Birdies, Beer Chugging Offer Different Paths to Victory at Kornutopia Invitational

The men of the Kornutopia Invitational – a Myrtle Beach golf trip that brings good friends together from various locations across the country – faced the possibility of a coronavirus-induced, one-year hiatus of their always anticipated outing.

But they didn’t concede their trip.

They followed the news, exchanged messages and ultimately decided that by implementing their own informal protocols they could enjoy the good times that make the trip special, and stay safe.

“We took it seriously,” Michael Lemus said of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We talked about it throughout the year. We made calls and sent notes to the group, making sure we were all social distancing and wearing masks to keep it all cool at home, so we were all good when we got here. It was a semi-quarantine at home and then the same [safety measures] while we are here.”

The plan worked as players from Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee and Alabama made the trek to Myrtle Beach for a 6-round trip that was as much about having a good time as it was playing quality golf. One of the group’s founding fathers, Hayden Kornblut, has a family home in Garden City where the group stays, and they prefer to make steak on the grill overlooking the marsh as opposed to eating in restaurants (that was true pre-pandemic as well), maximizing the time the group gets to spend hanging out.

Don’t let the talk of all the camaraderie fool you, there is a competition at the heart of the Kornutopia Invitational. Two-time defending champion Andy Moler was gunning for a three-peat on a golf course lineup that featured Grande Dunes Resort Club, World Tour, TPC Myrtle Beach, King’s North and Caledonia.

With handicaps ranging from seven to 30, the Kornutopia Invitational uses the most modified of Stableford scoring systems to determine a champion. Sure, how you play matters but players can receive bonus points for beers drank and shot-gunned, among other things. The winner of the group’s coveted green jacket and a storied $5 trophy is sometimes decided by the strength of one’s liver as much as his skill with a 7 iron.

(For anyone worried about responsible behavior, members of the Kornutopia Invitational Uber to the course each day – not exactly the courtesy car service the guys on the PGA Tour receive, but it works)