Year after year, avid golfers make their annual trek to Myrtle Beach the last week in August. But this isn’t just a buddy trip. This is the world’s largest and possibly most logistically miraculous golf event on the planet, now celebrating its 35th year.
More than 3,000 men and women golfers will tee off and play four different courses over four days, hustling to courses north, south, and central around this players’ heaven. This year, it’s August 27-31.
So what is it like?
I’m going to find out—this is my first time—and I can’t wait. But everyone I’ve interviewed says it’s the highlight of his or her golf year.
Players from all over the world are divided into flights by gender, age, and handicap, meaning each flight consists of about 48 players of similar ability. Each flight will play a different course each day, Monday through Thursday (shotgun start). The leaders are paired on Thursday, where, after the round, each flight champion is honored. Then all the flight champs gather for a fifth day tourney of champs for the overall champion of the 2018 Myrtle Beach World Amateur. Top players in each flight receive a trophy and gift card. Other prizes include daily low net, long drive, closest-to-the-pin, closest-to-the-line, and hole-in-ones.
According to Chris King, publicist for the event, “Players are assigned tee times for the championship round. Players use different tees based on division (men, women, seniors etc) and are assigned a course index based on the tees they are playing. We try to pair players up with similar handicaps for the championship round and men and women mostly play together, though there are some exceptions based on numbers.”
Pretty exciting, but that’s not all. They have recently added gross flights (for the scratch and low handicappers) and non-scoring flights (for those who just want to come down and relax). They also have a two-person event where your teammate might be in a different flight (the grand prize is a golf trip to Ireland). And if you’re part of larger group, you can even arrange for your own group’s event-within-the-event (again across mixed flights).
Flights Divisions (assigned by handicap index):
– Men (49 & Under)
– Senior Men (50-59)
– Mid Senior Men (60-69)
– Super Senior Men (70-79)
– Seasoned Seniors (80+)
– Just For Fun (no scores/handicaps)
– Gross and Senior Gross (separate championships)
What about sandbaggers?
Since they’ve been running this event for 35 years, the organizers know what to look for in regard to shady handicaps. The MBWA secures everyone’s official handicap before the event. Every round is reviewed daily and if someone falls too far out of the realm of a realistic score, three things may happen:
- Let the player continue to play in the competition.
- Bring the player in to meet with the committee and to discuss his/her low net scores (with the possibility of retroactive reduction of handicap).
- Disqualify the player from competition.
Do you like free dinner and drinks and goodies?
So far, so good, but it gets better. First of all, when you arrive each player gets a welcome swag bag including a World Am golf shirt and much more. Each night, competitors and their guests converge on the World’s Largest 19th Hole at tournament headquarters, the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center, where Myrtle Beach restaurants provide a taste of the Grand Strand, and local and national breweries supply liquid refreshment—all included in your entry fee. At this 19th Hole, there are also daily drawings for various golf and non-golf prizes, as well as plenty of time to meet and greet so many folks who share your love of the game. Enjoy:
– Open bar including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
– Golf exhibit that includes tournament sponsors, emerging golf products and local businesses.
– Live music and special guest speakers.
– Instruction provided by leading golf instructors.
-Every participant will be eligible for over $25,000 in random drawing prizes on site at the 19th Hole.
Course assignments come a week before the event, from about 60 possible venues, (because the organizers are flighting by the most recent handicap indices). You could practice on all four if you arrive early and can secure a tee time, but that’s a time and money commitment I won’t be making. An itinerary of Saturday, August 25 to Friday, August 31 allows me a day at the range, a day on one of the courses (Sunday), and hopefully a restful sleep, and then on to the event—Monday through Thursday.
At age 70, I’ll be a whippersnapper among the Super Senior Men (70-79). The course tees and length for each fight coincide with that flight’s ability. My goal is to finish in the top half the first day and try to improve my position daily. But then, I’ve seen me play, so anything is possible.
Come join in the fun.
If you’re interested, you can still sign up for the 2018 event. Registration closes August 2, but if you sign up by June 28, you’ll save $50. To learn all about it, please visit myrtlebeachworldamateur.com
My next story will come from the site itself, with interviews of fellow golfers and details of competition in a four-day event.