One tournament begins, another ends on PGA Tour this week

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club may be the most history-rich course in Myrtle Beach.

OCALA, FL. – Even without a ball being hit yet, the week ahead looms as an interesting one on the PGA Tour.

Holding two concurrent events in the same week isn’t unusual on the PGA Tour, but this is a little different.  The Wells Fargo Championship, in Charlotte, N.C., and the Myrtle Beach Classic are similar in that both are 72-hole events that begin their four-day runs on Thursday.

The Carolina events aren’t that far apart either – only 172 miles, less than four-hour drive.  Otherwise there are some stark differences.

The Wells Fargo is a tournament with some rich history, while Myrtle Beach – which bills itself “the Golf Capital of the World ‘’ with some justification  — has never hosted a PGA Tour stop. The Wells Fargo is a Signature Event with a $20 million purse and many of the game’s top stars.  The Myrtle Beach Classic has a $4 million purse and its field is dominated by the young up-and-coming stars.

While the Myrtle Beach Classic is a new event, the Wells Fargo is being held for the last time.  Its inaugural playing was in 2003, and its list of champions include Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods, Anthony Kim, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fower, Brian Harman and Max Homa.  Its defending champion is Wyndham Clark, the reigning U.S. Open titlist. Wells Fargo, though, has announced that it won’t renew its sponsorship after this year’s playing.

Charlotte has been a PGA Tour site long before the Wells Fargo teed off for the first time at Quail Hollow Club, and that venue won’t be disappearing from big-time golf.  It’ll host the PGA Championship in 2025. That won’t be anything new for the club, either.  It was the site of Justin Thomas’ PGA victory in 2017 and the President’s Cup was also played there in 2022.

Robert Trent Jones Sr. created The Dunes course in 1948. (Joy Sarver Photos)

Switching the focus to Myrtle Beach, it’s shocking that this community hasn’t attracted  corporate sponsorship for a PGA Tour event until this year.  For over 40 years MB’s nearly 100 courses have been used for the World Amateur Handicap Tournament.  With entries topping 3,000 annually, it’s believed to be the biggest golf event in the world.

This is a really avid golf town,  and there have been professional tournaments held there in the past.  The U.S. Women’s Open was played in MB in 1962 and the women’s circuit held four tournaments there in the 1990s, with Australian star Karrie Webb winning two of them. Seven Senior PGA Tour Championships were also held there, the last in 2000.

Myrtle Beach even has a TPC course, and many of Dustin Johnson’s trophies are on display there. The Myrtle Beach Classic, however, will be played at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, a par-71 layout measuring 7,347 yards.  It’s the second-oldest course in Myrtle Beach.

Robert Trent Jones Sr. was the designer in 1948, and insiders believe it can be stretched a little longer to better suit PGA Tour players. Those who were early entrants included Brandt Snedeker, Jonattan Vegan, Daniel Berger, Joel Dahmer, Cameron Champ and Charley Hoffman.

Organizers of the MB event held a unique qualifying event, called The Q, as part of its pre-tournament promotional festivities.  They also had no trouble finding volunteers.  The number needed filled up quickly, — faster, they believe, than any  event with the exception of a Ryder Cup. Clearly the enthusiasm for golf on its biggest stage is bubbling over in Myrtle Beach.

The new event has one – at least minor – concern.  Sunday’s final round will be played on Mother’s Day, and that might cut into attendance. Of course, that could minimally impact the Wells Fargo, too.

What the future holds for both events is uncertain.  It’s unlikely Quail Hollow will be without a big event after the PGA Championship next year.  It’s been just too good of a tournament site and new sponsorship should be forthcoming eventually.  The Myrtle Beach Classic has a contract for two more years and would likely continue long beyond that, assuming the sponsoring and crowd support are up to expectations at the inaugural event.

The ocean views at The Dunes create a stunning backdrop for golfers.