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Former Golf Pro Recaps the Inaugural Myrtle Beach Classic

  By  Normand Nadon

Unmissable PGA Tour Debut in Myrtle Beach

I didn’t want to miss the first PGA Tour event being held in Myrtle Beach for anything in the world. I bought my tickets for the four rounds as soon as they were on sale, and my old Canadian friend and I planned a golf trip for our 60th birthday that included five rounds of golf (Tradition, Man O' War, Burning Ridge, Arrowhead, and Blackmoor) on some of the 90 championship golf courses the region has to offer. We added to those rounds four days to attend the first edition of the Myrtle Beach Classic from May 9-12th at the spectacular Dunes Golf and Beach Club. It was a wall-to-wall golf vacation, and we were not disappointed. The weather was gorgeous all week, as is typical in May in Myrtle Beach. I want to share with you my experience as a spectator at the inaugural event. Here is what a typical day at the tournament site looked like for us and thousands of other spectators.

Golfers Love The Beach sign Myrtle Beach Classic


Smooth Arrival and Warm Welcome

After a short drive from our rented condo in south Myrtle Beach, we arrived at the well-located, huge parking lot, where there were enough secure spaces for thousands of vehicles to park. From there, we boarded a shuttle that took us to the Dunes Golf and Beach Club. The shuttle buses were always on time, running like clockwork, and we never waited more than a few minutes to board one. The 15-minute drive to the Dunes Golf Club was always smooth, with very clean and seemingly brand-new coaches and minibuses.

Upon arriving at the golf course, we were always welcomed with huge smiles and greetings by some of the 1300 volunteers (for our Canadian readers, two of them were from Canada, so yes, you can apply for next year if you are interested) working at the event. After a quick verification of our tickets, we entered the site overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and made our way straight to the driving range. That’s the place you want to start your day. You can see the players preparing and warming up for their upcoming round. You must appreciate these players; they are so good, their swings seem so effortless, yet the ball carries great distances.

Watching the Pros in Action

We watched Tour veterans like Bill Haas, with his two boys sitting quietly behind him watching their dad warm up. He was caddied by his famous father, Jay Haas, who had a great career on both the PGA and the Champions Tour. Brent Snedeker, Kevin Kisner, Daniel Berger, Kevin Streelman, Martin Laird, Jonathan Byrd, Sean O’Hair, and Thorbjorn Oleson (who shot a course record 61 on Sunday’s final round) were among others, and they are all PGA Tour winners.

Concert Myrtle Beach Classic


Breathtaking Scenery and Perfect Conditions

After our visit to the driving range, we headed for the golf course to watch the competition. The first thing that strikes you when you step onto the golf course is the scenic beauty of the place. Overlooking the ocean, this Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course is the premier country club in Myrtle Beach. Congratulations to the superintendent and his crew because the golf course conditions were spectacular, from the tees and fairways to the greens that were fast, immaculate, and well-guarded by strategically placed, deep bunkers. Water comes into play on many holes, and I’ll give you a tip: beware of alligators.

Easy Navigation and Excellent Amenities

It is a good walk, but fairly easy to get around the 18 holes. There were plenty of food and beverage concessions, restrooms, and merchandise shops. The place was very clean, and spectators were very respectful of the environment and the players. Volunteers were carrying signs with a special southern touch to keep the spectators quiet along the course. Two words replaced the standard "Quiet Please" you see on paddles usually: "Hush Y'all."

The service at the concessions was second to none. We were always welcomed with a big smile and a warm hello. The food was good, with multiple choices from your classic hot dogs and burgers to salads and Greek wrap sandwiches. The Fan Zone, a place built especially for the event, was tucked between the 17th and 18th holes. It was very popular, with plenty of things to do, like games for the kids, or just sitting, taking a break, and relaxing on a comfortable Adirondack chair. You could easily follow the scores on your cell phone by scanning a barcode located everywhere on the course. Of course, like any other PGA Tour event, there were also scoreboards with live scoring, so you didn’t miss anything happening in the competition. Spectators in Myrtle Beach are truly golf connoisseurs and are respectful of the game. There was no partying or yelling on the course; they appreciated great golf shots with loud clapping and a resounding "YEAH!"

Following a Young Star

On Sunday, Mother’s Day, we decided, like hundreds of spectators, to follow the young 16-year-old junior amateur and crowd favorite, Blades Brown, who made headlines as he entered the final round in the top 20. As the youngest player to compete in a PGA Tour tournament, Brown attracted a large crowd, especially young kids. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had at a golf tournament,” he said. “I’ve never had that many people following me.”

Myrtle Beach Classic Blades Brown Shot


Celebrating a New Champion

In the end, it was 24-year-old Chris Gotterup with a combined score for the 4 rounds of 262, -22, who prevailed with a 6-stroke victory to clinch his first PGA Tour win over Alistair Docherty and Davis Thompson, who both shot 268, -16. Gotterup said after receiving the distinctive golf swing-inspired trophy, “I just want to thank everyone this week for the support. What a great first event. I’m sure it’s a big success for Visit Myrtle Beach and I’m honored to be the champion.”

Reflecting on a Successful Event

With the 40,000 spectators that attended the event from Wednesday to Sunday and a record first edition breaking 15,281 ticketholders on Saturday, the tournament was a roaring success. Hats off to the organizers, the staff at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club, and especially all the volunteers; they all did a wonderful job putting this event together.

After watching the golf and soaking in the sunshine, ocean breeze, and salty air, spectators made their way to the front lawn for a concert. No other tournament does that in front of the ocean. It is a special place.

Chris Gotterup Myrtle Beach Classic


Plan Your Visit Next Year

So, for next year, why not do like thousands of golf fans and combine your golf vacation with your family or golf buddies and add a visit to a PGA Tour event? The Myrtle Beach Classic is here to stay for at least four years. Don’t miss next year’s edition in the Golf Capital of the World, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina!

Normand Nadon

I am originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I am a retired firefighter from the City of Montreal, and I have been in the golf business for 25 years. I was also a golf professional for almost ten years and golf continues to be my passion. I have been visiting Myrtle Beach for 30 years and I can say that I consider the city as my home away from home. This is my favorite destination when the golf season is over north of the border. I love everything about Myrtle Beach: the beautiful weather all year round, the superb golf courses, a multitude of restaurant choices, shopping for all tastes, 100 kilometers of beaches and all kinds of activities that will make your stay an unforgettable experience, whether it is with your golf partners, your family, or simply to settle down there for a few months to escape the cold of winter.