On Grand Strand Golf: Holliday Junior attracts 180 players from 17 states

Marcus Toennessen on the 2014 George Holliday Memorial Junior Tournament. He won’t be in this year’s field as he is too old to defend his title.
Marcus Toennessen on the 2014 George Holliday Memorial Junior Tournament. He won’t be in this year’s field as he is too old to defend his title.

Myrtle Beach National Golf Club will again be teeming with junior golfers from around the country this upcoming holiday weekend as the 47th annual George Holliday Memorial Junior Tournament has attracted approximately 180 players from 17 states and Mexico.

The tournament will be held on the facility’s three courses – King’s North, Southcreek and West – from Thursday through Saturday. Registration concluded Monday.

The tournament has a limit of 240 players with a combined seven boys’ and girls’ age divisions from 10-18.

Participation numbers are about the same as 2014. The event sold out for several years but participation has been in decline since 244 players competed in 2008. Tournament organizers have eschewed a shotgun start for tee times, which will likely be between 8-10 a.m. each day. Caddies are allowed but parents aren’t permitted to caddie.

States represented in the field are the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana, Wisconsin and Texas.

Neither defending champion is in the field. Marcus Toennessen of Kaarst, Germany, is too old to defend and 2014 girls winner Jennifer Chang of Cary, N.C., is not entered.

Players in the field representing the Grand Strand include Smith Knaffle and Kelli and Katie Smith of Murrells Inlet in girls divisions, and Patrick Golden of Murrells Inlet, Jackson Cole of Pawleys Island, Matthew Griego of Loris and Holden Grigg and Charlie Wike of Myrtle Beach in boys divisions. Recent Coastal Carolina signee States Fort of Evans, Ga., is also entered.

The tournament entry fee is $165 and includes a welcome gift and lunch.

If the forecast holds true, the tournament should enjoy three pleasant days with high temperatures from the high 60s to mid-70s with little chance of precipitation and mild wind.

The tournament honors George Holliday of the well- known Galivants Ferry family, who was a junior and collegiate golfer before he died in an automobile accident in 1967 at the age of 22. George’s sister, Russell Holliday, is expected to welcome players Thursday morning and hand out trophies Saturday afternoon.

Final Stage set

Roberto Diaz of Myrtle Beach, who is exempt into the Tour Qualifying Tournament Finals based on his finish of 82nd on the 2015 Tour money list, will be the only player from the Grand Strand competing in the finals from Dec. 10-13 at PGA National at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

No other players from the area or Coastal Carolina University who entered Q-School got through the Second Stage.

CCU graduate Charlie Winegardner of Lothian, Md., finished 54th and seven shots from advancing from his Second Stage site Friday with a 4-over 292 at Oak Valley Golf Club in Beaumont, Calif.

Jimmy Brandt of Auburn, Ala., winner of Golf Channel’s Big Break Myrtle Beach, closed with a 3-under 68 at Plantation Preserve Golf Course and Club in Plantation, Fla., but was three strokes shy of advancing with an even-par 284.

Those who did advance through the Second Stage and have an opportunity to become members of the 2016 Tour include Wesley Bryan of Chapin, a USC alum who is half of the Bryan Bros. trick shot duo, Nick Flanagan of Charleston and Mark Anderson of Beaufort. The top 21 and ties from each of five Second Stage sites advanced.

BMW extends, moves

The BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation in the Greenville area has extended relationships with sponsor BMW and the Tour for three years through 2018, and has its dates for 2016 and a new golf course in its three-course rotation.

Next year’s event will be held May 19-22 and The Preserve at Verdae, which is five miles from downtown Greenville, will host three rounds along with four-year tournament host The Reserve at Lake Keowee and nine-year host Thornblade Club in Greer, which also hosts the final round. The host courses are designed by Willard Byrd, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio.

The tournament has generated and distributed more than $11.5 million to more than 200 charities in 15 years, including $759,000 this year. A 2013 economic impact study by Clemson University’s International Institute of Tourism Research and Development estimated the tournament annually generates total direct spending of $4.7 million, supports 139 jobs, generates net local government revenues of $541,048 and net state government revenues of $868,479, and yields $6.744 million in total impact.

Harris, Cassell chosen

A pair of Charlotte residents will comprise the first class inducted into the Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame since 2011.

Dean Cassell, the former president of the National Golf Foundation and the Golf Ball Manufacturers Association, and Johnny Harris, the president of Quail Hollow Club who brought the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship to the club beginning in 2003, have been selected.

They will be inducted in a ceremony on Feb. 11 at Quail Hollow Club.

Cassell, a former minor league baseball pitcher, was president of the golf division of Acushnet Titleist Company of New Bedford, Mass., and president and CEO of British-owned Dunlop Sports in Greenville.

Harris, who is involved in development and property management throughout the Southeast, recruited both the 2017 PGA Championship and 2021 Presidents Cup to Quail Hollow.

Cassell and Harris were selected from nearly 20 nominees. The Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame was founded in 1981 and its members’ plaques are housed in the convention hall of the Carolina Hotel of Pinehurst Resorts.

NJGT visiting area

The Gastonia, N.C.-based National Junior Golf Tour has three upcoming tournaments on the Grand Strand in its College Prep Series.

Players ages 10-18 are eligible. No caddies are allowed and courses are generally set up longer and more difficult than NJGT regular junior events. The College Prep Series point system counts only each player’s top-four finishes, and other events are generally held in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas of N.C.

The tournaments are at the Dunes Golf and Beach Club from Dec. 12-13, General Hackler Course at CCU from Jan. 2-3, and Barefoot Resort Norman Course from Jan. 23-24.

Entry fees range from $115-$150 for members and $125-$160 for non-members. Players can register at Call NJGT director Terry Wiggins at 704-824-6548 for more information.

Academy open house

The Carolinas Leadership Academy at The First Tee of Brunswick County will have an open house from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, to show the community what is being offered and encourage more youth participation. The academy is located at 433 Tarkln Court NW in Shallotte, N.C. Light refreshments and food will be provided.

The academy hosts weekly summer camps and other events for youth.

The First Tee of BC has been chosen as the beneficiary of the Brunswick Sheriff Charitable Foundation’s fifth annual charity ball on March 4.

The event, themed “Diamonds and Denim,” will feature hors d’oeuvres, a buffet dinner, wine, beer, music by the Black Water Rhythm & Blues Band, dancing and a silent and live auction from 6-10 p.m. at 101 Stone Chimney Place in Supply. Tickets are $80 per person. For more information visit, call 910-253-0922 or email

GAA volunteers

Golf Academy of America students and staff assisted the Myrtle Beach community by conducting a food drive for The Community Kitchen of Myrtle Beach, which feeds the area’s homeless, hungry and poor.

In addition to the food drive, campus staff members volunteered for two kitchen shifts to assist in meal preparation and service Friday.

The assistance was part of a national Community Service Day that is included in the Golf Academy of America parent company’s national community service program, which includes a day of volunteering across 72 Education Corporation of America college campuses where more than 5,30 employees serve and give back to their communities.