the Grand Strand, has been named a legacy business by the Horry County Board of Architectural Review. The recognition program pays tribute to local businesses that have contributed to the economic heritage of Horry County for more than 50 continuous years.

Pine Lakes celebrated its 90th birthday last year. It opened as Ocean Forest Golf and Country Club and was renamed Pine Lakes International Country Club in the 1950s under the ownership of Fredrick Albert Warner Miles.

It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, and the clubhouse and course underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation in 2009.

Known as the “The Granddaddy” and the birthplace of Sports Illustrated, Pine Lakes is a par 70 that was designed by Robert White, the PGA of America’s first president.

”The country club is a gem to both Horry County and the state of South Carolina as a whole because of its unique southern charm and historic significance,” said Jamie Thompkins, vice chair of the Horry County Board of Architectural Review & Historic Preservation, at the plaque presentation Wednesday.

FGI club fittings

Founders Group International, which owns and operates 22 Strand courses, including Pine Lakes, has teamed with TaylorMade Golf to offer free club fittings at several of its clubs in September and October.

The club fittings will be held either between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. or between 1-5 p.m. at TPC Myrtle Beach on Sept. 8, Long Bay Club on Sept. 14, River Hills Golf & Country Club on Sept 21, Indian Wells Golf Club on Sept. 27, Myrtlewood Golf Club on Oct. 6, and the Grande Dunes Resort Course on Oct. 27.

Golfers must sign up in advance by calling the course’s pro shop.

The Steve Dresser Academy at True Blue is also having free Trackman fittings for Ping on Sept. 5 and TaylorMade on Sept. 7.

From NY to MB

Five players among the nearly 3,200 in this week’s World Amateur Handicap Championship on the Grand Strand qualified by winning their flights in the inaugural Brooklyn Amateur Golf Championship on July 2 at Marine Park Golf Course.

The qualifiers comprised a diverse group. Overall winner Germay Medina is an Uber owner/driver from the Bronx; Paulus Frett is a bus driver from Queens; Steven Brewster is a caddie from East Stroudsburg, Pa.; Michael Fuchs works in the electrical supply business in Long Beach, N.Y.; and Dub Johnson is a New York Police Department detective from Brooklyn.