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.