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World Amateur Championship cements Myrtle Beach's claim as 'Golf Capital of the World'

Shane SharpBy Shane Sharp,

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C -- With 120 some odd courses and a social and economic fabric dedicated to the game of golf, it is easy to see why Myrtle Beach was once dubbed the "Golf Capital of the World." What some folks don't realize is the area's dedication to the game goes beyond beer soaked recreational rounds and evening entertainment.

Myrtle Beach hosts a handful of meaningful charity and amateur tournaments, none of which has more national appeal and local impact than the Dupont Coolmax World Amateur Championship. In two weeks, more than 4,000 golfers from 50 states and 30 countries will tee it up on 80 Grand Strand courses to determine the amateur champion of the world. Over four days, participants will play four different courses. On the fifth day, a champion is crowned at the Tournament Player's Club of Myrtle Beach.

But to say there's one winner when the 20th edition of the Dupont hits town next week is a major oversight. More than 4,000 people who love the game so much they are willing to travel hundreds, even thousands of miles for the good times at the World's Largest 19th Hole. They win. The Grand Strand residents and businesses are flooded with golfers with disposable income. They win.

It wasn't always this way.

It started back in 1982 when Paul Himmelsbach and Marvin Arnsdorff met for lunch at Antoine's at Tower Place in Atlanta. Himmelsbach, a Myrtle Beach-based magazine publisher, and Arnsdorff, a Golf Digest advertising and sales manager, were discussing ways to bring more tourists to the beach during the slow week leading up to Labor Day weekend.

On a cocktail napkin (isn't it always a cocktail napkin) the two gentlemen sketched their plan for an international amateur event that would be as enjoyable as it was competitive. Thus the World's Largest 19 Hole. Arnsdorff and Himmelsbach proposed that the Myrtle Beach Convention and Visitor's Bureau be transformed into the Strand's largest ad hoc buffet and watering hole.

In 1983, using their magazine connections, the duo had the "World Amateur" announced on the pages of Golf Digest and Himmelsbach's regional glossy, On the Green Magazine. By 1984, 684 ready and willing participants from three Canadian provinces and four foreign countries had signed on the dotted line for a week of golf, food, and drink.

The first tournament was an unqualified success, and the event's popularity soared off of the charts. The number of entrants nearly doubled to 1,187 the following year and golfers from around the world caught wind of the event. Case in point: a South African ostrich rancher won the new car giveaway that year, but due to obvious logistical issues, opted for a $5,000 payout instead.

With word of the tournament's popularity spreading like Poa Anna, the World Amateur entered a partnership with DuPont in 1986. DuPont took over title sponsorship of the World Amateur and has since become synonymous with the tournament.

Alas, the DuPont Coolmax World Amateur Handicap Championship celebrated its fifth anniversary in 1988 with 2,181 participants. That tournament also saw the introduction of the Flight Winner's Playoff, which brought all flight winners together to crown the "World Champion."

The event's popularity kept ascending and tournament organizers continued to make improvements that made the experience more enjoyable and efficient for players. In 1992, the World Amateur was extended from 54 holes to 72, making its playing conditions identical to those on the PGA Tour.

The tournament celebrated its 10th anniversary in 1993 with a record 3,532 entrants and the introduction of the first Super Senior Division for golfers 65 and older. Recognition of the event continued to grow when it was named the "Outstanding Tourism Event" in the state by the South Carolina Governor's Conference in 1993 and 1994.

The World Amateur experienced two historic firsts in 1997. The event enjoyed a record 4,414 participants, marking the first time the tournament surpassed the 4,000-player plateau, and a woman was crowned World Champion. Rhonda Oeters, a 34-handicap from Greenville, S.C., bested the field in the Flight Winners Playoff at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club to capture the title. (Note: Oeters' 34-handicap remains the highest by any "World Champion," proving you don't necessarily have to have "game" to take home the trophy.)

The loyalty and dedication of the tournament's participants was never more obvious than in 1999. With hurricane Dennis menacing the coast, 4,863 golfers from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries still made the trek. The Grand Strand avoided a direct hit, and though the event was shortened to 54 holes after the opening round was washed out, the tournament went off without a hitch.

In 2000, the World Amateur surpassed 5,000 participants, forcing tournament organizers to cap the field. To make the tournament even more competitive, Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday created six divisions within the tournament field men (49 and under), senior men (50-59), mid senior men (60-69), super senior men (70 and over), women (49 & under) and senior women (50 and over).

The public has responded to the event and its unique format from the outset. Over its history, more than 57,000 golfers have participated in the tournament, which is now played on more than 80 courses along the Grand Strand.

A tournament that began over a casual lunch between two men with a love for Myrtle Beach golf has grown into one of the largest golfing events. With the only requirement for participation being a certified United States Golf Association handicap or the foreign equivalent, the DuPont Coolmax World Amateur Handicap Championship truly has become the world's greatest amateur golf tournament.

2003 DuPont Coolmax World Amateur Handicap Championship

The DuPont Coolmax World Amateur Handicap Championship is a four-day, 72-hole flighted tournament open to any amateur golfer with a verified USGA handicap or the foreign equivalent. The 20th annual event will be played on approximately 80 courses in the Myrtle Beach area. A fifth day play-off of all flight winners and ties will be played at the TPC of Myrtle Beach to determine the world champion.

Fast Fact

• This year's event, scheduled for Aug. 25 through Aug. 29, will be the 20th anniversary tournament.

• The tournament field includes six divisions: men (49 years of age and younger), senior men (50-59 years of age), mid-senior men (60-69 years of age), super senior (70 years of age and older), women (49 years of age and younger) and super senior women (50 years of age and older).

• Players will be flighted according to their handicap index, with a maximum handicap index of 36.4 for men, and 40.4 for women. Each flight averages 100 players.

• Entry fee for this year's tournament is $465 ($505 after July 1) and includes:

• Four rounds of golf (cart included) on four different golf courses.
• Matched handicap flights.
• Four evenings of food, drinks, golf exposition, live entertainment, contests and camaraderie at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
• A final day championship playoff at the TPC of Myrtle Beach.
• A gift bag on arrival as well as trophies, top-10 prizes in each flight, and random drawing prizes all with a total value of more than $400,000.

• Each flight is assigned to four golf courses and pairings are arranged so players are in different foursomes each day.

• Players can access course assignments at PlayDupont.com.

• All participants receive a mailing in early July requesting their current handicap index. Tournament staff uses that verified index to flight each player within their respective division.

• Each of the approximately 50 flights have ten identical prizes plus trophies for first, second and third place finishers and plaques for positions four through 10.

• There are contests for low net, long drive, and closest to the pin. Holes-in-one receive a special prize as well. As an extra attraction, there are random drawings (participants only) for prizes including exotic trips, golf clubs, and golf memorabilia.

Consumed at The World's Largest 19th Hole …

• 35,000 cocktails, 60 kegs of beer
• 140 gallons of she crab soup
• 69 turkeys
• 12 Hams
• 4 fully roasted pigs
• 1,000 lbs of pulled pork
• 27,000 meatballs
• 100 pans of lasagna
• 75 pans of cobbler

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Tournament

    CD BOUNDS wrote on: May 17, 2011

    Would like aa application for the 2011 tournament?
    Played in the first 10 tournaments.


      • RE: Tournament

        Howard Tyndall wrote on: Jun 19, 2011

        Could i get an entry form for this year's tournament. This is my second request.


          • RE: RE: Tournament

            Alfred Williams wrote on: Aug 10, 2011

            I would like to play in this years event. I was born in 1945.2/9/45 and I would like to play in the mid-senior (60-69)


              • RE: RE: RE: Tournament

                Alfred Williams wrote on: Aug 10, 2011

                I would like to play in the mid-senior (60-69). I was born in 1945. 2/9/45.


                  • RE: RE: RE: RE: Tournament

                    Alfred Williams wrote on: Aug 23, 2011

                    I would like to know my handicap and flight. I am in the (60-69 age group)Thanks.Al


  • dates

    john wrote on: Jan 24, 2011

    need info on the 2011 tourney.....ifinally am making the trip to play


  • Dupont coolmax tournament 2011

    Steve Badial wrote on: Jan 10, 2011

    Ready to play in this year's event. Could you please send me information when it becomes available. Coming from Colorado Need to schedule time off with employer.


      • RE: Dupont coolmax tournament 2011

        Ed Young wrote on: Jan 26, 2011

        please e-mail me information for the 2011 coolmax tournament.


      • RE: Dupont coolmax tournament 2011

        Ed Young wrote on: Jan 26, 2011

        please e-mail me information for the 2011 coolmax tournament.


  • dupont

    don halker wrote on: Jan 4, 2011

    played in this event 10 years ago...loved it and enjoyed the people i met..please send me info. to register this year. thank you..cant wait to come back.


  • Info

    Doug Renshaw wrote on: Jan 2, 2011

    Please send me information to register for this tournament


  • Coolmax World Amateur Championship

    Rick Gieringer wrote on: Jul 6, 2010

    Please send me information about the Dupont Coolmax World Amateur Championship for August 2010. Enrollment, etc.


      • RE: Coolmax World Amateur Championship

        eugene donato wrote on: Nov 26, 2010

        I would like to find out infor. on this tournament. Please contact me. Thank you very much.


      • RE: Coolmax World Amateur Championship

        charles eddings wrote on: Jul 30, 2010

        question. I playd in world am 2 years 4-5 years ago and stopped golfing last 2 years and have not built a handicap. I am now 50 years old. is it too late to enter and can i use the last handicap your group had for me


  • CoolMax World Amateur Handicap Championahip

    Juanita M. Norwood wrote on: May 13, 2010

    Please send me a registration packsge
    for the 2010 tournament. or e-mail it
    to me.


  • Dupont open

    Jack Read wrote on: Apr 27, 2010

    Is this tourn scheduled for 2010, How do I sign up?


  • 2010 tournament

    Fred Justason wrote on: Apr 15, 2010

    please send me info on how to register for this year tournament.


  • dupont open

    frank douglas wrote on: Jun 29, 2009

    we would like to rgistr for the event.
    pls let us know details, sothat we can still enjoy the discount bfore July 1. Thanks - Frank Douglas


      • RE: dupont open

        jerry parris wrote on: Jul 20, 2009

        I would like to sign up for the tournament. Please advise me how to sign up. THANKS!


          • RE: RE: dupont open

            Eugene Donato wrote on: Dec 14, 2009

            I would like to sign up for next year tournament. Please respone asap. Thanks


  • Standing

    Colleen Garner wrote on: Aug 27, 2008

    How do you go online to find the standings in each flight?


      • RE: Standing

        Robert C Johnson wrote on: Sep 7, 2009

        How can you get the flight results?


          • RE: RE: Standing

            joy lapp wrote on: Aug 27, 2013

            I would like to know how to get the standings for 2013 Sr men Flight


  • information

    Clifford Katemann wrote on: Jul 23, 2008

    I have played several times prior to this year...but I thought you had a division of over 75.,....Is that not so....?????? Thank you....CWK


  • RE: signing up for tournament

    Roger Dutremble wrote on: Jan 8, 2008

    As I previously mentioned. I've been trying to contact you for three years via this address, and no one has yet to answer.
    Could someone please write and tell me what I need to do to play in your tournament this August.
    thank you
    Roger Dutremble


      • RE: RE: signing up for tournament

        L.D. BUTCHER wrote on: Jan 15, 2008



          • RE: RE: RE: signing up for tournament

            Phil Tinsley wrote on: Jan 19, 2009

            I too would like to have more info regarding 2009 so I can sign up.


              • RE: RE: RE: RE: signing up for tournament

                Horace l. Adell jr. wrote on: Aug 3, 2009

                I would like more information about signing up for this tournament.


                  • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: signing up for tournament

                    Lynn Cormier wrote on: Oct 15, 2011

                    I would like information on the 2012 tournament, my wife and I would like to play


              • RE: RE: RE: RE: signing up for tournament

                Ted Longsworth wrote on: Jun 13, 2009

                I would like information on signing up for the 2009 dupont golf tournament.
                Ted Longsworth


                  • RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: signing up for tournament

                    CD BOUNDS wrote on: Mar 28, 2011

                    Please send information on 2011 tournament. I played the first 15 years of the tournament. Would like to play again.
                    CD Bounds


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