During the first week of September, more than 3,000 golfers of all ages, shapes, and handicaps converged on the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach for the 26th annual PGA Tour Superstore World Amateur Handicap Championship. They came together for a week of golf, fun and fellowship, and to crown a world amateur handicap champion.
Everyone left with a bag full of memories (if not golf balls), many with a vow to return in 2010. “We see a lot of the same faces year in and year out,” said Steve Mays, vice president of marketing for Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, which conducts the event. “The one constant we hear from players is that they really enjoy competing against the friends they’ve made from previous years.”
Anyone with a legitimate handicap, a week of vacation, $550 to spare, and plenty of energy and patience can play in the World Am. The competition is divided into flights of about 50 players, and each flight stays together throughout the 72-hole event, playing a different course each day. More than 60 of Myrtle Beach’s 100 courses are utilized during the week.
And after each day of play, the players convene at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center for three hours of food and drink, entertainment, product testing, and scoreboard watching. There are prizes to win, celebrities to meet, and good times for everyone.
After 72 holes of play, each flight’s winner advances to the World Championship Playoff at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club for a fifth round on Friday, from which the champion emerges. This year, that honor went to Linda Fuller of Richmond, TX, who shot a net 66 on Friday. Fuller, the third consecutive woman to win the title, played off a 13 handicap in Friday’s round. Fuller’s husband, Roger, is one of just 14 players to have played in all 26 World Amateurs.
Also conducted in Myrtle Beach the same week was a USA qualifier for next year’s International Pairs World Finals in St. Andrews, Scotland. Over 200 two-player teams competed throughout the four days, with the top 10 teams qualifying for a Friday 18-hole finale. Phillip Sanders and Wayne Hudson from tktk city shot a net 135, which put them into a sudden-death playoff that went their way, sending them to St. Andrews next year.
All in all, the first week in September is a terrific week of golf, entertainment, and friendship in Myrtle Beach. For those who have never played in the World Am, it’s an opportunity to feel the rush of competition but in a friendly atmosphere. Do it once, and it just might become a tradition.