A Conversation With Golf Channel’s Charlie Rymer

Meredith:            Well, we’re so glad that you’re here, and everybody loves you here in Myrtle Beach. You’re a South Carolina boy, too?

Charlie:                Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Meredith:            So anytime that you come here, everyone’s like, “Yay! Charlie’s in town.” And then you also come to Monday After the Masters and the crowd loves you there. So you’re very popular in our area and we’re very thankful that you’re out here today at Dustin’s Tournament, the World Junior Championship. Tell us why you participate in this event.

Charlie:                Well, first off, South Carolina’s been great to me. I’m a product of the public school system here, and South Carolina had a wonderful school in Fort Mill, which is just south of Charlotte. Now it’s sort of been absorbed by Charlotte. When I was growing up there, going into Charlotte was a big deal. It was like eight miles away. But I had wonderful teachers and coaches up there, and the junior golf programs here, Happ Lathrop is generally who I was dealing with. Happ, I think just retired, although Happ will never retire. But South Carolina has been huge in the world of junior golf, and from not a big state population-wise. But the state gave me all the tools to go out and make a living for myself and my family, first playing, and now talking about it. I don’t have any family in the state anymore. I’m originally from Tennessee. That’s where I was born. All my family is back there. So I don’t get back here that much to visit family. But Myrtle Beach and golf and all the tie ins here, I still feel like when I come here, I’m coming home. As I said, I’m just grateful for the experience I had growing up here that equipped me to get out in the world and be an adult and put food on the table.

Meredith:            You can do that.

Charlie:                Yeah.

Meredith:            Are there any favorite courses that you enjoy playing at Myrtle Beach, or just in your past, growing up in South Carolina, that you would say, “Hey, let’s go to Myrtle Beach and play this course”? Is there a certain course that stands out?

Charlie:                You know, there’s so much variety here, and that’s what I like. People don’t realize, I guess according to how you look at the map, I always basically say, top to bottom, it’s maybe 70 miles. It might even be a little bit more than that, now you start getting into North Carolina-

Meredith:            Yeah, the whole Grand Strand. Yeah.

Charlie:                Yeah. You look at that. I know the number changes a little bit but roughly 100 golf courses. The way I figure, that’s a little more than a golf course a mile, which is pretty nice. But the variety is great and that was really smart. Because if you had all those golf courses the same, that ain’t going to work. So, my preference, I sort of like some of the older stuff. So when I come here and I get a chance to go play Dunes, I love playing Dunes Club.

Meredith:            Dunes is fantastic.

Charlie:                It’s just an amazing golf course. I enjoy Barefoot, the Dye course there. We always play every year for the Hootie and the Blowfish. That’s a lot of fun.

Meredith:            Have you ever played Pine Lakes?

Charlie:                You know what, the granddaddy of them all …

Meredith:            Yes, the granddaddy.

Charlie:                I’ve been out to Pine Lakes. I know it was redone within the last three or four years, maybe.

Meredith:            Yes, it has been renovated.

Charlie:                I haven’t been out there, but I do talk to some folks who go out there and they absolutely love it. What they tell me about Pine Lakes is the golf course is good, but it’s a great experience.

Meredith:            Right. They’re wearing their kilts again.

Charlie:                Yeah, yeah.

Meredith:            Yeah, they’re bringing it all back, which is pretty cool.

Charlie:                And I know everybody that goes out there loves it. And I got to tell you, the folks at Caledonia have been wonderful to us. Kelly Tillman, my colleague at Golf Channel, who grew up here in Myrtle Beach, we do some work with The First Tee, of all of Myrtle Beach, which has sort of been consolidated from top to bottom now. We do a fundraiser every year. Caledonia lets us come out there and do the fundraising. They don’t charge us for the golf course and that certainly helps the bottom line. All that money goes to The First Tee. What’s really cool is, the folks in the golf industry here in Myrtle Beach step up to help us with that pro-am for That First Tee, so that’s a lot of fun.

Kelly and I are also members of a foundation that was started to honor our great friend, Gene Weldon, who passed away, it’s been a little more than a year ago now. And we are going to be doing some really good fundraising for the Gene’s Dream Foundation and that’s going to help junior golfers here in Myrtle Beach. In fact, our kickoff event is in October this year and David Feherty is going to come in and do a show. He’s doing a show for nothing, and that allows us to sell the concert tickets and some other things. We’re going to have an event. That event’s going to be at Tidewater.

Meredith:            Okay, y’all heard that, Tidewater

Charlie:                Yeah, at Tidewater. In fact, we’re going to play Tidewater this afternoon. And the community there at Tidewater, the club, they’re going to come out and volunteer to help put on the golf event that we’re going to put on. We call it the Mentor’s Cup, and Gene was a heck of a golf mentor, as I’m sure you know, in this area, so that’s sort of going to be the spirit of that event. We hope that it raises a lot of dollars that ultimately will help junior golf in this area.

Meredith:            That’s great. Gosh, so many wonderful things you’re doing and then on top of it, you’re playing a little bit more golf, right [crosstalk 00:04:48].

Charlie:                Yeah, so you went from wonderful things to the other end of the spectrum, me playing not so good golf.

Meredith:            Yeah, because I think everyone wants to hear. I think it’s cool that you’re doing all these wonderful things and you also continue to work on your game. That’s cool when you’re passionate about the sport.

Charlie:                Yeah, I am working really hard on my golf game, right now. I turned 50 back in December and I had a plan to play five PGA Tour Champions events this year, it looks like I’ll probably end up getting a total of six, and I’ve worked really hard on my game, but that’s mostly been practice. And, as you know, you can practice all you want, but you’ve got to get under the gun and play a little bit.

Meredith:            That’s right.

Charlie:                I’m finding that that’s a little bit different. It’s just hard, with my schedule, to get out and play, but I’m embracing the challenge. I’d gotten a little burnt out with golf, which can happen. And you play tournament golf, folks don’t realize that tournament golf, you don’t get to win a lot.

Meredith:            Right.

Charlie:                You know, you’ve got to deal with the downs more than the ups, and golf will burn you out a little bit. So I got burnt out with playing a long time ago and I wasn’t sure that I’d ever get back to where I felt like maybe these kids that I see out playing in the Dustin Johnson Junior World Championship here. They’re not even close to burnt out. They wake up the morning, they want to get out on the golf course. I didn’t think I’d ever feel like that again, but going back and trying to play these events, put them on my schedule, practicing, getting ready, makes me feel like that. I actually have dreams about playing golf again-

Meredith:            That’s excellent.

Charlie:                … and I never thought that would happen.

Meredith:            So, it’s like the joy returned.

Charlie:                Yeah, the joy, the challenge, the grind, sometimes some anger, all of that, but that’s golf. My scores haven’t been what I’d hoped they would be, so far, but I’m doing a lot of things really well and I think my … by the time I get to the end of this year, I will have had some good rounds, and that’s what my goal is. I can’t really compare myself to guys that, 20 years ago, were beating my brains out, and I’ve been working full-time for 20 years, and they’ve been continuing to play.

Meredith:            Right.

Charlie:                But what I can do is go out and play the best that I can, whatever that is, and I think that at some point it’ll be pretty respectable.

Meredith:            Right. I was going to ask you about some golf tips, but now that I’m talking with you, what do you think, for yourself, with the joy coming back, is it a golf tip or is it your really perspective going into golf, that would help all golfers? You know, we all struggle with it, sometimes losing that joy, especially if we have multiple rounds that are just not good. Sometimes you look at your clubs and maybe just like, why am I doing this?

Charlie:                Yeah.

Meredith:            I know I have a lot of students, sometimes want to throw in the towel and they feel that urge to give up. So maybe that would be … maybe we can tell our viewers a good tip if you get frustrated on the golf course.

Charlie:                Yeah.

Meredith:            What’s a good thought process?

Charlie:                I would say, and I know where you’re going with that, but here’s what I’ve learned on this journey, and I do feel like it’s a journey, coming back to play competitive golf is … and one of the reasons I did it was to get good content for the viewers, but like a lot of folks, I’m really busy, and you have so much input coming in. You know, iPhone, computer, meetings, things you have to do, that I think it becomes really difficult to focus on something outside of work.

I mean, you think about all the stuff that’s coming in and it’s really hard to put that aside and say, “Hey, you know what? I’m going to go play golf now.” I would say the best tip, I don’t know, you want to go out and play decent golf? Take that iPhone or smartphone or whatever it is and just leave it in the car or leave it in the house.

Meredith:            Yeah. All right. Yeah, it’s a good one.

Charlie:                Yeah, a teacher friend of mine told me that when he deals with really busy people, he tells them a story about, if you go look at folks that use service dogs, you know in the military or the police, that sort of thing, he said that service dog lives with the family, he’s like a normal dog. But when they go to work, service dog hops in the car with the officer, they go to work, and before they get out of the car, do something like tie a bandana around the dog’s neck.

Meredith:            Okay.

Charlie:                It looks cute and all that, but it’s telling the dog, time to go to work now.

Meredith:            That’s really cool.

Charlie:                The bandana’s on all day-

Meredith:            Right.

Charlie:                … and they got to do their police business or whatever they’re doing, security business. They get back in the car, they take it off, and they go home and they’re a regular dog again.

Meredith:            That’s cool.

Charlie:                So when you’re playing golf, leave that phone at home. A great cue is, when you put your glove you, when you put the Velcro on, that’s like tying the bandana on the dog’s neck-

Meredith:            I’m loving it.

Charlie:                … it’s time to play golf now.

Meredith:            Okay.

Charlie:                And that can really help you sort of focus on what you’re doing with your golf game.

Meredith:            That is amazing. I mean, seriously, I think that is better than any golf tip you could give about the swing. I mean, just going dark a little bit, just quietening it down. Gosh, I love that.

Charlie:                Enjoy being in a great place like this and focus on what you’re trying to do in the golf, and whatever your goals in golf might be.

Meredith:            Right.

Charlie:                You know, not all of us are trying to play on the Champions Tour or break 80. In fact, one of the things I’ve learned is, you know, I assume a lot of people that ask for a golf tip, they’re trying to improve their handicap or get better at [inaudible 00:09:45]. Sometimes they just want to, maybe every now and then, hit one by their buddy, and that’s fine too. Whatever your goal is in golf, that’s fine. It’s not always trying to go from an 18 to a 16.

Meredith:            Exactly.

Charlie:                Some people like just hanging out with teachers.

Meredith:            Yeah, right. Yeah, it’s true.

Charlie:                You’ve given lessons where, “Yeah, you know, I’m working on golf but I just really need to talk about kid,” or something. You know what I mean?

Meredith:            Exactly.

Charlie:                And that’s fine, too.

Meredith:            Yes. Yeah, it’s a great time of togetherness, getting out on the course, because you actually can connect with these relationships, and you can bond. That’s another thing with junior golfers, here in Myrtle Beach, kids can play free with a parent or a paying adult. So that’s a way for families to reconnect in our, just, driven society of technology. I really think that … I love what you said. I mean, you hit the nail on the head with it, and I see that as a parent, you see that. We see it everywhere we go, all of this, but really disconnecting.

Charlie:                Yeah. I knew that about the great access that Myrtle Beach gives to kids, but there ought to be one rule, no phones.

Meredith:            That’s a good idea.

Charlie:                Yeah, if you get free golf, your kid gets free golf, no phones.

Meredith:            No phones, yeah.

Charlie:                Leave the phones in the car-

Meredith:            Right, and then when you-

Charlie:                … and then hope it’s a hot day, and hope they melt.

Meredith:            There we go. Well, you’ve been wonderful again. Thanks for taking the time with us-

Charlie:                My pleasure.

Meredith:            … we all love you so much, so we are rooting for you. We’re going to be watching you.

Charlie:                I need the support.

Meredith:            You know what? I think the ratings are going to go up, now that you’re on the men’s senior tour, because you’re on it now.

Charlie:                Well, I don’t know about that, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a really cool journey.

Meredith:            Okay, well thanks so much.

Charlie:                Appreciate it, thank you.

Meredith:            All right.

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