Golf & Friendship in Full Supply at World Am in Myrtle Beach

By: David Wood

It's only fitting the "golf buddy trip" capital of the world would host an annual event where friendship is in full supply. That's exactly the case in Myrtle Beach this week as the 29th Annual World Amateur Handicap Championship began on Monday.

The 29-year World Am Players

That's not to say the 3,100 players hailing from South Carolina to China (49 states and 25 countries are represented) won't be doing their utmost to hold the championship trophy at the conclusion of the four-day event. But in talking with participants it's immediately evident there are more ways to win than having the lowest score.

At a pre-tournament reception at Greg Norman's Australian Grille honoring those who've played in all 29 tournaments, friendship was continually brought up when longtime World Am entrants were asked why they entered year after year.

"This event is an ideal place to come to and meet new friends," said amicable Paul Ciancanelli from DeMotte, Ind. "Plus, I love the game and it's a real 72-hole tournament like the pros."

Dye Course at Barefoot Resort

Fellow 29-year alumni Don Yelton of Shelby, N.C., said, "It's great to see everyone again every year and catch up on how they're doing." He added with a wry smile, "I'm going to win this year, but I've been saying that for 29 straight years."

"It's wonderful seeing old friends come back to Myrtle Beach for the tournament," said Fred Pugh, a 71-year-old marketing exec from Columbia, S.C. "I'm going to keep playing even if it has to be in a wheelchair or on a gurney."

Even those starting new World Am streaks value the people aspect of the annual Grand Strand tournament. Richmond, Virginia's 35-year-old Jeremy Horn said just before starting his Monday round on the verdant River Club Golf Course in the South Strand, "This is my straight third year and it's really an enjoyable experience. It's all about good people. Plus I love Myrtle Beach."

With 72 holes of golf - plus an additional championship 18 for division winners on Friday - on more than 50 Grand Stand layouts, there's little doubt a multitude of new friendships will be made and many old ones rekindled. Isn't that what golf's all about?

For more information about the tournament, visit For a full array of golf vacation packages at Myrtle Beach,

In addition to writing on golf and travel, author and noted speaker David Wood has made several appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman" as well as dozens of other television shows. His book - "Around the World in 80 Rounds" - was just released in paperback on Currently he works in public relations with Buffalo Communications in Vienna, Va. His website is