Across America, the threat of Covid-19 brought aspects of society to a halt in 2020, but our favorite game, golf, wasn’t one of them. In the midst of a global pandemic, countless new people discovered the many virtues of golf, an outdoor activity to which social distancing comes naturally.
At the local level the game set records for play. While we didn’t smash records in Myrtle Beach, an avid local population helped keep courses busy and the newly available vaccine has people feeling good about what 2021 holds.
Before we gladly dump 2020 in the history’s dustbin, not all was lost. Here are the “The Birdies,” our very unofficial Myrtle Beach Golf Awards!
You Thought the Pandemic Was Rare Award? Global pandemics are unusual and so is making a hole-in-one on consecutive days, but we had both this year. Jim Fuddy, a 71-year-old Pennsylvanian, made an ace on the par 3 eighth hole at Long Bay on October 27 and 24 hours later recorded another one on No. 4 at King’s North. Fuddy had never previously had a hole-in-one.
True Patriots Award: There were a lot of reasons for Myrtle Beach’s PGA Patriots to take a one-year hiatus from their annual 100-hole marathon that benefits Folds of Honor. The pandemic sent the economy into a tailspin and the fund-raising events surrounding the marathon had to be canceled, making the challenge infinitely more difficult. Led by Jimmy Biggs (Pine Lakes) and Matt Biddington (Legends), they forged ahead, miraculously raising $140,000. Due to the efficiency of FOH – 86 percent of money raised goes directly to scholarships for the families of killed, wounded or disabled servicemen and women – Myrtle Beach’s PGA Patriots raised enough money to provide $5,000 scholarships to 24 families. Kudos, gentlemen. (Listen to the Podcast Here)
Renovation of the Year Award: This one was easy. The Members Club at Grande Dunes was the only area facility to undertake a significant project in 2020, installing new greens and drainage in all bunkers. The project went exceedingly well for a layout that just started allowing limited public play. The drainage work in bunkers has been a gift from the heavens and this formerly private course is one you will want to check out.
Hey, We Deserve Mulligan Award: The Palmetto Course at Myrtlewood underwent a significant 2019 renovation that included the installation of new greens and an overhaul of every bunker on the course. While the layout was open during the fall season, Palmetto’s tee sheet was packed in the spring of 2020 with golfers eager to play the new-look design. Unfortunately, those trips weren’t able to be made this year, so the work at Palmetto remains “new” to spring golfers. Trust me, you want to play it.
Teacher of the Year Award: This one is easy. Allen Terrell has worked with Dustin Johnson longer than anyone and his star pupil enjoyed a dominant 2020 season, capped by his Masters victory. That was only part of Terrell’s success this year. Located at TPC Myrtle Beach, the Dustin Johnson Golf School, which caters to everyone from beginners to Tour pros, continued to thrive, helping Terrell earn Teacher of the Year Honors From the Carolinas PGA Section and, of course, us!
Sore Losers Award: I played in a 24-man tournament affectionately dubbed the “Helltown Classic,” a nod to the nickname of the place I grew up – Front Royal, Va. It was a handicap event and yours truly overcame the odds, withstanding an 18-hole verbal barrage from Darren Yowell, Pat Pullen’s never-ending head turns, and my own mental demons. As a reward, I won the “10 pounds of gold” (Wooo!) and have been subjected to (mostly) good-natured ribbing about my handicap, which I outperformed by two strokes during that magical round. With that in mind, here are the proud recipients of our 2020 Sore Losers Award: Mike Ritter, George Ritter, Jason Hoffman, Chad Chrisman, Bryan Chrisman, Brian Whetzel, Kris McCarty, Steve Williams, Yowell and Pullen. Congrats, guys!! There is always next year!! (top photo, golf writer Chris King receiving the belt!)