HILTON HEAD ISLAND — Ben Mathews is making a list and checking it twice.
24 ping pong balls. Check.
72 Solo cups. Check.
260 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Check.
For Mathews, it’s not the holidays on Hilton Head Island without a little beer pong.
For the past two years, the Hilton Head Island High School graduate has organized a tournament as a reunion of sorts for young locals coming home from college or out-of-town jobs to see family and friends for Christmas.
With nary a tourist and a slow bar scene, Mathews, who lives and works on Hilton Head, said a beer pong tournament is the perfect activity because it gives locals something fun to do over the holidays and is “competitive while also being casual.”
This year’s tournament will begin at 10:30 p.m. Monday at Charbar on Hilton Head, a date strategically selected so that no one has to wake up with a hangover on Christmas, Mathews said.
Last year’s event attracted 56 teams of two. Mathews said he expects this year to be even bigger, but is limiting the amount of teams to 64 for time purposes.
After paying a tournament entry fee of $20, participants will be given a ticket with a number that corresponds to a spot on a bracket. If a team wins, it advances to the next bracket. One loss and the team is out. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top four teams.
Competition beer will be provided by Lee Distributors, with each player receiving a beer per round.
Beer pong is first and foremost a drinking game, but cups will be filled with water instead of beer so that players can drink at their own pace.
“We’re not encouraging binge drinking. We’re not making anyone chug beer,” Mathews said.
The game typically consists of two teams of two players each with six cups set up on a table in a triangle formation on each side. Each team takes turns attempting to shoot ping pong balls into the opponent’s cups. The first team to get rid of all their opponent’s cups wins.
Beer pong is usually a game played at colleges and universities; perhaps you’ve seen “Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon play the game against celebrities.
Mathews, who is 27, said participants at past tournaments have varied in age. A fresh 21-year old might team up with an older sibling, or challenge an old high school buddy to a battle of skills.
“Anyone can do it, and that’s the beauty of it,” he said.