Hootie & the Blowfish hold 25th Monday After the Masters
Hootie & the Blowfish hit a milestone Monday at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Club by holding its Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am for the 25th consecutive year.
While the popularity of bands and celebrity events tends to wane over time in many cases, Hootie’s tournament and three days of affiliated events show no sign of slowing down, with strong corporate sponsorship and a 13th consecutive sellout of more than 6,000 spectators.
More milestones are likely in the band’s future.
“As long as it’s fun and still raising money I’m sure we’ll do it,” Hootie lead singer Darius Rucker said.
“As long as we can have a home like this to do it in, why would we not do it?” added bassist Dean Felber.
The tournament began in Columbia and moved to Kiawah Island/Charleston for a short time before finding what appears to be a permanent home on the Grand Strand for the past 17 years.
“It’s probably 24 years more than we thought we’d be doing this tournament when we started in Columbia, South Carolina,” drummer Jim Sonefeld said. “We couldn’t do it without Myrtle Beach, I tell you that. . . . We couldn’t do it without the support of all of the volunteers here and infrastructure of the community.”
The tournament has raised more than $7 million for charity through the Hootie & the Blowfish Foundation, which gives largely to junior golf and education programs.
Guitarist Mark Bryan said the best part of hosting the tournament and affiliated events is “just the fact we get to have this much fun and do it for a good cause. You’re out there having fun hanging with your pro and people you’re playing with and meeting everybody and having a blast, but in the background the foundation of it all is raising money for charity. It feels good and makes the good time you’re having even more fun.”
This year’s participants included current or former PGA Tour members Davis Love III, John Daly, Billy Hurley, Woody Austin, Charlie Rymer, Tommy Gainey, Chesson Hadley, Harold Varner III and George Bryan, actor Anthony Michael Hall, former pro athletes David Ross, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Seth Joyner, Sterling Sharpe, Jim McMahon and Rick Barry, and musicians Scott Stapp, Aaron Lewis, Branford Marsalis, Javier Colon and Edwin McCain.
They, and others, combined golf and antics Monday to keep the crowd entertained.
Ross, a two-time World Series champion catcher who is playing in the tournament for the first time, came in early enough to take part in all tournament-related activities.
They included Saturday night’s concert on the outside deck of the House of Blues; Sunday’s practice round at the Dye Club and silent and live auctions in the House of Blues concert hall followed by karaoke; and Monday’s tournament and concert headlined by Hootie.
“It’s a bucket list for me to come here and be a part of it,” said Ross, who works for the Chicago Cubs and ESPN. “When you get that invitation that says Darius Rucker and Hootie & the Blowfish, it’s like, ‘sign me up, please.’ I was the first one to raise my hand. Last year I got invited and had a game for ESPN. This year I made sure I blocked this weekend just for this event. I definitely put it on my calendar really early.”
All of the events are within 1.5 miles of each other. “It’s just the perfect spot for what this tournament has become,” Felber said. “I can’t think of anywhere better.”
Part of the allure for celebrities is they, too, are entertained with the festivities, especially Monday night’s concert. So that keeps the tournament popular on the celebrity golf tournament circuit.
“I think the buzz is real, especially when you get here and see all the big names and the event that’s actually put on,” said Ross, a Cubs special assistant to baseball operations who plans to return later this year to visit with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans coaching staff and players. “. . . All I’ve heard about is how much fun [Monday] night is and how much fun this golf course is and this event.”
Former Dallas Cowboys great Jones also played in his first Hootie MAM on Monday.
“I’ve been invited several times and never made it and I’ve had friends who played in it and said, ‘Ed, you’re going to have a blast, you’re having fun for a good cause,’ and everything they said is true,” said Jones, who plans to become a regular participant. “I will pencil it in every year.”
Jones was caught by surprise by the public popularity of the event, and the spectators who surround a lot of tees, fairways and greens.
“I didn’t know they’d have a gallery,” Jones said. “None of them mentioned that. It makes it more nerve-racking. But there are people out here having a great time, enjoying it and supporting it and I absolutely love it.”
Paige Spiranac, model, social media star and former pro golfer who promotes the Myrtle Beach golf market for the Golf Tourism Solutions technology and marketing agency, is playing in her third Hootie MAM, and now plays in about six or seven celebrity tournaments per year.
“It’s one that I always make sure I come back to, especially because the concert is so much fun and probably one of the coolest things I get to do throughout the year,” Spiranac said.
Hootie & the Blowfish is touring this year to commemorate the 25th anniversary of their debut album “Cracked Rear View,” and has been selling out large venues.
Over the past decade, however, since Rucker began a solo country career in 2008, the band has only been playing together a few times a year at the MAM and a couple other events it promotes in South Carolina.
“They’re special for sure,” Bryan said. “It’s a chance not only for us to get together and play, but a lot of our friends and fan base get together for those shows and they’ve become really special events.”