NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – One of the Myrtle Beach area’s biggest sporting events is getting ready to tee off, but it will look very different because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The annual PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com World Amateur Handicap Championship will begin on Monday and end Friday, Sept. 4. The championship round will be held at the Dye course at Barefoot Resort and Golf.
COVID-19 has forced many sporting events to be canceled this year, but the World Am is still happening.
“The U.S. Open is probably the only thing that could even come close, but certainly, we are the world’s largest single-site golf tournament,” said World Am tournament director Scott Tomasello.
About 2,200 golfers will arrive on the Grand Strand for this tradition on the week before Labor Day. It’s the tournament’s 37th year, but because of the coronavirus, this year really is a tradition unlike any other.
The biggest change is that there won’t be the World’s Largest 19th Hole, which is a golfers expo in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
The 19th hole will go virtual and will be hosted by Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer.
“We’re also utilizing single-rider golf carts for every single player in the field, limiting the fields to a 72-person limit at each golf course and implementing tee times at every place, so a lot of indirect benefits are coming out of a bad situation,” Tomasello said.
Tomasello also says the 31 Grand Strand golf courses in the tournament will continue using the same COVID-19 protocols they’ve had since the pandemic began.
“The golf courses themselves have been open the entire time and practicing every CDC measure that we possibly can, so we feel good about where we are,” he said.
Even though the field is slightly smaller than the usual roughly 3,000 golfers, the World Am teeing off is a welcome sight for a tourism industry struggling in the pandemic.
“They’ve worked hard to, every aspect of this event, to make sure it’s safe,” said Dave Genevro, general manager of Barefoot Resort and Golf. “Our destination has been working since March.”
“Every year, we’re getting thousands of golfers to come in,” said Tomasello. “They’re spending money in our restaurants, in our hotels, in our golf courses, and that’s what we exist to do. There isn’t a venue or a destination that can do something like this, so we’re proud we have the ability.”
Spectators also won’t be allowed at this year’s World Am.