The World Amateur, held annually in Myrtle Beach, SC, has been the largest golf tournament anywhere over the last 37 years. If you have a legitimate golf handicap, you can join the 3,500 golfers on nearly 60 of the Grand Strand’s best golf courses from August 30 to September 3.

Participants, whose handicaps range from zero to 36, play as individuals over four days on such layouts as Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, True Blue, Pawleys Plantation, TPC Myrtle Beach, Tidewater and dozens more. Handicap ranges within the flights are very narrow. Most players, by choice, compete in net flights, but the World Am offers gross divisions as well for women, men, senior men, and mid-senior men (over 60) who prefer to play it like a PGA or LPGA event. Tournament organizers say they “can make your experience as much or as little like a [professional] event as you want.” (Note: Even those without established handicaps can join in “just for fun.”)

IMG 0508Caledonia Golf & Fish Club, arguably the best golf course on the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, is just one of the dozens of courses to be played by the 3,500 participants in the upcoming World Amateur.

At the end of the four days, winners of each of the nearly 70 flights go to a championship round at the Grande Dunes Resort, winner take all. Prizes within each flight are paid to fifth place, with the winner earning a $600 gift card to the PGA Superstore in Myrtle Beach. (Prizes for 2nd through 5th place are gift cards of $300, $150, $75 and $50, respectively.) Flights are roughly 50 golfers deep.

The major social event connected with the World Amateur is a giant cocktail hour held in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. (I haven’t yet competed in the World Am but I did attend the cocktail party, the largest I have ever been to by a factor of, probably, 100. It is a lot of fun and a great way to meet golfers from all over the world.)

Should you decide to attend this year – registration remains open until August 5 – and you are interested in real estate in the area, let me know and I will be happy to make some recommendations about which golf communities may suit you best. Most of the World Am golf courses are inside the boundaries of Myrtle Beach golf communities, so if you find you like the courses you play, let me know and I can share information about the surrounding neighborhoods.

For more information about the World Amateur, visit their web site at Have a great time and good luck.

Some years ago, I took a train to New York City from Connecticut in advance of a flight to Myrtle Beach, where I was to meet my family in Pawleys Island. As the train pulled into Grand Central Station, I arose from my seat and almost collapsed to the floor as my right knee gave out without warning. I limped around the city for a few hours before flying south, petrified that my planned golf vacation was in serious jeopardy.

On the recommendation of a neighbor in Pawleys Island, I made an appointment with a local orthopedic group. An X-ray showed some light arthritis in my knee and the doctor suggested a cortisone shot might ease my pain enough to play golf. “I expect you may need another shot in a year or so,” he told me.
That was 14 years ago and, despite an occasional dull pain in the knee, I have not come close to the pain I had before the shot. (I was on the golf course two days after the shot.) Three years ago, a physician’s assistant in the same ortho practice shot some cortisone into my other knee when it began to act up. “We can give you another shot in six months when the pain is likely to return,” he said. It hasn’t yet.

I thought about the orthopedic practice’s needle work last week when I returned there for a diagnosis and treatment of persistent pain at the base of both my thumbs. The pain was not affecting my golf game yet, but simple activities like turning an ignition key or a water faucet would send pain shooting up my thumb. I feared that, as the pain worsened, it would be harder to play golf.

I suspected arthritis because I had the same symptoms in both hands, an amateur’s diagnosis that was confirmed by X-rays. The hand specialist suggested a few approaches – from consistent use of ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve) all the way to surgery. The pain relievers are a non-starter for me; I’ve had heart surgery and my cardiologist has warned me off ibuprofen because of its blood-thinning qualities. Given my prior experience, the mid-term solution – cortisone injections at the base of both thumbs – appealed to me.

Afterwards, the doctor cautioned that, “You will probably hurt for the next three days, and then I will know in about three weeks if the shots worked.” The pain has been slight over the first three days, and I am hoping that the three-week mark will bring blessed relief. My body apparently reacts well to cortisone.

We have an entire chapter about staying fit to play golf in our book, Playing Through Your Golden Years: A Senior’s Golfing Guide, co-authored by me and Brad Chambers, whose blog site Shooting Your Age, focuses on senior golfers. The book is available in electronic form for $3.99 from Amazon.