With online registration closed for the 32nd Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship, it appears the tournament will fall short of an increase in participation for the first time in four years.
There were 3,405 participants last year, and tournament director Jeff Monday said there are now 3,350 players registered and he expects between 3,370 and 3,380 players will be entered by the end of the week.
Online registration closed Friday, and marketing cooperative Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, which operates the event, will accept in-person or phoned entries through Friday.
The tournament enjoyed increases in participation of 8 percent in both 2012 and ’13 and more than 3 percent last year.
It will be played on approximately 60 Grand Strand courses from Aug. 31 through the Sept. 4 championship round at the Barefoot Resort Dye Club.
“I feel good about it,” Monday said. “We had 8 percent growth, 8 percent growth and another 3.5 growth. To be able to sustain that escalation really wasn’t feasible. If we take a 1-percent hit this year after the growth we’ve showed over the past three years that’s pretty much a win the way I look at it.”
Monday said there will be an increase in participation from returning players compared to 2014’s event but there are 60 fewer new players as of now.
“It shows it’s been good enough in the past few years that people want to come back,” Monday said. “We have to figure out why we didn’t get in front of new players, and when we do that we’ll increase our participation again.”
According to Golf Holiday, there are players entered from 27 foreign countries, 48 states and the District of Columbia.
There are 207 players registered from outside the U.S., and the countries with the most entries in order are Canada, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Brazil and Great Britain.
The only states not represented are North Dakota and South Dakota. The states with the most players entered in order are North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee.
The current entry fee is $575 and includes at least four rounds of golf on a different course daily, a gift bag with a $300 value and access to the World’s Largest 19th Hole, which includes food, open bars, contests, entertainment, equipment demos and prize drawings. Tournament organizers can be reached at 1-800-833-8798.
The latest handicap revision for participants is due Saturday, and Monday said tournament organizers are also asking for the lowest a player’s handicap index has been over the past year – from Aug. 15, 2014 – and they will be using that lowest index for the purposes of tournament handicaps.
Golf Holiday has been using that handicap policy for most of the events it has run since February.
“What we really want to know is your recent ultimate potential,” Monday said. “We’ll find people have a lower index following the World Am. It does protect a little bit from handicaps that inflate in the last month before the tournament. That has actually been very well received by the majority of players.”
If a golfer attempts to enter the World Am after Friday, they’ll have to be lucky enough to even out the number of participants in a flight or qualify for another special circumstance to be accepted.
“We don’t want to turn someone away, but we’re not going to adversely affect the golf tournament to get someone in late,” Monday said.
Langford makes splash
Adam Langford of Murrells Inlet finished strong Sunday at the South Carolina Amateur Championship, guaranteeing him another shot at the tournament title closer to home next year.
Langford closed with a 3-under-par 69 Sunday that included five birdies to finish 12th at 3-over 72-76-74-69—291 in the 129-player S.C. Golf Association event at Greenville Country Club’s Chanticleer Course.
The top 20 are exempt for next year’s S.C. Amateur at DeBordieu Club in Georgetown, and the 33-year-old Wachesaw Plantation Club member and Pittsburgh area native was tied for 24th through three rounds.
Langford has been working as a bartender at Wicked Tuna since moving to the area 2 ½ years ago after his parents and siblings moved away from Pittsburgh. He joined a friend who moved to the area from Pittsburgh two years prior.
He spent four years in the mortgage industry and three years selling Allied property and casualty insurance, but he had also previously been a bar manager and got back into the service industry because of the Grand Strand’s tourist economy.
“I would love to play a lot more, but in Myrtle Beach the summer time is the high point of the season in the restaurant business,” Langford said.
He’s planning to become more involved in significant amateur tournaments over the next year.
Langford played collegiately at Division I St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa., and later at Division III La Roche College outside Pittsburgh, where he graduated in 2005 and was inducted into its athletic hall of fame last year.
He won the Wachesaw Plantation club championship last year to qualify for the SCGA’s Tournament of Champions in late January at Tradition Club, where he finished fifth among 99 players at 1-over 145.
Langford may attempt to qualify for the upcoming U.S. Mid-Amateur – the nearest qualifying site is Lexington Country Club on Sept. 14 – and is motivated to attempt qualifying as an amateur for the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, which is 15 minutes from where he grew up and he has played several times.
“If I’m going to qualify and play in my hometown, next year is the year to try,” he said.
“Next year I’m going to put in a lot of effort in golf with the hopes not just to play in the U.S. Open but to play more competitively. I’d like to get back to playing in the elite amateur events.”
Langford is interested in playing in regional events including the Azalea, Cardinal and Southern ams – the 2016 Southern Am will be held at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club next July.
Ryan Carpenter of Aiken, a rising junior at Coastal Carolina who transferred to CCU from College of Charleston after his freshman year, tied for 25th in the S.C. Am. He opened with a 68 but fell back with rounds of 74, 78 and 78 for a 10-over 298.
Keenan Huskey, a rising sophomore at the University of South Carolina, won in impressive fashion. He shot a 19-under 68-67-68-66—269 to comfortably win by nine strokes. The only other player in the 84-year history of the tournament to win with a 19-under par 269 was eventual U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover in 1999 at the Country Club of Charleston, where he claimed his second of three consecutive titles.
Cloyd benefit Saturday
A tournament is being held Saturday at Possum Trot Golf Club to benefit clubmaker Al Cloyd, who is the proprietor of Al’s Custom Golf at the course.
Cloyd, 43, recently had surgery and is undergoing treatment for a recurrence of cancer. He was diagnosed with Stage 3B colon cancer in February 2012 and was deemed to be cancer free late in 2013. Doctors recently found a mass on the top of Cloyd’s right lung that a PET scan revealed was cancerous.
His club-building and -repairing tour trailer at Possum Trot is closed for what he anticipates will be four to six weeks during his treatments.
The tournament is a four-person team captain’s choice with an 8 a.m. shotgun start. An entry fee of just $30 includes prizes and a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs. Call the course at 843-272-5341 to register.