The DWGC just concluded it’s 15th trip and had 96 players from 17 states and two countries – Trinidad & Tobago being the second one – arriving via land, air and sea. Golfers came from across the country but the group’s core resides in Maryland, along with its fearless leader, Adrian Conway.
In 2000, Conway and his buddies having played in and around Fort Meade, Md., for years, were ready to venture out.
“We decided to go to Myrtle Beach,” he said. “It’s the golf mecca, so let’s go.”
That first year the group had six people and was supposed to have 14 in Year 2, but Devon White got sick just before the trip and tragically passed away two months later. In honor of White, they decided to rename the group and set out to grow the trip.
“I told them, ‘If we all ask a couple people we will be in the 30s,’” Conway said.
The guys did him one better and everyone brought three people as the DWGC went from 13 to 52 in Year 3 and quickly made the jump to 70+ golfers, and the rest is history.
The 96 players this year came from California, Washington (state and the District of Columbia) Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida and Texas, and they played golf for eight consecutive days.
As you would imagine, the group runs the gamut in terms of skill. The DWGC had guys shooting under par and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, players struggling to make one par.
Conway flights players based on handicap and they play multiple games and formats throughout the week, but the DWGC has almost as much fun off the course. Some of the guys stay in timeshares, but the vast majority of the group stayed at the Caribbean, where they used the conference center as a social hub, enjoying food, drinks and camaraderie each evening.
Size isn’t the only thing that makes the DWGC unique. When most people think of a buddy trip – and Myrtle Beach hosts a lot of them – they think of guys getting together to relive the glory days. Sure the men of the DWGC have a good time, but this buddy trip includes 15 female golfers.
The first woman to join the group – Eleanor Ramsey – took the most ambitious step. A resident of Lancaster, Calif., she had always wanted to go to Myrtle Beach, but never had anyone to make the cross-country trip with.
She heard about the DWGC from a friend of friend. Next thing you know she was on the phone with Conway and booking a flight to the Golf Capital of the World.
“She has been like a sister since she got here,” Conway said. “That’s bold to come from California to Myrtle Beach.”
Ramsey, who now brings her husband on the trip, has been a regular ever since.
One part of the trip that has absolutely worked out for Conway was the decision to book through MyrtleBeachGolf.com and Jaime Thrailkill.
“She is absolutely, 100 percent professional and a joy to work,” Conway said of Thrailkill. “She is attentive to what we like to do. She played with us last year and this year she puts every ounce of effort into fulfilling that joy (the group has). We will absolutely be staying with Jamie.”
Here is a quick Q&A with Conway, who knows a thing or two about managing a large golf group.
What courses did you play this year?
It can be hard to organize and manage a group of that size; what has been the secret to having that many people and making sure they all have a good time?
AC: We try to invite people that fit. That’s what makes it so genuine. You may not see some of these people for an entire year, but when you do see them that camaraderie is still there. We don’t know a stranger.
As the leader of 96 people, issues have to occasionally arise. How do you handle those situations and what advice would you provide to other group leaders?
AC: We deal with everything that day. If something goofy is happening, we deal with it today so it doesn’t become a problem tomorrow.
How do you get 96 people on and around the course?
AC: We were able to shotgun four times this year. They wanted to stagger us out but it makes for a long day. With 12 groups on each side it’s 2 hours (from the first tee time to the last).
When will you start planning for next year?
AC: We will start looking at what we can we tweak in June, but actual planning probably starts around October.