For many people, golf is a game passed down through family, a means to bond in good times and bad. One of the game’s great celebrations of its familial roots – the Father-Son Team Classic – is quickly approaching.
The 13th annual tournament, which is open to any father-son type relationship, including grandfather-son, stepson-father and son-in-law (uncle)-nephew, will take place in Myrtle Beach July 22-24. More than 1,200 golfers will come to the Grand Strand to play one of the game’s most unique tournaments.
At the 54-hole event’s heart is the time fathers and sons spend together. For some, the tournament reinforces already strong bonds, but for others it has helped mend fractured relationships.
“In the tournament’s second year, I was in middle of giving out flight prizes and a guy came up and said, ‘I’ve got to talk to you,’” said Robert Harper, the tournament’s founder. “He said my son and I hadn’t talked for seven years. There was a rift between my wife and his wife. Out of the blue he called me and said, dad let’s play golf. We sat down and talked about it, came here and met. We each brought our wives and found out it was a misunderstanding.’”
Those moments, while atypical, speak to the tournament’s emotional pull.
“(Players) will tell you, ‘We came in here thinking it was important to win, and we left realizing we won just by spending three days here,” Harper said.
The tournament, which features rounds of better ball, alternate shot, and Captain’s Choice, isn’t just about family. The event’s 2010 course lineup is outstanding. The four courses at Barefoot Resort, Grande Dunes, Tidewater, Southcreek at Myrtle Beach National, Founders Club, Legends, Thistle and Pine Lakes are all hosting tournament rounds.
The Father-Son divides players into 26 flights based on their verifiable USGA handicap. The flights are named after past golf legends and current PGA Tour stars.
The good times don’t end with each round. There is a skills contest, sponsored by Ruth’s Chris, that includes putting, chipping and a long drive after the first two rounds, and an awards ceremony and cookout following the final round.
The number and range of father-son combinations participating in the event speak to its popularity. Former athletes and politicians such as Lou Holtz, 1960 World Series MVP Bobby Richardson, and former South Carolina governor Jim Hodges, all of whom were named “Father of the Year,” have played.
Joe Louis Barrow, the son of boxing legend Joe Louis and the CEO of the First Tee program, was named Father of the Year in 2009.
July is a month where families crowd into the Myrtle Beach area, filling the beach, and the Father-Son Team Classic blends the concept of a family vacation and golf.
For first time participants, the Father-Son costs $1,175 per team. The cost is $950 for past participants. Registration includes the cost of all three rounds of golf, cart included, a $200 PGA Tour Superstore gift card for each player, a hat, shirt, balls and more. The entry fee also includes dinner at the awards ceremony for each player and a guest.
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