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I am delighted to announce the 2012 Brunswick Beacon Tournament of Champions will be played on Nov. 3-4 at Sandpiper Bay Golf and Country Club, a 27-hole facility in Sunset Beach designed by Dan Maples.
For the past nine years, the Beacon has sponsored this playoff for all of the county champs. The TOC is open to club champions (men and women) of courses that have memberships. Their championship must have been played in a scratch format (no handicaps), in either medal or match play.
If the champion cannot make it for any reason, there are no substitutes allowed.
On that special weekend in November, we celebrate all our club champions. We’ve had champions with a +4 and others with 17 handicaps but we never mention handicaps in our publicity or during the tournament. Once someone wins a championship, he or she will represent the club. They were the best of the best at that time and place and they deserve the kudos and the honor of playing in the TOC.
There are no real prizes in the Tournament of Champions, just a nice trophy for each of the two winners (men and women). Their names also get engraved on the two traveling trophies, which go to their home club until the next TOC.
The tournament is pure golf. No mulligans, raffles, door prizes, closest to the pin, longest drive or net awards.
Last week, Richard Kascsak (director of Golf at Sandpiper Bay), Tim Tilma (general manager at Sandpiper Bay), and Scott Harrell (publisher of The Brunswick Beacon) met at Sandpiper to iron out the final details of the 2012 edition of the Tournament of Champions.
“We are delighted to host the Tournament of Champions this year,” Richard said. “The champions love this tournament because it is simple, pure and clean. Just U.S.G.A. rules over 36 holes of golf. That’s how golf has always been played.”
Several years ago, in the heart of the recession, the owners and management of Sandpiper Bay decided to invest in a huge renovation. They renovated bridges and cart paths and tees. They took out trees, planted others and, best of all, changed their old bent grass greens to MiniVerde Bermuda. The project was done over three years, one nine at a time.
“All that work and effort was worth it,” Tim said. “In 2010, Sandpiper Bay was named Golf Course of the Year by the Myrtle Beach Area Golf Course Owners Association. That’s a huge honor. We look forward to hosting the champions next November. I think they will really enjoy our course.”
Scott, the publisher of the Beacon, has been a supporter and promoter of the Tournament of Champions since it first began back in 2004.
“The Beacon is behind the tournament all the way,” he said. “This is a big golf area, both recreationally and as a business enterprise. This tournament highlights our champions and lets everyone see the high caliber of golfers in Brunswick County.”
I spoke with several previous club champions and they all agreed the Tournament of Champions is the highlight of the year for them.
“It’s an honor to play in the tournament and to represent my club,” explained Terry Sinay, winner of the championship at Rivers Edge in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. “It’s an outstanding event each year. For most clubs, it’s become a perk of winning the championship. You have a chance to go on to the next level and compete again.”
Mona Dye Boob, has won the Brierwood Championship for the past six years. In 2006, she tied in the Tournament of Champions with Sandy Hulberg of The Lakes. She won outright in 2008 and 2009.
“It’s very exciting,” she said. “I’d like to play in it again, but first I have to win here at Brierwood. Nothing is ever certain, but I’ll try.”
Monte Beebe was the Sea Trail men’s champion in 2007, 2008 and 2011. A seasoned competitor who often is neck and neck with Mike DePauw, his good friend and Sea Trail champ in 2005, 2009 and 2010. Monte said, “I’d love to play in it again, but first I have to get past Mike.”
Judy Nicoletti has won the women’s championship at Sandpiper Bay every year since 2008. Last year, she won the Tournament of Champions.
“I am thrilled that the tournament is coming to my home course,” she said. “I love competition and hope to represent Sandpiper again this year. Whatever happens, I’ll have a good time. The greens are consistent year round, so I know the champions will enjoy the tournament next November.”
The Tournament of Champions was first played in 2004. It all began when several area champions suggested that a county championship be held at the end of the season. The Beacon jumped on that idea and the Tournament of Champions has been a reality ever since.
The tournament has changed little since it began. In the first few years, a fancy sit-down dinner was held on Saturday night. The champions suggested discontinuing that part of the event because no one wanted to go home after a grueling round, get all dressed up and drive back to the course for a dinner, then get up early to play serious golf again.
The dinner bit the dust.
For the first few years, the tournament was held in December. Everyone froze in the cold and rain and wind. One year, we had sleet. Now, the tournament takes place the first part of November. The championships have all been played by then and the weather is must more favorable.
Jim Curry won the championship at St. James for the first time last year and then went on to win the Tournament of Champions.
“The Thistle was a great venue last year,” he said. “They really did it up well. Basically, the tournament is for the champions and everyone appreciates that. I hope to qualify again.”
Women winners of the Tournament of Champions are: 2004—Marie Strickler (Carolina Shores), 2005—Jeanne Maxon (Ocean Ridge), 2006—Mona Dye Boob (Brierwood) and Sandy Hulburg (The Lakes), 2007—Dale Calhoon (Brick Landing, in a playoff with Mona Dye Boob), 2008 and 2009—Mona Dye Boob, 2010—Debbie Holstather (St. James) and 2011—Judy Nicoletti (Sandpiper Bay).
Men winners of the Tournament of Champions are: 2004—Richard Curwen (St. James), 2005—Bill Stanley (Carolina Shores), 2006—Bill Calhoun (Sandpiper Bay), 2007—Mike Verhoosky (Lockwood Folly), 2008-2009—Peter Allen (St. James), 2010—Bill Calhoun (Sandpiper Bay) and 2011—Jim Curry (St. James).
So, all you low-handicappers and wanna-be champions, dust off your game, get out to the range, buy new clubs, take a refresher course from an area pro and get going. You could be the next winner of the Tournament of Champions.
Golf Gab groaner
Harry and Mary were on their way to the club when Harry commented on an article he had recently read.
“The article said that women use 30,000 words a day and men use only 15,000 a day. Isn’t that interesting?”
Mary replied, “The reason has to be because we have to repeat everything we say to our men.”
Harry turned to Mary and asked, “What?”
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for The Beacon. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.