Monday, August 26, 2013

6a00d8341caaef53ef0177445df071970d-800wiGolfers flock to Myrtle Beach year-round. For one week in August, more than 3,300 do.

The reason? The World Amateur Handicap Championship. 
The format can only happen in a place like Myrtle Beach, where golf courses are almost as common as taxis in New York City. Players are divided by handicap into more than 60 flights and sent out to one of 60 tournament courses -– which barely make up half of the courses on the Grand Strand. Each flight takes on a different course for four days with the winners playing an 18-hole playoff Friday. This year the Pete Dye course at Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach hosts Friday's finale.
Now in its 30th year, the World Am has experienced an 8 percent climb in participation this year for its largest field since 2008, according to The Sun News. The event is called the "World" Amateur for a reason. There are 27 countries represented, with one participant traveling from Sweden for his 20th consecutive appearance. 
Tournament golf is rough, especially for the recreational player who has never had to putt out those "gimmes." But the hosts at Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday have thought of everything to help competitors unwind from a long day on the course. The "19th Hole" is at the massive Myrtle Beach Convention Center, (check out the PDF of the venue setup for the week), and each night live music and food from local restaurants mix with golf vendors, guest speakers and club demos for a perfect way for a golfer to spend the evening. You won't be thinking about that triple-bogey here. 
Along with four rounds of golf, five if you're lucky, each participant receives a gift bag that includes a jacket, golf shirt, hat, pair of socks, swing lesson, sleeve of balls and -- if that wasn't enough -- $20 to spend at the nearby 70,000-square foot PGA Tour Superstore. 
Sound like fun? If you're over 17 years of age and have a USGA handicap (or foreign equivalent) then you're all set. Don't have a handicap? Use the Handicap Tracker to get ready for 2014.

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