Jimmy Biggs, a newly minted member of the PGA, listened intently as Major Dan Rooney addressed attendees at the 2007 Carolinas PGA Show, spreading the gospel of Folds of Honor. Fresh from earning his masters degree from Campbell University, Biggs was inspired by Folds of Honor’s mission to educate the children of America’s fallen and disabled service members, but not in a position to take meaningful action. Fast forward seven years and Biggs, by then well established in the Myrtle Beach market, was ready to join an effort that continued to motivate him. During the annual CPGA Show in 2014, a speaker discussed using a golf marathon to raise money for charity. Biggs, who was hardly alone in his support of Folds of Honor, thought to himself, “We can totally do that.”
By Labor Day 2014, the Myrtle Beach PGA Patriots, a group that included Biggs, Jeff Pianelli, Mike Buccerone and Mike Bender, among others, were ready for their first 100-hole golf marathon. The goal: to raise as much money as possible for Folds of Honor, a charity that dedicates 86 cents on every dollar raised to providing scholarships. (Why 100 holes? “It’s a nice even number and it sounds ludicrous,” said Biggs. “I thought if we said we were playing 100 holes, people might ask us why we are doing it, and we can explain the whole story.”) That first year, the group, which featured eight PGA pros and two industry sales reps, raised $16,000, enough for three scholarships. But Year One only whet the appetite of Myrtle Beach’s PGA Patriots.
Raising money by soliciting donations based on everything from completing the marathon to the number of birdies made, they were just getting started. “Those families that made the ultimate sacrifice where mommy and daddy aren’t coming home or they can’t work a normal job, supporting them is something every American should be able to get behind,” said Biggs, who is now the general manager at Pine Lakes Country Club. “I’m a golf pro. I have the best job in the world, and I can do that based on the sacrifice members of the military have made.” Eager to grow their fundraising efforts, the Patriots decided to make the 2015 event a two-day, 200-hole marathon. The initiative succeeded in raising more money, though rain stopped play after 178 holes, but it was too ambitious physically to sustain over time.
Out of the aching shoulders and backs of 2016 arose the idea for a weekend of activities that have made Myrtle Beach’s PGA Patriots one of the top 5 Folds of Honor fundraisers in America. Beginning in 2016, the event teed off with a Friday night banquet and silent auction, followed by the “Battle for Glory,” a Ryder Cup-style event the general public can compete in on Saturday, and the 100-hole marathon Sunday. The introduction of the weekend format has led to skyrocketing donations. Biggs and friends raised $40,000 in 2016, $84,000 in 2017 and $105,000 last year. Not content, he has set the goal for $130,000 in 2019, an aggressive total, but one Biggs believe they can meet. “We want to be tops in the nation,” he said. “We are the golf capital of the world, and we want to lead the charge.”
For Biggs, Matt Biddington, the head pro at Legends Resort, and the nearly 20 guys who are actively involved in planning the event, leading the charge means a lot of hard during non-work hours. Every member of the Patriots team, must raise at least $3,000 to participate, and there is considerable effort that goes into planning and executing the banquet and the “Battle for Glory.” But it’s a labor of love for all involved. This year’s event will take place August 30 – September 1, and the marathon will be held at Long Bay Club. The location for the Friday night banquet and the “Battle for Glory” are still being finalized.
Myrtle Beach PGA Patriots FAQ
What is the record for birdies?
Nearly 200 last year. Aberdeen Country Club/Long Bay Club head pro Corey Bowers made 33 birdies and two eagles on his own ball.
Do players keep a cumulative score?
No. They are playing for birdies. Nobody is grinding over a 5-foot bogey putt after dumping a ball in the water.
How does play work?
Players tee off as the sun rises and the groups go out as fivesomes. Every player gets their own cart and they meet on tees and greens. Everyone plays hole No. 100 together, so they finish at the same time.
Do you have to live in Myrtle Beach or be part of the local community to donate?
No. The Myrtle Beach PGA Patriots accept donations from anyone willing to support the Folds of Honor cause and their efforts.
Does anyone “own” the effort?
Absolutely not. Our story focused on the role of Jimmy Biggs, but this is a group effort. PGA pros from every major management group in Myrtle Beach are part of the effort, and the greater golf community is involved as well. There is no “corporate” structure. The Myrtle Beach Patriots are a group of individuals working to support an effort they are passionate about.
How do I contribute to Myrtle Beach PGA Patriots?
How do you feel after playing 100 holes of golf?
“On Labor Day, your body is kind of in shock, not quite sure what is wrong,” Biggs says. “The Tuesday after the 100 is the tough day. You are really sore, can’t move, and are completely exhausted.”
Who raised the most money in 2018?
Biggs led the way with $18,237, but Biddington’s total of $16,215 wasn’t far behind.