The annual PGA Merchandise Show is golf’s biggest showcase, attracting the leading names in equipment, apparel and everything in between.
More than 1,100 exhibitors flooded 400,000+ square feet of the Orange County Convention Center last week for the 2015 edition. It was almost more golf than you can imagine! Beyond the sheer gluttony of the show, it also served as a launching point for golf’s newest, most innovative and sometimes odd products.
Here are the five coolest products we saw at the show.
1. Stat tracking technology has come into vogue in recent years, and the Arccos system is at or near the front of the line, because it does the work for you. The system provides 14 sensors – one for each club – that track every stat imaginable in real time through the Arccos app on your phone. The stats can be accessed during your round and the interface is extraordinarily easy to use. At $399 it isn’t cheap, but if you are a stat-tracking junkie, it’s worth the investment.
2. Admittedly the Aeroe Golfpod is a little funky looking, but otherwise it’s a winner. It has a hard shell design, is less than a foot wide and deep, and is equally functional on a golf or pull cart. If you are a frequent traveler, the best part is you just put the top back on the Golfpod at the conclusion of a trip and it can be checked as luggage at the airport. Throw-in the fact it’s waterproof and offers plenty of storage space and the bag is a winner for $595.
3. Hard to believe anything would help keep you that cool on a hot summer day, but the creators of the Ice Skin golf shirt makes a persuasive case. According to company literature, “The sun’s rays reflect off the jade minerals, throwing thermal energy away from the body. This helps in the cooling process and offers 30 + UPF UV protection.” For $69.99, I’m trying it!
4. The beauty of golf lies in the creativity of its practitioners. Maybe more accurately the beauty lies in the desperation of the game’s players to get better, which leads to products like the Golf Swing Shirt. The compression shirt helps maintain proper distance between your arms and provides the feeling of “connection” that the game’s greatest ball-strikers feel. Touted by three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, the Golf Swing Shirt retails for $69.95.
5. If you want a round of golf to provide a little more exercise but feel like walking will add to much time, we’ve got an answer: the Golf Bike! The bike retails for $995, and it comes with slots for clubs to help keep you balanced and eliminate the possibility of an on-course crash. It’s probably not feasible to bring on your next Myrtle Beach golf trip, but it could add some exercise and improve pace of play at home.
The Dunes Golf and Beach Club has been selected by the United States Golf Association as the host site for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship. The championship is scheduled for May 27-31, 2017.
“The Dunes Golf and Beach Club has a comprehensive and distinguished history of hosting amateur and professional championships,” said Daniel B. Burton, USGA vice president and Championship Committee chairman. “The USGA is pleased to return to this site after four decades, and we know the course will showcase this new championship and what will prove to be a popular event for competitors and spectators.”
Designed in 1948 by Robert Trent Jones Sr., the course features a sandy, rolling terrain along the Atlantic Ocean where trees frame the fairways. The 13th hole, known as “Waterloo,” is considered one of the premier holes in the United States. The course has been renovated three times this century. In 2013, Rees Jones, the architect’s son, converted the greens from bentgrass to bermudagrass and modified tees and bunkers.
The Dunes will be hosting its third USGA championship. In 1962, Murle Lindstrom (Breer) won the U.S. Women’s Open, defeating Ruth Jessen and JoAnn Prentice by two strokes. Lindstrom overcame a five-stroke deficit and rainy conditions in the final round to earn her first professional victory. Jessen held at least a share of the lead following each of the first three rounds. Dorothy Porter claimed the first of her four U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championships in 1977. Porter edged Alice Dye by one stroke when she birdied the par-5 18th. Porter, who won five USGA titles, became the first U.S. Women’s Amateur champion to capture the Senior Women’s Amateur.Read More
Myrtle Beach is golf’s most popular destination, attracting millions of players over the years. Based on our very unscientific assessment, here the 15 things you are LEAST likely to hear someone say during or after a Myrtle Beach golf trip.
1. I couldn’t find a golf course.
2. Hey, I never saw a seafood buffet.
3. I didn’t have a good time.
4. I’m ready to go home.
5. I wish you had played better.
6. Was there any water at Man O’War?
7. I’m bored.
8. I wish we had gone to Pinehurst.
9. I was hoping for more nightclubs.
10. New York Prime wasn’t the best steak I’ve ever had.
11. I thought Tidewater would be prettier.
12. Did you see a Wings or an Eagles?
13. The cart girls at Barefoot aren’t attractive.
14. The greens at the Dunes Club weren’t that fast.
15. Did you see an alligator at Willbrook?
Nobody chooses to play a golf course because of the clubhouse, but we all grumble about a sloppy shop. So, yes, a clubhouse can make a difference in your golf experience
Here are five Myrtle Beach clubhouses that will impact your group in an undeniably positive way:
1. The 15,000+ square foot clubhouse at Thistle, a 27-hole Tim Cate design, is a thing of beauty. The course was inspired by a Scottish links course bearing the same name, and the clubhouse is a fitting extension of the experience. Thistle purchased its Scottish namesake’s original documentation, the official rulebook, and a host of other rare golf memorabilia, including scorecards from the 1820s, at a private auction. It’s very cool and you are making a mistake if you don’t take a few minutes to enjoy this clubhouse.
2. Pine Lakes was Myrtle Beach’s first golf course, and the clubhouse has a stately presence that sets the tone for your day. The two-story, white clubhouse traces the club’s rich history from architect Robert White to the founding of Sports Illustrated and beyond. Take in the history and make sure you stroll through the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame off the back porch.
3. The antebellum style clubhouse at Caledonia is a vital part of the experience at this consensus top 100 course. The clubhouse overlooks the course’s storied 18th hole, and having a drink, no matter your flavor, on the deck while watching players finish their round is a must-do, so much the better if it’s members of your group. The clubhouse is beautiful and the setting is even better.
4. Legends, a Scottish inspired resort, is one of the Myrtle Beach area’s bedrock facilities, and your day starts with a clubhouse that looks like an old world castle. The day only gets better when you play Heathland, Moorland and Parkland, but the blood really starts pumping when the clubhouse comes into view.
5. The back deck at Glen Dornoch, which overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway and a double green shared by the 9th and 18th holes, is one of the best and most relaxing in Myrtle Beach. It’s hard to decide whether you want to play another round or get out and enjoy the water when you are taking it all in on a beautiful spring day.
It’s never too early to begin planning a spring golf trip in Myrtle Beach, and we are here to help with a list of five things you better bring on your next visit to the area.
Don’t read this list expecting to see to extra balls and tees. If you neglect to bring golf supplies, we have plenty of great stores to correct the problem.
1. Let’s start with an easy one – sunscreen. You expect the sun to be shining on your golf vacation, so protect yourself. In short term, you don’t want to spend your trip battling sunburn and there is no need to damage your skin for the long term.
2. Don’t forget to bring trip awards. Whether it’s a trophy for the winner, a moose hat for the player with the highest score, or some other badge of honor, there is no better way to add a little fun to your trip than good-natured competition. The guys in your group will love the beginning of an annual “awards” ceremony.
3. If you are a group leader, you also double as the unofficial “Secretary of Golf,” so come prepared. Bring a list of phone numbers for everyone and physical addresses and phone numbers for your golf courses and accommodations property. Ideally, you would email this information to everyone in advance for safekeeping. It’s a simple organizational step that can reduce the chances of chaos or, even worse yet, a temporarily lost group member!
4. Now we are going to turn the list upside down and make a stunning recommendation. Don’t bring your golf clubs with you! Sound crazy? Sure, but hang with me. If you are flying or traveling in a vehicle that will be only slightly less crowded than a pair of Kim Kardashian’s jeans, ship your clubs. The cost difference isn’t as great as you might think if you are flying, and the convenience is off the charts (you can pick clubs up at your first course or where you are staying). It might sound crazy but consider a place like Ship Sticks.
5. Our fifth recommendation is an intangible one. Bring your good-times alter ego with you to Myrtle Beach. Stress at home and work and the grind of daily life can be immense, but you are taking a vacation to get away from it all. A Myrtle Beach golf trip is about having a good time. Part of fulfilling that expectation resides with the courses you are playing, but part of it lies with you.
When you arrive in Myrtle Beach remember the (sport adjusted) words of the great Yogi Berra, “Ninety percent of golf is mental, the other half if physical.”
Bring these five “items” with you and you will be taking a big step in maximizing the fun on your next Myrtle Beach golf trip.
The Deal: 4 rounds of golf, 4 nights accommodations
Where You Stay: Three-bedroom condos at Crow Creek (quad occupancy)
Package Perks: $100 gift card for each member of your group redeemable for food, beverage, merchandise and/or replays. Free pre-booked replays at Carolina National
Cost: The package ranges from $356 to $436
View From 18th Fairway: This might be the most value-laden package on the Myrtle Beach golf scene. Rivers Edge, an Arnold Palmer design, has been ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, Carolina National is a 27-hole Fred Couples layout that features stunning views of the Lockwood Folly River, Crow Creek might be the area’s most underrated course, and Sandpiper is a former Myrtle Beach Golf Course of the Year. The package features four strong golf courses, the price never exceeds $436, and the $100 gift card offers dollar for dollar savings because that is money you are surely going to spend anyway.
Where Can I Book?: Virtually any Myrtle Beach golf packager can book this deal, but, in this instance, we pulled it from the Traditional Golf Packages website.
As the host of four LPGA events from 1997 to 2000, Wachesaw Plantation East was thrust into the national spotlight almost immediately upon its 1996 opening. If you believe good golf courses identify the best players, Wachesaw aced its opening test.
LPGA legend Karrie Webb dominated at the course, winning in 1997 and 1998 before falling to Rachel Hetherington by a single stroke in 1999.
Throw-in Meg Mallon’s 62 in 1998, which at the time equaled the LPGA record at 11 under par, and Grace Kelly’s popular win in 2000, and it’s not a stretch to say Wachesaw was a shooting star on the Myrtle Beach golf scene.
The glare from the LPGA events and the accompanying television coverage receded over time, but the quality of the course has only improved with maturity.
Wachesaw is a traditional design, featuring tree-lined fairways and a closing stretch that buckled the knees of the LPGA’s best. Holes 15 through 18 are a stern test, highlighted by the risk-reward par 5 17th and one of the area’s best and toughest par 4s, the 430-yard 18th.
The 17th is reachable in two for the long hitting and ambitious, but a creek snaking in front of the green awaits anything less than a purely struck shot.
“It’s challenging,” Wachesaw’s head pro Rob Mosser said of going for the green in two. “But if you can hit that second shot, it’s a pretty (darn) nice reward.”
The reward at 18 is finishing with your dignity intact as it’s a championship worthy test. The hole is long, narrow and a pond looms left of the green. Regardless of pin position, the smart play has your approach in search of the right center of the putting surface.
A par on 18 will cash a lot of checks.
Don’t be daunted by the prospect of playing this Clyde Johnston gem. The fairways are wider than they appear from the tee, the greens are nearly always pristine, and as the course has matured, Wachesaw’s management has made playability a continuing priority.
In 2014, there was a tree removal project that focused on the front nine. The work was most noticeable on the third hole, a long par 5 with a fairway that cants from left to right. The removal of trees and underbrush opened up both sides of the fairway, enhancing its playability without removing the challenge Johnston intended.
The wetlands that are native to coastal South Carolina are prevalent, but arduous forced carries are minimal and fairway mounding often helps funnel balls back into the fairway.
Players that find the short grass off the tee should enjoy a good scoring day on Wachesaw’s smooth greens, which don’t have extreme undulation and provide a true roll.
The commitment to providing a player-friendly experience extends off the course as well. Wachesaw recently renovated its clubhouse, a project highlighted by the addition of a full service restaurant. The food is outstanding and the course already had an outdoor bar area that is one of the best on the Grand Strand, providing ample post-golf options.
The Verdict: If Wachesaw is on your Myrtle Beach golf itinerary, good times await. The course hosted four LPGA events, offers tremendous value, and the conditions are reliably good. Don’t rush out the door when your round is over. The new restaurant and the outdoor bar add to the good times.
The 20th annual Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am raised an event record $461,000 for charity, event organizers announced. The money was donated to the Hootie Foundation and helped fulfill the band’s goal of funding an endowment that will provide educational and charitable opportunities for children in South Carolina for years to come.
“Raising $461,000 in our 20th year and fully funding our endowment are incredible accomplishments, and they wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our friends at Intel, our title sponsor, and Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday,” said Darius Rucker, Hootie’s lead singer and one of country music’s biggest stars. “Intel has been with us since 2008 and its unwavering commitment to K through 12 education, especially math and science, makes it an ideal partner for our foundation. Our goal from the time we teed off at the first Monday After the Masters in 1995 was to create an event that would positively impact children in South Carolina, and we are succeeding.”
The 2014 MAM, played April 14 at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Course, attracted another star-studded field. In addition to band members Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Jim “Soni” Sonefeld and Dean Felber, PGA Tour standouts Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk, Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson, Bruce Smith, Richard Dent and Marcus Allen, and Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, among many others, participated in the event.
All proceeds from the event benefit the Hootie Foundation, a non-profit organization that was created so the band could support charities they have a passion for. The vast majority of the Hootie Foundation’s efforts benefit education in South Carolina and the South Carolina Junior Golf Association.
“The funding of the endowment is a milestone for the event, the band and each of us personally,” said Sonefeld, Hootie’s drummer. “The endowment will leave a legacy that helps benefit kids throughout the state for decades to come, and that is extraordinarily gratifying for each of us.”
The Monday After the Masters, the largest one-day fundraiser in South Carolina, has been played in Myrtle Beach the last 12 years.
The 2015 MAM will be held April 13 on Barefoot’s Dye Course, a layout that has been ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.
For more information, go to www.HootieGolf.com.
About the Hootie Foundation
The Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation, established in 2000, is a private non-profit organization that was created so the band could support charities that were near and dear to their hearts. Among a multitude of philanthropy efforts, the guys focus on public education issues in South Carolina, the state that nurtured their aspirations from the beginning of their career. They aim to support the ongoing fight to even the playing field in educational funding and lend an encouraging hand to all those in need.
The foundation supports hundreds of charities worldwide, donating over $1.8 million to date to multitudes of causes. Their support ranges from building community learning centers to outfitting school marching bands to simply providing educators with the tools they need to nurture children's talents and help them succeed. For more information, go to www.Hootie.com.
The arctic air that has gripped much of the nation shouldn’t stop – even temporarily – your quest for a better golf game. Hugh Royer III, director of instruction at South Carolina Golf School at Shaftesbury Glen, shows you an indoor drill that will pay big dividends when you return to the course this spring.
Lower your handicap, fine-tune your advanced skills, or build a solid foundation for a golf game that will serve you for a lifetime. Wouldn't that just be the perfect Myrtle Beach souvenir? Check it out! And, don't forget, you can get these tips by email too!
Let us know if the comments below!
World Tour Golf Links is a great answer to Christmas wishes as well as a realistic way to fill New Year’s bucket list aspirations.
There’s no greater gift for a golfer than a round at one of the world’s top golf courses. Maybe World Tour was Santa Claus inspired.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the pull to garner an invitation at Augusta National or Pine Valley, or the means to travel across the country then shell out a week’s (or two) salary for golf and accommodations at Pebble Beach or Whistling Straits.
That’s where World Tour comes in. If you want to play Amen Corner, Myrtle Beach’s outstanding replica course is a great option with the advantage of allowing you to play all signature hole at one site in one single round.
Tee off on the Open nine into the spacious fairway reminiscent of the first hole at St. Andrews Old Course and complete the Open nine by walking over a stone bridge over the Swilcan Burn to the ninth green. Make the turn and play replicas of Nos. 11, 12 and 13 at Augusta on the Championship nine.
Spend the rest of your round playing famous lookalikes such as the “postage stamp” hole at Royal Troon or the island green par-3 at TPC at Sawgrass.
It’s an awesome New Year’s fulfillment.
Set just west of the Intracoastal Waterway near U.S. 501, International World Tour comes as close to replicating famous golf holes as possible – you can’t fully replicate Augusta National’s undulations or St. Andrews’ unforgiving, cool breezes.
Ironically, World Tour is a golf experience like none other.
There’s no celebration of the course architect – there really wasn’t one. A contractor yes, but not a true original designer.
The grand, 25,000 square foot clubhouse with flags of the three nations and nine states that are home to the holes that inspired World Tour re-creations looks like the centerpiece of one of golf’s great venues.
With the exception of the Amen Corner sequence on the Championship nine, there’s no consistent flow to the course, which, of course, makes sense. Each hole is a completely new experience. While there’s still a blank for total strokes on the scorecard, a round at World Tour is truly 18 mini experiences.
A few of my favorites at World Tour:
The par-5 fifth hole (No. 15 English Turn) on the Open nine: A great gambler’s hole that doesn’t receive enough notoriety since the PGA Tour left English Turn, water wraps around the green. Your drive must avoid water, too.
The par-3 third hole (No. 8 at Royal Troon) on the Championship nine. Only 126 yards from the back markers, the “Postage Stamp” is an historic hole must of us only get to see once a decade during the British Open. Surrounding bunkers and a tiny, back-to-front sloping putting surface put teeth into the hole.
The par-4 ninth (No. 11 at Bay Hill) on the Championship nine. A classic dogleg left around a water hazard with the green set against the World Tour clubhouse (ask for an Arnold Palmer afterward in the Player’s Grille), the replica is enhanced by terrain similar to Bay Hill’s Orlando locale.
Something else to love about World Tour? Hit your ball into the water on the Sawgrass replica island green or found the creek on the Amen Corner? Second chances are a lot easier to come by at World Tour.
The new year is off to a banner start for two of Myrtle Beach’s premier layouts.
A Robert Trent Jones, Sr, design, the Dunes Club is No. 50 in the biennial rankings while Caledonia, the late Mike Strantz’s first solo design, is No. 73.
Dunes Club, which opened in 1948, is the Myrtle Beach’s area’s most famed layout. From the outset, the course attracted national attention and it raised the profile of the entire destination along it.
Starting with a clubhouse that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, the Dunes Club delivers a special experience. The classically designed course plays over naturally rolling land and offers stunning visuals throughout. The layout’s most popular stretch is Alligator Alley - holes 11 through 13 - capped by the par 5 13th, a 90-degree dogleg right that plays around Lake Singleton.
The course has hosted some of professional golf’s most prominent events, including the U.S. Women’s Open, six Senior PGA Tour Championships, and, most recently, the PGA Professional National Championship.
Caledonia, which plays amidst centuries old live oak trees draped in Spanish moss, is a modern design carved from a piece of land that oozes history and Southern charm. From the moment players enter the property through a half-mile stretch of road lined on both sides by oak trees, the beauty of Caledonia is evident.
The course has enjoyed immense popular and critical acclaim. Strantz’s work is equal parts art and architecture as a he seamlessly crafted the layout on little more than 100 acres of property.
On a course full of memorable holes, the 18th stands above as one of the best finishing holes in all of golf. The multi-tiered green rests in the shadow of an antebellum style clubhouse and requires a forced carry over water.
Architecturally the hole is splendid, but what makes it special is the atmosphere. There are almost always golfers gathered on the clubhouse deck, enjoying a drink and providing a gallery for the final approach.
It’s an idyllic conclusion to a round at one of America’s greatest layouts.
Golf Digest’s team of raters evaluated golf courses on seven categories. Below are the criteria the magazine set for each category:
1. Shot Values: How well does the course pose risks and rewards and equally test length, accuracy and finesse?
2. Resistance to Scoring: How difficult, while still being fair, is the golf course for a scratch player from the back tees?
3. Design Variety: How varied are the golf course's holes in differing lengths, configurations, hazard placements, green shapes and green contours?
4. Memorability: How well do the design features (tees, fairways, greens, hazards, vegetation and terrain) provide individuality to each hole, yet a collective continuity to the entire 18?
5. Aesthetics: How well do the scenic values of the golf course (including landscaping, vegetation, water features and backdrops) add to the pleasure of a round?
6. Conditioning: How firm, fast and rolling were the fairways, and how firm yet receptive were the greens on the day you played the course?
7. Ambience: How well does the overall feel and atmosphere of the course reflect or uphold the traditional values of the game?
The Myrtle Beach golf scene is home to nearly 1,800 holes and standing out amongst the game’s greatest collection of quality courses isn’t easy, but here is a ranking of the five greatest, most epic holes the Grand Strand has to offer.
5. Caveat: I’m a sucker for short par 4s; the risk-reward nature of the tee shot, the thrill of carding a birdie, the frustration of feeling like I gave away strokes (how could I double bogey a 315-yard par 4?! Grrrr!), every course should have at least one.
All of which leads to the surprise member of the list – the ninth hole on the Parkland Course at Legends Resort, which barely edges the more renowned 16th on the Moorland Course.
A dogleg right, the ninth plays 317 yards from the blue tees and 308 from the whites. Play the hole straight and try to further shorten it, and water lurks on the right.
There are six bunkers, including four in the fairway, but the sandy canyon that fronts the green MUST be avoided. There are many ways to challenge the hole, but none are as simple (or easy) as the yardage suggests.
As the famously cynical Gary Van Sickle of Sports Illustrated and Golf.com once wrote, “I'd love to stand on that ninth tee with a bucket of balls and figure out how to play that monster. It's a fun hole.”
Couldn’t agree more.
4. The 14th hole at the Grande Dunes Resort Course plays along the Intracoastal Waterway and has all the elements of a great hole – outstanding design, natural beauty and options.
It’s a long par 3 – 189 yards from the blues, 158 from the whites – that requires a carry over water to a green nestled against the banks of the Intracoastal. It’s a sweat inducing shot on a good day, but when the wind is blowing off the nearby Atlantic Ocean, the challenge increases exponentially.
While the hole is unquestionably difficult, architect Roger Rulewich, mercifully, left room to bailout short and left of the green.
No less an authority than Golf Magazine’s Travelin Joe Passov said of the hole:
“Rulewich did an excellent job and totally surprised me with the pulse-quickening 220-yard, par-3 14th. Downhill tee shot, massive green, gargantuan bunker, superb interaction with the Intracoastal Waterway – impressive.”
3. The third-ranked hole on our list is probably No. 1 in the hearts of most golfers. The 18th hole at Caledonia, a par 4, is the area’s most popular and arguably it’s best. The dogleg right requires a carry over water to a green that sits in the shadow of an antebellum style clubhouse.
The length of the carry depends on how one plays the drive. The closer your drive is to the water on the right, the greater the risk but the shorter the approach to a multi-tiered green.
But the 18th hole at Caledonia is special for reasons beyond architecture. There are almost always people assembled on the clubhouse porch oohing and ahhing based on the quality of the approach. It’s an idyllic scene and the perfect finish at one of the best courses in America.
2. The most iconic hole in Myrtle Beach is the par 5 13th at the Dunes Club, known as Waterloo. For many, it’s unquestionably the best hole in the area. Legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins once ranked it among America’s top 18 holes.
So what makes the 13th so special?
It’s a 90-degree dogleg right that plays around Lake Singleton, which is teeming with alligators. The green is unreachable in two, so it requires three outstanding shots to get on in regulation. The drive is about placement, the second shot tests power and intestinal fortitude (how much of the lake do you want to cut off), and the approach is about precision. Did I mention the green is one of the most challenging on the course?
The 13th hole at the Dunes Club is a hole you must play.
1. If I could play only one Myrtle Beach golf hole, it would be the fourth at Tidewater. The view of Cherry Grove from tee to green is stunning on the slight dogleg left that plays 416 from the tips.
Golf doesn’t get much better than standing in the fairway (it’s wide!) contemplating a long approach to a green protected by six bunkers, including a monster in the front.
The challenge is exceeded only by beauty, and the combination makes the fourth hole at Tidewater my favorite hole in Myrtle Beach.
We've all joked about various ways to pull teeth, but I never believed anyone actually removed a loose tooth by tying a string to it and applying pressure of one sort or another. I was wrong. Try not to cringe while watching this father remove one of his son's teeth by tying one end of dental floss to the loose tooth and the other to a golf ball, which he proceeds to tee up and hit!!
The most significant story to hit Myrtle Beach this year involved the game’s most popular reality show.
Big Break, Golf Channel’s longest running and most popular original series, made its long-awaited appearance in Myrtle Beach in 2014. The show, which featured 12 aspiring young professionals – six men and six women – competing for their Big Break, drew outstanding ratings and produced its share of drama.
The 11-episode series played out on the Dye, Fazio and Love courses at Barefoot Resort and Pawleys Plantation. Jimmy Brandt, who survived five elimination challenges to claim the mantle of Big Break Myrtle Beach champion, won $75,000 and a host of prizes, including an exemption into the PGA Tour’s 2015 Valspar Championship.
While the series winner is always the story, much of the narrative surrounding the show was driven by the, shall we say, brash Anthony Quezada, who wasn’t shy about telling the cameras how much better he than his fellow players, and Charlie Harrison, who won super immunity in the opening episode. Harrison, who for much of the season appeared to be the best male player on the show, never used the immunity, opting to try and earn his way into the semifinals and cash it in for $10,000.
The decision was a mistake, but it was also the type of thing that has made the show compelling viewing.
The series brought national exposure to Grand Strand and will continue to as Big Break Myrtle Beach reruns flood the Golf Channel airwaves throughout the holiday season.
We have long touted Myrtle Beach as golf’s best destination, but a 2014 survey of USA Today and 10Best Readers was nonetheless gratifying.
America’s most widely read newspaper and 10Best.com surveyed readers for a month, asking them to vote on what they believed to be the best golf destination. Readers choose between the likes Myrtle Beach, Kiawah, Pinehurst, Pebble Beach, and the Grand Strand won in a romp.
It was an emphatic statement from the game’s most important ratings panel – golfers. When golfers ranked their favorite destinations based on quality of golf, value and experience, Myrtle Beach easily outdistanced the competition.
It was a tremendous honor for the area and one no one takes for granted. Myrtle Beach golf courses, package providers and accommodations properties have always have always strived to provide the best possible experience to the millions of people who have visit the area.
That commitment is unwavering, regardless of where we finished in the USA Today poll, but it was heartening to stand comfortably atop the vote.
Thank you for your support, and what we promise in return is a continued commitment to the quality of experience we offer you, the traveling golfer.
Over the years the Dunes Club has hosted some of professional golf’s biggest events, including six Senior PGA Tour Championships, the U.S. Women’s Open, and the finals of the PGA Tour’s Q-School.
In 2014, another significant tournament was added to the course’s resume – the PGA Professionals National Championship. The event brought more than 300 club pros (and Golf Channel’s television cameras) to Myrtle Beach last June for a 72-hole event that sent the top 20 finishers to the PGA Championship in August.
Dunes Club and Grande Dunes co-hosted the tournament with the Dunes Club serving as the home of the two post-cut rounds. A classic Robert Trent Jones, Sr., design and a consensus top 100 public course, the Dunes provided ample challenge for nation’s top club pros and stunning visuals for fans watching at home.
Michael Block, from Mission Viejo, Ca., rallied from a three-stroke deficit on the back nine and won the 47th annual event on the second playoff hole. But as much as Block won, so did the Dunes Club and Grande Dunes, venues that proved to be great hosts.
Block, who was 2-under after 72 holes, never broke par on a demanding Dunes Club layout that proved once again that it is more than capable of hosting a high level professional event.
The tournament’s success led to talk of the Dunes Club hosting more prominent PGA events in the future.
Either way, the PGA PNC and the challenge presented by Grande Dunes and the Dunes Club was one of the biggest Myrtle Beach golf stories of the year.
The biggest golf course related story to come out of Myrtle Beach in 2014 was the renovation of Tidewater Golf Club, one of the area’s best and most acclaimed layouts.
Tidewater installed new miniverde greens and expanded every fairway on arguably the Grand Strand’s prettiest course. The four-month project went flawlessly and the course reopened with smooth, fast putting surfaces on October 1.
As part of the project, Tidewater also hired a company to study drainage and perform a soil analysis on each putting complex. The result was vastly improved drainage and a new, custom soil profile that ensures the course’s greens will have optimal conditions in the short and long term.
In addition to expanding the fairways, the greens were restored to their original size, which netted Tidewater an additional 10,000-square feet of putting surface. Throw in an extra 3 ½ acres of sod laid on the course outside of playable areas, the removal of more than 400 trees, and new sand in the all the bunkers and the course received a comprehensive facelift.
Tidewater, the first layout ever named best new course in America by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine, closes 2014 near the top of the Myrtle Beach golf mountain, and should be in pristine condition this spring.
The course plays along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and Cherry Grove Inlet and offers a distant view of the Atlantic Ocean. Tidewater has been ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest and should be on the fast track to regaining its place among the nation’s elite public courses.
In a year that featured several national events in Myrtle Beach, the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters Celebrity Pro-Am still stood out.
Played on April 13, 2014, the 20th annual MAM, as its affectionately known, delivered another star-studded field and ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike Show was again on hand to broadcast the festivities to the world.
In addition to band members Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Jim “Soni” Sonefeld and Dean Felber, PGA Tour standouts Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk, Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson, Bruce Smith, Richard Dent and Marcus Allen, and Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, among many others, participated in the event.
The largest one-day fundraiser in South Carolina, the MAM continues to raise enormous sums of money for charity, making the event as beneficial for the Palmetto State as it is fun. In 2014, the MAM raised more than $450,000 for charity and all of it went to the Hootie Foundation, fully funding an endowment the band created that will distribute charitable donations for decades to come.
Monday After the Masters has been played in Myrtle Beach the last 12 years and will again return to Barefoot Resort’s Dye Course on April 13, 2015.
The MAM has been an institution along the Myrtle Beach golf scene and the event remains as popular as ever. The tournament has sold out its allotment of 6,000 tickets nine years in a row and expects to do so again in 2015.
I missed my tee time with Raymond Floyd, chased the PGA Tour legend down on the first green and double-hit a chip shot in front of a few dozen people.
Those are some of my memories from my first round at Arrowhead Country Club, designed by noted South Carolina architect Tom Jackson with signature input from Floyd.
But almost 20 years later, I have beautiful memories of the challenging course, a water-filled, 27-hole layout along the Intracoastal Waterway only a few minutes from the heart of Myrtle Beach. I’ve had the good fortune to play it several times since my scrambling introduction in November 1994.
Here’s how my round began: I raced out of my car, ran up to the first tee, hurriedly knocked a drive into the left rough then leaped out of my golf cart to hit three more ugly shots before reaching the green to join my playing partner, Floyd, who didn’t seem at all amused.
Let me explain. As sports editor of The Sun News, Myrtle Beach’s daily newspaper, I had the good fortune to receive an invitation from Arrowhead ownership to join Floyd for golf on the Lakes nine at the grand opening. Arrowhead, which opened with 18 holes, opened a third nine soon after.
Nice perk, right? Of course. And the timing was perfect for Arrowhead and Floyd, who was in town for the Senior Tour Championship at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, which would begin the next day.
It wasn’t so good for me, who was pretty much working around the clock, putting together the newspaper’s fat, special section on the tournament and planning additional 32-pagers after each of the four rounds. I got called into a meeting at the office just when I had planned to leave with a little time to spare for my round at Arrowhead.
Fortunately, I settled down from there and made seven pars to go along with an embarrassing T.C. Chen moment at a par-3 (either No. 5 or No. 8) when I double-hit a chip and made a second double-bogey. OK, I do remember hitting one well-struck draw off the tee on a dogleg left. I shot 40. Pretty good for a sports writer, to paraphrase Floyd, as I hustled back to my car to go back to work.
That’s about all I remember from a frantic, though enjoyable, day.
Playing with a harried sports writer the day before the tournament didn’t appear to have any negative impact on Floyd’s game – he won the season-ending tournament, outlasting Jim Albus in a five-hole playoff. Floyd was patient playing with me and patient in the playoff.
Anyway, below are three holes – one on each nine – you won’t forget after a round at Arrowhead. One last tip: try to get to the course with enough time to register in the pro shop and walk leisurely to the first tee.
No. 3 Lakes, 556 yards, par-5: This is a par-5 where 5 is a great score. A thin lagoon extends down the entire left side just off the fairway then crosses in front of the green. Big hitters can go for the green over the water, but there’s little margin for error. Taking the safer, three-shot route, which finishes with a tricky approach to the left over the water, isn’t easy, either.
No. 4 Cypress: 355 yards, par-4: A fun, short hole that requires two tests of nerves. The short tee shot must be hit accurately to the left of two pot bunkers and a small river that branches off the nearby Intracoastal Waterway to set up an approach – framed by a view of the Waterway – back over the water to a small, undulating green surrounded by four bunkers.
No. 5 Waterway, 387 yards, par-4: The Waterway stretches down the entire left side of the hole, one of only a handful of holes on the Grand Strand that feature the Waterway as a hazard. Bunkers on the left and right frame a generous fairway. The diagonally shaped green is protected by four bunkers, three In front and one behind.
Now that the final putt has dropped on Big Break Myrtle Beach, we can look back on the 11-episode season that produced outstanding golf, questionable decisions, heartbreak and good TV.
Here are our very unofficial post-show awards!
The Player I Want on My Side in a Street Fight: This one is easy – give me Jimmy Brandt. I don’t know if he will be the best player to come out of the show, but he never, ever gave in. He competed in win-or-go home matches five times in 11 episodes and always advanced. The guy is a battler.
Shot That Changed the Narrative of the Show: Anthony spent much of the season antagonizing his cast mates. His antics made him a marked man, but the size of the target seemed to decrease when he chipped in from off the green to beat Dave Markle in an elimination challenge. After facing elimination twice in the first four episodes, he didn’t face the guillotine again until the penultimate episode, allowing his character to develop.
Most Likely to Make it on Tour: In the Male Division, my money is on Charlie Harrison. He is young, has a Wake Forest pedigree, and seemed to have the most game. If you are looking for the next Tommy Gainey or Matt Every to emerge from Big Break, Charlie is most likely to succeed.
To some degree the question has already been answered for the female cast members as Katy Harris had status on the LPGA Tour in 2014, making seven cuts in 11 starts with a career best finish of 32nd at the Marathon Classic. But if we are talking long term, I’ll go with Emily Tubert. A three-time All-American at Arkansas, she has the length to compete and with six collegiate wins and a U.S. Women’s Am Pub Links title to her credit, she clearly knows how to win.
I Wish I Had That Choice to Make Over Award: This one is easy. Charlie’s decision not to use Super Immunity when it would’ve given him a pass into the semifinals was a fatal mistake, and Jimmy made him pay. Confidence is great, but golf is a fickle game and Big Break is an unpredictable show. One wayward swing, or in Charlie’s case a poor chip and putt, can send you home. He should’ve swallowed his pride and used his exemption into the semifinals.
Hero Shot of the Season: There were a lot of candidates, but I’ll go with Jimmy’s putt to eliminate Anthony in the semifinals. He went into the hole trailing by a stroke, and had an approximately 12-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole at the Dye Course to win the match. He drained it. Clutch, clutch shot.
D’Oh, I can’t Believe I Just Did That Award: Unfortunately, Toph’s skulled shot out of the bunker on the 10th hole in the championship match wins the dubious honor. The match was all-square heading to the back nine, and Toph’s shot, which ended up in the water, handed Jimmy a one-up lead and started a run that saw Jimmy win three of fives holes to seize control. Runner-up: the drive Anthony pulled off the planet on the final hole of his elimination challenge in the semifinals, leading to his elimination. Next time you play the Dye Course, stand in the fifth fairway and look toward the eighth tee box to get a feel for just how far he hooked the ball.
We’ve All Been There Award: Speaking of hooks, it was painful to watch Christian Heavens completely lose his swing on episode seven. He hooked the ball out of play twice during an immunity challenge, and with an elimination challenge even going into the final hole, he hooked the ball in the water, effectively ending the match. We’ve all had it happen, but it’s uncomfortable to watch someone struggle with it on a public stage.
Best of luck to the entire cast as they resume their respective golf careers.
Tell us about your favorite moments from Big Break Myrtle Beach in the comments below!
A season that began with the possibility of a life-changing opportunity for 12 aspiring professional golfers was reduced to a pair, Jimmy and Toph, who seemed to have developed as genuine a friendship as a reality show will allow.
That dynamic made the show’s traditional opening at the breakfast table all the more awkward as they prepared to compete for the opportunity to win Big Break Myrtle Beach, and the more than $100,000 in cash and prizes that awaited the winner.
The entire cast reunited at Barefoot Resort’s Fazio Course, which hosted the finale.
(As an aside, if you want to humor yourself, when the cameras cut to the cast, pay attention to Anthony’s body language. He looks like he would rather be undergoing a root canal than watching Toph and Jimmy play.)
Hosts Tom Abbot and Paige Mackenzie welcomed everyone to the Fazio Course, outlined the format – 18 holes of match play – and told them what the winner would receive. After the obligatory comments about the necessity of winning, we went to golf and there were immediate fireworks.
Jimmy’s tee shot plugged in the soft morning sand in a fairway bunker on first hole. He blasted back into the fairway and recovered to hit the stick with his third shot! The ball rolled back to approximately four feet. It was a stellar shot.
Unfortunately, Jimmy missed the putt and went one down after Toph made par.
The miss set the tone for the opening nine holes. Jimmy was clearly the better player from tee to green, but he managed to win only the fifth hole, a demanding par 4. The Auburn, Al., native missed three makeable putts on the front nine, including efforts from inside eight feet on the sixth and ninth holes that he left short.
The match went to the back nine all-square. Would Jimmy’s struggles with the flat stick come back to haunt him, or would Toph’s battle with his swing continue to rage on?
It didn’t take long for answers to reveal themselves. After both drove the ball into a bunker on the 10th hole, Toph hit his worst shot of the show, skulling the ball into the water. Jimmy, who was safely around the green, won the hole and went 1-up.
Toph’s struggles continued on the 11th, this time with the putter. After both hit indifferent tee shots, Toph three-putted for bogey, gift-wrapping another hole for Jimmy, who went 2-up with seven to go.
After both made birdies on 12, Jimmy squandered another good opportunity for birdie on the 13th and conceded that he had no confidence at all in his putter. He was visibly frustrated but leading, and relief was on the horizon.
Jimmy won the 14th hole with a par to go 3-up, and halved the 15th, despite hitting a ball into the water. He hit a great approach on 15 and finally made a putt in the 10-foot range to seemingly dash any hopes Toph had of making a miracle comeback.
Three down with three to go, and Toph made par on the par 3 16th that left Jimmy with a seemingly easy two-putt to win. Despite having a stranglehold on the match, Jimmy couldn’t shake his demons with the putter. After running the first putt three feet by, he stunningly missed the comebacker, allowing Toph to win his first hole since the opener.
Had the door been opened for a miraculous finish?
Jimmy hit an outstanding drive on the 17th hole and lasered his approach to 4 feet, a great shot under the circumstances. Meanwhile, Toph’s approach plugged in a bunker and he couldn’t get up and down for par. He conceded Jimmy’s putt, ending the match with a 3&1 loss.
Jimmy, who perpetually seemed to be on the brink of elimination, certainly earned the crown of Big Break Myrtle Beach champion. If not for a balky putter, he could’ve put together an outstanding round of golf, but, much like he did throughout the season, he persevered and made enough shots to win.
It was a gritty effort, emblematic of his play throughout the season.
For his part, Toph had a bad day. He was never able to dial in his swing and he paid the price, but it didn’t diminish what had been a great effort throughout the season.
Big Break Myrtle Beach is in the books. Now it’s time to follow all the participants’ professional careers. Is there a Tommy Gainey, a Matt Every or a Ryann O’Toole among this cast of Big Break players?
We'll be watching.
Classic Swing Golf School’s Ted Frick explains how the fundamentals of throwing a punch can help improve your swing in a tip that highlights the importance of the right arm in generating power in your golf swing.
Lower your handicap, fine-tune your advanced skills, or build a solid foundation for a golf game that will serve you for a lifetime. Wouldn't that just be the perfect Myrtle Beach souvenir? Check it out! And, don't forget, you can get these tips by email too!
The Caddy Girls, who have been familiar to members of the Myrtle Beach golf community for a number of years, received a shot in the arm from a recent appearance on ABC's Shark Tank. With so many people talking about the Caddy Girls, we wanted to introduce you to them via a monthly Meet the Caddy Girls profile, starting with the lovely and talented Alex H! Enjoy.
Why did you want to be a caddy girl?
To meet interesting people all from over.
What is your favorite Myrtle Beach golf course?
True Blue would have to have to be my favorite golf course, so beautiful.
Most memorable experience as a caddy girl?
Loews Miami Beach Hotel Celebrity Golf tournament for charity. We help raise money for DonorChoose.org while bonding with our team of 30 other beautiful caddy girls.
What do you do when you aren't caddying?
Im a Hooters girl, also I bartend on our Gin Gipsies traveling bar team, and competing for swimsuit international.
What's the worst shot you've ever seen?
One time this lovely golfer decided to put his ball into someones home.
What is one thing you've learned while being a Caddy Girl – about golf or the people you are caddying for – that you have found surprising?
Everyone is different, never expect it to be the same thing from your golfers, always have fun but more than anything keep it sharp and classy.
After nearly three months of great golf, stunning eliminations and, of course, heartbreak, we’ve reached the finale of Big Break Myrtle Beach. Jimmy and Toph have survived multiple elimination challenges, but only one will claim the mantle of Big Break Myrtle Beach champion and earn the bounty that awaits the winner. While you are awaiting the finale, which will air Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on Golf Channel, enjoy a quick primer! Extra: Jimmy vs. Toph By The Numbers
Jimmy vs. Toph.
It’s winner take all on the finale of Big Break Myrtle Beach.
Here is a look at the championship match by the numbers:
0 - What the loser receives as a reward for finishing second. Big Break is the ultimate winner-take-all competition, which only heightens the stakes.
1 – Number of exemptions the winner will receive into PGA Tour events, in this case the 2015 Valspar Championship.
3 – The number of times Jimmy and Toph won elimination challenges despite taking penalty strokes. Toph twice survived penalty strokes, including his semifinal triumph over Emily. His most harrowing brush with elimination came during a win or go home match against Katie Detlefsen in episode 3. He took a penalty stroke and could only watch as Katie missed an approximately seven-foot putt that would’ve beat him. Jimmy took an unplayable lie during the week 5 elimination challenge, but a three-putt and chunked chip from Carolin allowed him to advance.
4 – Number of times Jimmy has survived an elimination match entering the finale. He has typically summoned his best golf when necessary, but in an event as fickle as Big Break, where there is a little time to overcome a great shot by an opponent or a your own miscues, there is some good fortune involved in skirting elimination that many times.
6 – Number of mini-tour events Jimmy won in 2012-13
20 – Over/Under on the number of times Toph called himself an idiot after hooking a hybrid into the water on the final hole of his elimination challenge against Emily when all he needed to do was play it safe.
$75,000 – the amount of cash the winner will receive, in addition to the exemption into the tour event and full exempt status on the 2015 Swingthought.com Tour, among many other gifts.
200,000+ - The number of people who cheered Jimmy when he eliminated Anthony in the penultimate episode.Read More