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.
If you live on the Grand Strand you may still be trying to find the Golf Channel on the tube.
When I tried to find it on a TV at The Sun News earlier this month, I thought maybe it had been bumped up to a higher sports cable tier by Time Warner Cable and they were going to be charging more for it. All I got was static on Channel 49 where it has always resided.
But further investigation revealed Golf Channel is one of a handful of stations that changed to a digital-only broadcast format at the turn of the year. So it's no longer available on TVs that have analog cable and don't have a digital converter box.
For me, that means I can watch it in my living room but not in one of my bedrooms at home. If anyone's having the same issue, Time Warner has free analog adapters that will allow you to get Golf Channel and the other stations that have made similar conversions in 2013 without having to pay for the digital boxes.
The other channels are C-Span, CMT, OWN, VH1 Classic, Discovery Fit & Health, Lifetime Movie Network and TruTV.
Living in Myrtle Beach and not having access to Golf Channel just doesn't seem right.
The PGA of America is inviting golf fans to show their support for the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup Team by becoming a “13th Man” at RyderCup.com. The 39th Ryder Cup will take place Sept. 28-30 at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club.
The “13th Man” initiative focuses on engaging U.S. golf fans who won’t be attending the Ryder Cup but instead will be following along via broadcast coverage and social media.
Fans who sign-up to become a “13th Man” will receive access to exclusive content, daily e-mail updates during the Ryder Cup, special merchandise discounts and opportunities to demonstrate their “13th Man” pride online by submitting photos and using the #13thMan hashtag when tweeting about the Ryder Cup.
It’s a web site for "Challenge: supporting kids with cancer."
A second question I received from Don Poland.
Q: When I first moved down here in 1999, there was a city or county wide golf tournament for amateurs. Do you know of any open leagues in Myrtle Beach to play in during the summer?
A: The Coastal Carolina Amateur Golf Club is probably what you’re looking for. You can go to www.coastalcarolinagolfclub.com or call director Patrick Jones at 912-450-8331.
In addition, the Grand Strand Golf Association (grandstrandgolfassociation.com) offers a discounted golf card and occasional tournaments, the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association offers a Myrtle Beach Passport discount card and also has tournaments throughout the summer for Passport members (myrtlebeachgolfpassport.com).
The rule changes that will be enacted for 2012-15 by the R&A and USGA show golf’s governing bodies are coming to their senses. The best and most impactful change will exonerate a player from penalty if it is known their ball was moved by the wind after address.
Up to now, if a ball was blown by the wind on a green after it was addressed by the player, they incurred a penalty. Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy were victims of circumstance regarding this rule this year, and Webb Simpson was assessed a stroke penalty on the 15th green at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in May and eventually lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson.
As fast as greens are at some PGA Tour events, and as undulating as some of the greens are, a ball being moved by the wind is at times inevitable, and a player shouldn’t pay a price for it.
The game is already largely a self-policed game, relying on players to call penalties on themselves, so why would it be any different on a green. If a player causes a ball to move by touching it, they can call themselves on it.
The R&A and USGA also made some logical rule changes regarding amateurs and amateur status. The rules are generally for elite players who are expected to turn pro but are playing out their amateur careers.
Amateurs can now:
_ Enter into a contract and/or agreement with his national golf union or association, provided the golfer does not obtain any financial gain, directly or indirectly, while still an amateur golfer. _ Enter into a contract and/or agreement with a third party solely in relation to the golfer’s future as a professional golfer, provided the golfer does not obtain any financial gain, directly or indirectly, and is not required to play in certain amateur or professional events, while still an amateur golfer, granted he is 18 or older. _ Receive reasonable subsistence expenses, not exceeding actual costs, to assist with general living costs, provided the expenses are approved by and paid through the golfer’s national golf union or association.
I'll be headed to Vegas for six days encompassing New Year's Eve, so this will likely be my last blog post until Jan. 4 or 5. I appreciate all who keep up with the blog and wish you happy holidays. In turn, wish me luck in Vegas. I'm sure I'll need it.
I'm off this week on a company-mandated furlough so don't look for any more blog posts until I return on Monday, Sept. 28. I guess I'll have to play some golf this week. My weekly Saturday notes column will run, however, so look for that.