The Myrtle Beach Golf App

Myrtle Beach golf app

It wasn’t very many years ago the only way a visiting golfer could arrange a last minute tee was to rush back to the hotel room, flip through the phone book and hope to catch the pro shop before they closed for the day (or - heaven forbid - use the pay phone at the golf course!).

Thank goodness we have moved beyond that with all the new technology you find on smart phones. Picture this scenario: you and your buddies are at the turn and grabbing a hot dog at the snack bar. You open an app on your phone and do a quick search for nearby courses. You see the that incredible tract you remember reading about in Golf Digest that runs out along the Intracoastal Waterway and take a moment to view a video of the finishing holes. Your buddies take a look, passing your phone around - they agree that tomorrow’s round must happen there.

A few simple taps later, available tee times are displayed and in less than 2 minutes, the foursome is booked for the next day. Thanks to modern smart phone technology - we are there and you too can book golf that easily. Just join the tens of thousands who have downloaded the brand new Myrtle Beach Golf App (for Android and iPhones) and you have it all at your fingertips — literally!  It will be like moving from persimmon to metal woods.

The app gets even better since you can locate the nearest Irish pub (the app uses your onboard GPS to figure all this out) and steak joint.

Like adjustable drivers and laser range finders, the Myrtle Beach Golf App is the future — get it now so you and your buddies won’t be left behind searching for the pay phone in the clubhouse.

Get Ready for Spring 2014

Spring is almost here and considering the brutal weather all my friends up north have been experiencing it is time to make your Myrtle Beach golf reservation now for March, April and May while there are still some preferred tee times available.

Myrtle Beach golf is unique in that you can rely on the weather to be great. While your course at home is covered with snow and ice, the green fairways of some of the greatest courses in the world are calling you. It’s real easy, just navigate to our booking system pick out the courses you want to play and book them. Or go to one of ours many providers and have them do it for you. Pick out the restaurants you want to eat at, the entertainment you are interested in and you can plan your whole trip from our On The Green web site for Myrtle Beach Golf, www.onthegreenmagazine.com.

There is no place in the world that offers you as much diversity in pricing and versatility as Myrtle Beach. With over a hundred courses to choose from you can be certain to find just the right course and golf package for you.

There are many deals out there this Spring, like free replays and “buy four - get one free.” You can stay in a hotel or many of the luxurious condo’s on or off the course. With so many wonderful restaurants, bars and clubs after golf is always fun in Myrtle Beach. So look through our web-site, pick out a tee time at the courses of your choice and make this Spring your best ever In Myrtle Beach.

Also if your looking for a teaching facility some of the best teachers in the world are at your disposal. You can do a two or three day school, tune up you game after a long winter layoff and take to the lush green fairways. There are many direct flights into our spanking brand new airport with excellent fares.

You can now travel with On The Green on your phone or tablet by downloading our new app. Search for “Myrtle Beach Golf” in iTunes or Google Play, or

Go here for iPhones or go here for Android phones. Much more about our app to come.

Don’t wait; make your plans and I hope to see you in Myrtle this Spring.

The Snow Birds Are Coming

What makes the Myrtle Beach area so inviting during December, January and February is the incredible value of the monthly condo rentals and golf. Usually the weather is mild enough to play most days during those months and there are all sorts of great winter golf specials and fabulous condo monthly rates that makes leaving the bitter cold of NY, New England, and the northern Midwest a no brainer. We love the snow birds and so do the many restaurants and entertainment venues that offer snow bird specials. Literally every golf course has a special deal; just go to the On The Green website for a rundown.

Also it’s time to be thinking about your spring golf package, especially if you want the really good tee times. Book early and get the best deals.

Our own Dustin Johnson won this week, so a shout out to him for a job well done.

Our kiosk in Golf Dimensions is in full swing so run on by for great Golf Dimensions deals for this Christmas and then stop by the On The Green kiosk to book a discounted round of golf and get a free subscription to Golf Digest Magazine.

The 30th Anniversary World Amateur Handicap Championship was a huge success Hats off to Bob Lecompt for his special award. He was the force behind the Championship, first when he was at Dupont then later as tournament director. Our golfing community works hard to make all the participants feel special. Our participating courses are always in pristine shape and the golfers have a true tournament experience. They also have a ball at the convention center every night meeting new and old friends and enjoying the festivities. If you haven’t participated in the World Am give it a try in 2014.

Well folks, hit them straight and have a wonderful holiday season. I will be looking to seeing all you snow birds at the courses and restaurants this winter.

Behind the Scenes of the First World Am

imageThirty years ago Marvin Arnsdorff, who was then the South East manager for Golf Digest and I were sitting in a bar in a Atlanta enjoying a couple of cold ones talking about our joint efforts with On The Green Magazine and Golf Digest. We had already established advertising sections for Myrtle Beach that were running four times a year in Golf Digest. We began talking about which was then the slowest time in Myrtle Beach, the last week in August when the kids were heading back to school and well before the golfers made their way to Myrtle Beach for the fall season. What could we do to to get golfers to come to Myrtle Beach at that time? Maybe some sort of tournament, an event that would be appealing enough to encourage golfers to make the exodus to the Myrtle Beach for a week. We discussed many ideas but the thing that really stuck was every golfer has a handicap or should. It is the one thing that enables players of different skills to play together for a few bucks and make everything fair. How many times have you heard on the tee. “How many strokes will you give me?”

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So we decided to make handicap the theme. I am not sure who but one of us said, The Amateur Handicap Championship, which evolved to the World Amateur Handicap Championship. We then decided to take it to Golf Digest to see if they would support the idea and promote it. If they would, then I would organize it through my Myrtle Beach based golf magazine, On The Green a team which would develop, organize and put on the event. It all sounded so simple. I was in for a shocking surprise.

Well we did organize our team and I convinced a scratch golfer, owner of the famous Old Pro’s Table a golf themed restaurant in North Myrtle Beach, Joe Hackler to be the tournament director. Well the applications came in. A hundred, then two hundred, then four hundred. I don’t know what we expected but 400 was our ultimate goal. In the mean time we contacted the Myrtle Beach Convention Center because it was the only facility that could accommodate that many players, and staff to include gigantic score boards and all the people that we need to write in the scores as well as the room to entertain the players on a nightly basis. We also realized that many of the players would bring their spouses who, if they didn’t play golf, could enjoy Myrtle Beach’s beautiful beaches. We worked on getting volunteers. My publication’s editor Gloria Marquez, God bless her wonderful soul, was fantastic from the beginning. Organizing the volunteers, making sure of the accommodations were made available, and organizing the applicants according to fights.

On the promotion front Golf Digest was doing a terrific job, the applications continued to pour in, 500, 550, 600. They landed a major sponsor Rawlings Golf, the giant baseball equipment company that was now in the golf manufacturing business. In the end we hit 684 players; then the fun began. None off us had any idea how difficult the logistics of moving that many players around. Many came as foursomes but had different handicaps so they were playing different golf courses. We ended up calling on even more volunteers to drive them around. Then there was the issue of gathering the scores and getting them back to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center and posted. Then there was the whole food and beverage thing. We had solicited my wife Judy’s Uncle Jimmy from Augusta, Georgia who did many of his famous BBQ spreads during the Masters including the Golf Digest’s hospitality house. He was up all night roasting his pigs, preparing his succulent spicy potato salad and coleslaw. We had five bars set up all around the Convention Center serving beer which was provided free by Better Brands, the local Budweiser distributor.

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It was overwhelming as the 684 players, many bringing their spouses, arrived at the Convention Center. There were suddenly over a 1,000 people in in one big room in search of scores, food, and drink. We all had to pitch in, Marvin, myself, my wife Judy, my brother Jack, all my employees, the volunteers, even the publisher of Golf Digest, Jay Fitzgerald got behind one of the bars to serve drinks. How we made it through without a major hitch was short of a miracle. Unbelievable as it sounds a number of players in this year’s 2013 tournament also played in that first tournament 30 years ago. I was 43 years old, had a slim waist and a hell of a lot more hair. This year there are well over 3,000 players from all over the world.

What an achievement. A simple idea conceptualized over a few beers would become the worlds largest on site amateur golf tournament. The bottom line for the Myrtle Beach area is that it produces millions of dollars in revenue during traditionally one of the slowest weeks of the year. The World Am has players from almost every country in the World. Along with our magnificent golf courses, it has helped make Myrtle Beach the Golf Capital of the world.

After that first year I had enough sense to go to Cecile Brandon and Clay Brittain, who were at that time the the force behind Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, the non-profit organization that represents the all member golf courses in Myrtle Beach, with a proposal. “I bequeath to you this concept along with Golf Digest’s and my magazine On The Green’s support and involvement to move it forward as a community effort.” They did just that. Bill Golden, who worked for the promotional arm of Golf Digest was eventually hired to run the tournament. Bill is now President of Myrtle Beach Golf Holliday. With the help of Golf Digest they scored Dupont as a sponsor. That brought to us the big corporate name along with Bob LeComte the individual picked by Dupont to oversee the tournament. Bob was fabulous. It became his passion and he eventually became tournament director. Later he retired and moved to Myrtle Beach

So between Golf Holiday, Bill Golden, Bob LeComte and the fantastic golf community of Myrtle Beach, the World Am, now the Golf.Com World Amateur Handicap Championship grew in stature and credibility. It is now celebrating its 30 year anniversary. I am proud of my community and am humbled by those who recognize Marvin and I as founders. I personally wish all the participants the best of luck especially those who played in that first tournament 30 years ago. Participants will experience the fantastic courses, Myrtle Beach’s renowned hospitality, the Myrtle Beach’s Convention Center’s gala affairs with electronic scoring, all sorts of food and drink, and fantastic prizes. My dear friend Marvin and I think back to that first event 30 years ago and say, “We’ve come a long way baby.”

The next Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship takes place on AUGUST 26-30, 2013. Get more info and register here.

My Favorite Memory in 30 Years of Attending the Masters

The Masters is as close to theatre as you can get. The stage is spectacular. With its magnolias, large powerful oaks, and blooming azaleas, Augusta National is more like a botanical garden than a golf course. Every corner of this course is a perfect theatrical setting for golf — a set designer’s dream, but the “set designer” was also the immortal golfer, Bobby Jones.

It was in Augusta in 1986…

At No. 2, a par 5, thousands of fans are perched on the gigantic mounds around the green and line the fairways. The players, some in knickers, others in vivid colors and, of course, some in dark, subdued hues, leaving the magnificent Augusta National clubhouse, just as actors leave the sanctity of backstage. Smiling as they are greeted by the enthusiastic crowds, they come on stage to play their most exciting role of the year.

Act 1: The glamorous leading man, Seve Ballesteros, enters and dominates stage center. The flamboyant Spaniard, the perfect matinee idol, is magnificent — Wide shoulders, chiseled profile, With a determined charge to his Walk. This fine athlete hits the ball With such grace and authority that it’s sheer joy for us mere mortals to Watch. His appeal to the ladies is all too understandable. Valentino, Gable, Power had nothing on this guy, Whose every move and gesture, designed or not, Whips the ladies into a frenzy.

Off to stage left is Tom Kite charming, curly-haired, always the perfect gentleman, the straight man — certainly not the star and almost unreal With his demeanor. A great golfer and always a top money winner, but never dominating center stage.

Sunday, the 8th, my wife, Judy, and I are following Ballesteros and Kite. The former is leading the tournament and he knows it. We make our Way behind the green at No. 9. Seve is on a knoll on the right side of the green. Tom hits a 9 iron and it takes two big and two small bounces and rolls into the hole for an eagle. I leave my feet as the full audience roars its approval.

Out of the corner of my eye I catch Seve’s eyes riveted to the green as if he Was memorizing the flight of Kite’s shot. Then he disappears from sight and moments later his ball heads for the green. The crowd is hushed with anticipation as the ball hits the green an inch or two from where Tom’s ball landed then 2 large and 2 small bounces, and it rolls into the cup. I just stand there in disbelief, as the crowd gives forth With the most tremendous roar I had ever heard in all my life — to that point. They both eagled! It appeared that Kite was just once again upstaged by Seve. At that exact moment, on 9, Jack Nicklaus, the 46-year-old has been, remarks to the crowd — knowing full well that both and Kite had eagled — “Can you roar as loud as that if l sink this?” He did — and they did!

Act 2: Seve bogied 9 but still had a commanding lead — almost insurmountable. Only Kite and Norman stood a chance. I was eating a pimento cheese sandwich along side the N0. 8 tee when a roar came form No. 13. I knew it was Jack, so Judy and I began working our way over to our usual spot on No. 15. Little was I to know that I was walking towards a spot that would enable me to personally witness and experience the greatest moment in sports history.

Nicklaus birdied again. Each roar brought thousands of people running to see what the heck was going on. Jack hit a good drive on 15 and certainly had a chance to put it on in two, and When he pulled out a long iron the crowd murmured with anticipation. He soon backed away with his familiar MacGregor 4-iron. Then Jack made his usual great move through the ball as 50,000 eyes Watched its descent. The moment it landed a deepening roar that probably could have been heard in Atlanta, so electrified the crowd that at that exact moment Augusta National, its setting, Seve, Kite, Norman, the people — everything and everyone disappeared. From that moment on there was only one person out there. Enter Jack Nicklaus - Center Stage!

He made the putt for eagle, and the roar turned to tears. Men and women started to cry, kids just started to scream. You had to be thereto believe it — Thomson’s home run, Namath and the Super Bowl, Larry Bird’s great 3 points, Providence College Winning the NIT in 1960, North Carolina State the NCAA in 1985. Nothing I had ever experienced in life had prepared me for the next 56 minutes.

Act 3: For the next 56 minutes, it was a wave of people. Within seconds thousands upon thousands of people surrounded the par 5 16th. We couldn’t even get close. We decided on the big hill to the left of 17 Where We could see the 17th green and the 15th. We had just made it to the top of the hill as Seve was about to hit his second shot. He had to be affected by What Nicklaus Was doing. He seemed to have a problem With his club selection, and he hooked the ball into the middle of the lake. There was an instant roar that only lasted for a few seconds — not because he had hit a bad shot, but because their hero, Jack, actually had a chance to win. The tension and excitement increased beyond anything I had ever experienced. We could not see the 16th tee or green from our vantage point on 17, just the gigantic scoreboard that looked like a marquee:

Nicklaus…
Ballesteros…
Kite…
Norman…
Yes — Nicklaus did have a chance.

Then it happened. The roar of the crowd on 16 that had to be heard around the World. In every living room in America people Were jumping out of their couches and favorite chairs, letting out with their very best yell. Nicklaus almost aced 16. He had a tap-in for birdie, but those of us at No. 17 didn’t know for sure.

All hell broke loose in and around 16 and this little old lady screamed “it’s a hole in one!” Judy and I just stood there in shock for at least 4 to 5 minutes. Thousands of people at Augusta National had thought that Jack’s shot went in - then another deafening roar as the scoreboard confirmed that he had birdied 16.

Not even “Arnie’s Army” could compare to Jack’s friends at Augusta. Everyone on that golf course was rooting for Nicklaus. Jack Was visibly overcome with emotion walking up 17. Shots of “Go, Jack!” from screaming well-wishers were just too much. I didn’t believe he could possibly maintain his composure. I was wrong. His second shot from the trampled rough on 17 was typical. Nicklaus’ shot poetry in motion. As soon as it left the club everyone knew it was going to be a good shot. What we didn’t know was that it was going to be an almost perfect shot — about 15 feet from the pin, the only area that gave him a shot at making the putt. Jack, Jr. stood behind him as he lined up the putt. What a picture — the father and son making history together! The confidence Jack must have in his son - the closeness, the love! I had to hold back the tears. Many did not.

When the putt Went in I threw my right fist into the sky in some defiant Way. It was as if I personally made that putt go in. Then it all became very clear. 40,000 people at Augusta and people all over the world had wished that putt in the hole. There was no other explanation, and as they all ran towards 18, I Was suddenly convinced that Jack and Jack alone would don the green jacket. So was everyone else, including Kite and Norman.

Jack’s final putt on 18 almost went in, but the crowd was not going to be denied the drama of Kite’s missed putt and Norman’s pushed second shot on No. 18. (Norman had done the same thing on the 72nd hole at the US Open at Winged Foot two years ago.) When Jack tapped in on everything for a back-nine 50, we all heard the FINAL ROAR. Jack acknowledged the fans, then turned and walked towards his son. As they embraced, everyone cried. It Was just too beautiful. I will never forget that day in Augusta, and I will never leave before the final curtain call.

Thanks Jack for a great performance.

A Synopsis of my 50 Year Business Career

An entrepreneur is one who according to the dictionary-“organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” What the dictionary fails to add is that the success of such an undertaking is almost totally dependent on the ability of the “entrepreneur” to first identify or establish the need for such a business, and then to develop the best means with which to meet that need. Refrigerators for igloo-dwellers? Not likely. ON THE GREEN MAGAZINE for the Grand Strand? Yes, indeed.

In 1977 Myrtle Beach’s broad, clean beaches, local restaurants, and family run hotels were summertime hosts to hordes of families, and in the spring, it’s two dozen or so golf courses lured golfers, mainly from the Northeast, who enjoyed limbering up their game before the green returned to their still-chilly home courses. Between these brief, enlivening seasons, it was a sleepy southern town - pleasant, certainly, but hardly fertile ground for the start of what would be a multi-million dollar business enterprise, However…

I had been a frequent Myrtle Beach visitor for golf who had been intrigued by what I saw as unlimited potential for the area, I subsequently moved here in 1976, and brought with me an extensive background in sales, advertising, promotion, and publishing (advertising executive for Long Island’s NEWSDAY, advertising director for the SUFFOLK SUN, a Long Island Newspaper owned by Cowles Communications of New York, mother company for LOOK MAGAZINE, as well as 10 major metropolitan dailies in the U.S., and Vice President in charge of national accounts for Hawthorne Advertising of Fort Lauderdale Florida.) That the area would soon experience a golfing boom seemed to me a certainty. (And certainly it was, as some three million rounds are now played each year on more then one hundred golf courses!) The need to identify Myrtle Beach as a prime golfing destination to a broad public-the area’s golfing and casual visitors, as well as golfers throughout the country - seemed equally certain. And what better means to do so then a local golfing magazine, it’s advertising augmented by compelling articles, course reviews, lessons, all focusing on Myrtle Beach as the worlds newest and most diversified golf mecca.

The first of Himmelsbach Communications publication ON THE GREEN MAGAZINE was born. The magazine produced annually was created to capture the attention of the golfers arriving in Myrtle Beach. Our distribution is flawless with a major presence at the airport to greet them upon their arrival, at most all of the golf facilities, welcome centers, strategic locations frequented by golfers, and massive distribution at our kiosk at both the Golf Dimension stores in North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach.

With on the Green an immediate “hit,” I now turned attention to the general visiting public, introducing a quality annual. ON THE BEACH MAGAZINE in 1978, like its sister publication, is a full-size, four-color book with a hard cover placed in 40,000 key hotel rooms and condos and 240,000 soft cover magazines distributed in mass at the airport and over 100 key locations along the Grand Strand and in Brunswick County, North Carolina. This full size four color hard cover book brimming with interest and excitement, is maintained in upscale guest rooms throughout the area, and the soft cover has become one of the most enjoyed souvenirs of the area reminding them of all the great attractions and restaurants that they frequented during their stay. ON THE BEACH read by more then 5 million visitors, is respected by it’s advertisers as well as by it’s readers. Although there are many digest-size “visitor” magazines in the area, ON THE BEACH continues 35 years later to carry most of the major advertisers and - even more meaningful - the largest number of repeat advertisers.

At that time my Brother Jack Himmelsbach joined my wife Judy, and as CFO enabling me to concentrate on growing the business and my wife Judy on production, it was truly a family run business.

So then through some old New York contacts and an agenda to bring the golf message to an even broader golfing public. I negotiated a deal with the New York Times publication GOLF DIGEST the number one golf magazine in the world to represent them in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Our company developed, sold, and created a four time a year insert in Golf Digest to over a million hand picked regions where the bulk of our golfers came from. The results were amazing and we grew the product to a 28 page supplement and did so over a 15 year span until the magazine was sold to Conde-Nast.

Together with it’s publishing interests, the company found itself with ever-increasing advertising involvement. To continue to give the necessary concentration to each interest, I created a new company with two wonderfully talented local young men, one a top notch art director, and the other a first class copy writer. HIMMELSBACH, WILSON, AND HEARL was formed in 1985 and developed under my tutelage to handle the influx of advertising accounts. In 1988 the company merged with Sheriar Advertising. Now known as LESNIK, HIMMELSBACH, WILSON, AND HEARL or LHWH, the agency is run as a completely separate entity, garnering plaudits and awards for it’s multi-media campaigns for local, regional, and national accounts.

In 1984, Myrtle Beach was recognized as the “The Seaside Golf capital of the world,” with long, strong spring and fall golf season. Summers, of course, remained family time, and winters brought great numbers of “Snowbirds,” mainly retired northerners who joined us for a few months to escape their hometown snows and huge utility bills. The period however between the departure of our summer guests and the start of the fall golf season - roughly the last week in August - remained bleak. But I alone with Golf Digest regional manager Marvin Arnsdorff had an idea, “How about an amateur golf tournament, played in matched handicap flights, over a period of four days, with divisions for men, women, and seniors. Would it ‘go’”?

The first year with the help of Golf Digest’s broad circulation, and promotional department, as well as an all out effort on behalf of On The Green magazine, 684 golfers from around the world, ranging in ages from 16 to 86, joined us. This year will be the 30th anniversary of the WORLD AMATEUR HANDICAP CHAMPIONSHIP, which was turned over to the non-profit marketing arm of Myrtle Beach golf, Golf Holiday. It is now called the GOLF.COM WORLD AMATEUR GOLF TOURNAMENT and is the worlds largest on site amateur golf tournament, with players from almost every state and most countries around the world. Bottom line with over 3,000 participants and some 2,500 additional non-competing guests, who accounted for - in what had once been the “deadest” week of the year - better than five million dollars in local expenditures!

And now it comes to television. Himmelsbach Communications has had a golf-only show, ON THE GREEN VIDEO MAGAZINE, that has been promoting golf in Myrtle Beach for 20 years. This year-round golf show, carried by the area’s largest cable company, Time Warner, is telecast to all the subscribers on the Grand Strand and On Demand in all of South Carolina and the Raleigh and Brunswick area’s of North Carolina. This one and a half hour ON THE GREEN VIDEO MAGAZINE show featuring actor/writer/director Mitchell Laurence as host, features studies of the areas best golf courses, lessons from top area golf schools, interviews, restaurant, and entertainment news, and all in brief, captivating spots within three one half hour segments. Each segment to run continuously every morning from 7:30 to 9:00 highlighting the areas best rates and specials for local and visiting golfers. The rest of the South Carolina and North Carolina On Demand on Time Warner is available 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

With the help of my Brother and Partner who is now CEO and publisher of Himmelsbach Communications holdings, we have maintained the number one spot as the full size, four color magazines for golfers and tourists. Our commitment to our community; Jack Himmelsbach is President of the Golf Course Owners Association, on the board of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, former president of Rotary, former president of Myrtle Beach YMCA, and is involved in all aspects of the areas non profit business enterprises.

I am a lifetime member of the Golf Writers Association of America. Have received the prestigious Silver Medal Addy award in 1991 for my role as advertising innovator along the Grand Strand, and been recently inducted into Myrtle Beach’s Golf Hall Of Fame in 2011, joining otherMyrtle Beach golf entrepreneurs that help establish and develop golf in Myrtle Beach to the level that it is today.

My brother Jack Himmelsbach and I along with other partners built and established HEATHER GLEN GOLF LINKS, designed by Willard Byrd, in 1977. It opened to public and professional applause, and was selected by GOLF DIGEST as the country’s best new public course of the year. Since then it was expanded to 27 holes. The course is still winning awards and enthusiastic responses by the playing public. Jack and I then built the award winning GLEN DORNOCH WATERWAY GOLF LINKS in 1996, and SHAFTESBURY GLEN GOLF AND FISH CLUB in 2001. We are also partners in the only John Daly signature course, WICKED STICK, and RIVERS EDGE, an Arnold Palmer course in Shallotte N.C.

World Amateur Handicap Championship Results for 2012

Robert Mieczkowski of Laurance Harbor, N.J., shot a gross 76, good for a net 65, at TPC Myrtle Beach during the World Championship playoff to win the 29th annual Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship. Mieczkowski bested a field of 74 other flight winners. Major League Baseball legend Roger Clemens, who won his flight, shot a gross 79, good for a net 71 and a share of ninth place.

An 11-handicap, Mieczkowski, won Flight 5 to advance to the World Championship playoff. Frank Payne of Aynor, S.C., shot a gross 78, net 66 to finish second. Vernon Denham and Jerry Edwards of Louisville, Ky., shot a team total of 147 to win the International Pairs event along with a trip to Europe next year.

After battling rain early in the week, the scene at TPC was idyllic with sunny skies. The course, which hosted the 2000 Senior Tour Championship, is the Myrtle Beach area’s only 5-star layout and has hosted the World Championship Playoff three years in a row.

The World Championship Playoff is the annual culmination of the Golf.com World Am, a 72-hole net, stroke play event. This year, 3,100 players from 49 states and 25 countries competed in the GOLF.com World Amateur Handicap Championship. Hosted by Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, the GOLF.com World Amateur Handicap Championship is a 72-hole, net stroke play tournament. Players are arranged into flights according to their handicap and at the conclusion of the four rounds, all flight winners advanced to the 18-hole world championship playoff.

The World Am features five competitive divisions, ranging from men and women 49 years-of-age and under to the super seniors 70 years-of-age and older. Players with handicaps as low as three and as high as 34 have won the GOLF.com World Amateur Handicap Championship.

The World Am web site www.worldamgolf.com offers a daily glimpse at the World Am with updated standings, news releases and photographs from the 29th annual tournament. For more information on the 2012 GOLF.com World Amateur Handicap Championship, visit WorldAmGolf.com. The 30th annual GOLF.com World Amateur Handicap Championship will be held August 26 – August 30, 2013. For more information about Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, visit www.GolfHoliday.com.

On The Green Magazine will be covering the event as it has from the beginning.

The Origins of the World Amateur Handicap Championship

imageBy 1983, Myrtle Beach was recognized as the “Seaside Golf Capital of the World,” with long, strong spring and fall golf seasons. Summers, of course, remained family time, and winters brought great numbers of “snowbirds,” mainly retired northerners who joined us for a few months to escape their hometown snows and huge utility bills. The period, however, between departure of our summer guests and the start of the fall golf season – roughly the last week in August – remained bleak. My dear friend from Golf Digest Marvin Arnsdorff and I met in Atlanta to try and come up with an idea for some sort of event for that week that could be jointly promoted by Golf Digest and On The Green Magazines. The conversation evolved to this after a couple of beers and idea after idea abandoned. “How about an amateur golf tournament, played in matched handicap flights, over a period of four days, with divisions for men, women, and seniors – what do you think?” Just like that, the World Amateur Handicap Championship was created.

The first year with the help of many people in the community and a fantastic sponsor – Dupont we launched the DUPONT WORLD AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP. That first year 1984, 684 amateur golfers from all over the world, ranging in age from 16 to 85 joined us. The following year we turned the tournament over to the able hands of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday, a collection of golf courses and hotels that is a non-profit organization used to promote Myrtle Beach golf.

In 1994 on the 10th anniversary, we had 3,537 participants, who brought with them almost 2,500 additional non-playing guests, who accounted for – in what had once been Myrtle Beach’s “deadest” week of the year – better then six million dollars in local expenditures. This year 29 years later and now known as the Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship, we had almost 4000 golfers from all over the world. This is the largest on-site golf tournament in the world. All thanks to a conversation with my dear friend Marvin and Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday who believed in its future and ran with it.

Next - highlights of this year’s tournament.

The Building of Shaftesbury Glen

Shaftesbury Glen, hole 8

Building Shaftesbury Glen was a team effort. My partners in this project were Scott Gobbi, my college roommate, best friend , and business partner in other ventures; Marvin Arnsdorff, former manager of the southeast office of Golf Digest; my brother Jack, and our architect Clyde Johnston.

We flagged every tree and wetland to see exactly what we could get out of this Myrtle Beach tract of land. We knew with the competition as keen as it was that we had to make this special.

Shaftesbury Glen, hole 9The first thing we decided on was that we wanted to go with bent grass greens, the same as they have at Augusta National. At the time it was the best possible putting surface available. This putting surface was only possible if we had an outstanding supply of good water and if we elevated all the greens to allow for air circulation. The water we had was unlimited and full of nutrients from the Waccamaw River.

Shaftesbury Glen, hole 16We looked at the original design for Augusta National by Allister MacKenzie which called for extra large elevated greens and large and free form bunker shapes which was his signature style. We wanted a design that would produce holes that offered an ideal balance of risk and reward, a course that would challenge yet accommodate players with a range of skills which was the MacKenzie and Tillinghast philosophy. So with this in mind we developed a routing and design that worked just perfectly. We lacked the elevation of the course’s by Tillinghast and MacKenzie but we designed the bunkering, tees and greens as they did at Winged Foot and Augusta National. The end result by not moving a ridiculous amount of dirt was we came in way under our original budget.

Shaftesbury Glen, hole 17We put together a great Myrtle Beach construction team and the construction started in the Spring of 1999. We quickly discovered that 90% of the land was gumbo which was hard to move and to make things worse we had excessive rain that spring and we had to constantly move the dirt around to dry it out. It took us longer then we anticipated and we were further delayed by a government agency ruling that because the land was located on the Waccamaw River we had to do an archeological search for Indian artifacts. What? So in came the guys with beards and shovels looking for God knows what that might have one time belonged to Indians and left behind. What made this whole thing utterly silly was the fact that the land had been farmland for over 100 years and had been plowed over that many years. In frustration I asked if we found anything were they going to give the artifacts back to the Indians. I don’t think they appreciated my sarcasm so they took another week and, of course, found nothing but the three week delay put us behind schedule and cost us financially as well.

Shaftesbury Glen, hole 18The rough clearing and shaping was finally completed and what was taking shape was very encouraging. We added a few traps and made some of the bunkers more severe to get the Winged Foot look that MacKenzie perfected. Mission accomplished. We finally did the grassing in the Spring of 2001 and by September the English manor styled clubhouse was completed and the course looked fantastic. It opened to rave reviews and was named Myrtle Beach’s Golf Course of the Year in 2009. We built five unique apartments, known as Shaftesbury Suites, over the clubhouse for visiting golfers. We were soon ranked in the top 20 Golf Resorts by Golf World Magazine along with Pinehurst and Kiawah Island.

Next: How Possum Trot came to be.

The Irish Invasion

You could arguably say that Ireland boasts some of the greatest golf courses in the world. Thousands of Americans make the trip to play them every year. One of their courses, the venerable K Club was even chosen for the 2006 Ryder Cup and of course the Walker cup will be played at Portrush. With all of the wonderful Irish courses you wouldn’t think any Irishman would ever leave the home sod of Ireland and their pints of Guiness and Murphy’s stout to play golf anywhere else.

Well you would be dead wrong, they are coming in droves to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

It all started five years ago when after traveling to Ireland each year to play golf I decided to buy a little Irish cottage in the town of Bantry on the coast in the southwest area of County Cork, one of the truly beautiful spots in the emerald Isles. I joined a little club there called the Bantry Bay Club, a spectacular parkland course situated on the Bay of Bantry. One thing led to another and as I joined in their weekly competitions and late night song fests, I met a fine fellow named Stephen Coughlin who was, at the time, the Captain of the club. After telling him about golf in Myrtle Beach and all its benefits he decided to bring a group of twenty golfers over to Myrtle Beach instead of going to Spain for their usual golfing getaway.

Now it’s five years later and the group of twenty has grown to over three hundred, all members of the Golfing Union of Ireland. They come mainly in the fall, they stay for two weeks and play as much golf as they can, very often 36 holes a day. They come from all over Ireland. They play as many different courses as they can and absolutely love it - first and foremost for the golf experience.

Steve has said to me repeatedly you can not beat Myrtle Beach for the quality, conditioning and diversification of the golf courses. They also come here for the same reason we go there. It’s a different golf experience. The weather is warmer of course, but it’s not just that. He says the people are great here. Another factor is that the euro is strong against the dollar. A dollar costs them about 80 cents, so Myrtle Beach is an amazing bargain. The cost of golf in Spain has skyrocketed so it is actually cheaper to fly here and play golf then it is to go to Spain, and we speak the same language. Aside from the southern hospitality which literally blows them away, they love they restaurants, they go to the shows at our array of theaters, Broadway at the Beach, Barefoot Landing, you name it, they do it. They also love the bargains they get at our golf shops, Malls, and Factory Stores. Many of them bring their wives and those women who don’t play take excursions to Charleston for more shopping.

But don’t let all these other diversions fool you. The #1 reason they come is for the golf. They love our courses and the conditioning of our courses. Steve asked me once, “Is there a bad golf course in Myrtle Beach? How do all the golf courses maintain such superb conditioning?”

I explained that the competition in Myrtle Beach is so keen that everyone tries to out-perform everyone else. If your course is not in great condition you would be out of business in a minute.  It’s funny we love to go over to Ireland and play their Links courses. By American standards the conditioning of the links courses of Ireland would be considered poor. They use very little fertilizer and many have no irrigation at all.

Steve said that a lot of the appeal of Myrtle Beach is getting away with your mates. You hoist a few jars, sing a few songs and there’s no better place to do that than Myrtle Beach where the people are so bloody friendly, many of them even join in.

By the way there is not an Irishman who can’t sing at least one good Irish song. The lads really know how to have a good time. When they come over, every day is a competition - they never play golf just for fun. Their games are sharp and the competition keen. They always pick a place to have an awards ceremony and party on the next to last night of their stay. Prizes are given out and the beer flows. I have been very fortunate along with a few of my close friends to be able to participate in many of the competitions and parties. It’s like taking a quick trip to Ireland.

This Irish invasion will continue to grow.

As Steve said, “Your product is better than anywhere else in the world and at a price that’s hard to beat. Ballybunion, Old Head and Portmarnock have pushed there prices well over 150 euros a round. while the decent courses in Spain are charging over 100 euros. Your accommodations and variety of restaurants and entertainment are better then anywhere else in Europe - we love coming here. Myrtle Beach is being talked about all over Ireland as the hot new ‘in’ place for a golf holiday.”

Of course that’s good news for us because the Irish love their golf and there are more golfers in their population than anywhere else on the planet. Every town has a golf course even if it’s only nine holes and they have very active memberships. Each one of the hundreds of clubs play another club a couple times a month the competition is for men, juniors, women and seniors. It is tough competition - I know - I’ve played in a number of them. It’s no wonder why two of the best golfers in the world, Padrig Harrington and Darren Clark are both from Ireland.

This past summer I went on a golf trip to Northern Ireland with another writer, Win Stevens, and our wives. It was a magical trip. We played Portrush, Royal County Down, Ardglass, Baltray (County Louth) where they played the Irish open this year, and Port Stewart, all magnificent. Every evening after a round and a couple of pints - they call them “jars” - of Guiness, the topic of conversation drifted to where my home town was. When I told them Myrtle Beach they where all ears. Even up in the north of Ireland the Myrtle Beach golf experience had taken root and they asked me to send them information. Of course as soon as I came back a whole package of On The Green Magazines and DVD’s went out to the various clubs for distribution, so the invasion will continue and it will grow and grow.

I only hope that they bring some of those Leprechauns and Fairies with them. I could use them and all that Irish luck for my own golf game. So when you’re out on the Links of Myrtle and you see an Irishman give him a warm hello and invite him back for a jar or two.