The Carolinas’ third prestigious tournament in June begins a week from Sunday in Myrtle Beach, and the PGA Professional National Championship is every bit as important to its participants as the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Opens in Pinehurst.
“This is it for club professionals,” said defending champion Rod Perry of Port Orange, Fla. “It’s our major. It’s our only major.”
The event will be played over both the Dunes Golf and Beach Club and Grande Dunes Resort Club courses from June 22-25.
The 312 players from throughout the nation “have plenty of game, and some have been very competitive in PGA Tour events,” Dunes club pro Dennis Nicholl said. “These guys can play, and I look forward especially to see how they handle the (Dunes Club’s) Robert Trent Jones masterpiece.”
At stake will be shares of a $550,000 purse. The top 20 will earn berths in the PGA Championship in August, and the winner will receive an exemption into five PGA Tour events next season. Each competitor will play 18 holes at each course, with the final two rounds moving to the Dunes Club. The Golf Channel will provide 18 hours of live coverage.
Spectator admission is free, with parking available at the Grande Dunes Resort Club. Shuttle transportation will be provided between courses.
Ten players from the Carolinas PGA Section qualified, including Burke Cromer, assistant pro at Columbia’s Northwoods GC. Other South Carolinians who will compete include Mike Townsend and Charles Frost, both representing Kiawah Island clubs, and Greg Boyette, from Bulls Bay near Charleston.
Other tournament events include:
• Youth Clinic on June 19 at Arcadian Shores GC from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Fun, fitness, instruction and give-aways are planned.
• Armed Forces Clinic on June 19 at Arcadian Shores from 2-5 p.m. that includes shot-making skills by Dennis Walters.
• Family Fun Zones will be held June 20 at Broadway at the Beach from 3-10 p.m., June 21 at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans baseball game for ticket holders from 4-8 p.m., and June 22 at the Grand Park at Market Commons from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. These events are open to the public and include group lessons, games and other activities to encourage participation in golf.
Participants can bid on the opportunity to play at such venues as Pinehurst No. 2, Sage Valley Golf Club and East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, site of the Tour Championship. More than 130 clubs in South Carolina and more than 110 in North Carolina are participating.
Proceeds support turf grass research. Go biddingforgood.com for details and to participate.