With its handling of the Whispering Pines Golf Club situation, I believe the city of Myrtle Beach passed on a rare opportunity to better the community, particularly with The First Tee.
The First Tee of Brunswick County founder Rusty Petrea met with both city leaders and Will Mann, who along with fellow past PGA of America president Gary Schaal formed a group that was vying for the management contract at the course, in the hopes Whispering Pines could become the home of The First Tee of the Grand Strand, which is now still seeking a headquarters. Mann and Schaal had a plan to make Whispering Pines a national game development center for juniors, though they were going to require an investment from the city.
If city leaders didn't like their plan, the city could have continued operating the course while implementing The First Tee. Any losses the course would incur -- and it's possible the course could be on its way to breaking even or turning a small profit -- could be justified by the benefit to the community. The city funds other recreational facilities because of their benefit to residents.
The First Tee program focuses on character building through nine core values as well as teaching golf skills, and it would give youth in Myrtle Beach an activity and place to go after school and in the summer while they are learning to be better citizens. It would also help build the next generation of golfers that Myrtle Beach and the entire industry desperately needs.
Based on the success of The First Tee program in Brunswick County, it would reach and impact thousands of children in a short time. The program is also self-sustaining through donations and volunteers, and wouldn't require funding from the city or the operator of the course.
After all, city-owned recreation property is supposed to benefit the city's citizens. I don't believe Myrtle Beach needs a 90th public course to compete with resident-owned courses in the area. But it does need a youth-developing golf program, and it had a perfect opportunity to give The First Tee the home it needs.
Hopefully new Whispering Pines operator Chip Smith will work with The First Tee, or implement a junior program that will similarly benefit the community. But as a golf course operator he has no choice but to try to earn a profit, and a program like The First Tee will likely not be his first priority, whereas the city could have made the program and the city and county's children it's first priority.
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are hosting a night for The First Tee of Brunswick County and First Tee of the Grand Strand on Saturday.
Tickets can be purchased and paid for through http://bit.ly/1iEwwPg or www.thefirstteebrunswickcounty.org. Any tickets purchased through the site will be available at Will Call at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, and $4 from every $11 ticket will go to local First Tee chapters. Tickets can be purchased for First Tee students to attend the game, as well.
In addition to the Pelicans’ donation, PGA Tour Superstore will also be making a donation based on ticket sales. The game against the Wilmington Blue Rocks is at 7 p.m. and will feature special events including a pre-game autograph session and appearance by Mountain Man of A&E’s Duck Dynasty. Call The First Tee of Brunswick County at 910-754-5288 for more information.
This week's BMW Charity Pro-Am in the Greenville area has the Web.com Tour's most unique and fun format with about 25 celebrities taking part in the event, which is held on three courses, and raises an abnormal amount of money for charity for a Web.com Tour event.
Organizers and title sponsor BMW try to make the event special for players.
This year, participating professionals and their caddies were invited to the BMW Performance Center in Greenville on Tuesday to get behind the wheel of a BMW and test their driving skills in a series of on-track exercises.
The tournament is being aired in primetime on Golf Channel through Sunday and is worth a peek if you have time.
Don’t be surprised if Adam Scott becomes this week the fourth back-to-back winner in Masters history.
He has a calmness and confidence about him as a holder of a green jacket that is evident.
He had become more comfortable playing Augusta National in recent years, culminating with last year’s win following a tie for second in 2011 and tie for eighth in 2012.
And he appears to be enjoying his rounds on the course now, rather than either pressing or playing defensively, both of which Augusta National can entice in players.
He was appreciative of his reception throughout the course Thursday as the defending champion.
“It was a thrill, really,” Scott said. “The reception into every green and almost every tee box was incredible, and the best one, the memory that will stick with me forever today was walking up to the 12th tee and everyone getting out of their seats as I approached there. It was great. The level of respect that everyone has for this golf tournament and what happens here.”
“But then I went and hit it in the water,” he joked, referring to a shot into Rae’s Creek that led to the only blemish on his card, a double bogey.
Asked if he noticed that wooded areas were thinned by the ice storm in February, Scott responded: “Barely. I didn't hit it in the trees too much, so I didn't really get to find any gaps that wouldn't have been there last year.”
The good thing for Masters officials is they already know his jacket size.
Tiger Woods is missing his first Masters since turning pro because of recent surgery on his back, and his absence from Augusta National Golf Club has been evident and will be evident throughout the tournament.
“Having Tiger in a tournament definitely creates more buzz, more of an atmosphere,” Rory McIlroy said. “You know where he is on the course just by the crowd and the gallery that follows him.”
The Woods’ effect is perhaps its greater at Augusta National, where he has won four green jackets. But a fantastic Masters finish is likely with or without Woods in the field.
“As a fan, it's always better to have him in the golf tournament,” McIlroy said. “But no matter who is in contention or who is going to win this week, the Masters always provides a great finish regardless of who is there.
“I think people will miss him at the start of the week, but by the end of the week, when it comes down to who is going to win the golf tournament, there's going to be a worthy winner and it will produce a lot of excitement. It always produces a great finish whether Tiger is in the mix or not.”