There's no question: When it comes to golf, you can watch at the highest level and compete at yours in South Carolina this year.
Especially for visitors from colder Northern climates, April is the start of the golf year. The Masters is a rite of spring, and just across the Savannah River from Augusta are plenty of SC courses for those who like to play as well as watch. From Aiken to Columbia and in-between, both public and private links extend a welcome to golf-starved tourists, with prices for every budget.
If you're visiting South Carolina but can't manage a Masters ticket, an alternative is the South Carolina Golf Association's annual Golf Ball, held at the State Fair Grounds in Columbia to benefit the SC Junior Golf Foundation. With coverage of the Masters on big-screen TVs, plenty of food and drink and both live and silent auctions on golf gear, clothing, vacation trips and more, it's a fun way to ease into the Masters mindset. Visit SCJGF.org for information.
The year's first major is just the start of a golf-lover's fortnight, with the PGA Tour's finest moving from Augusta to Hilton Head and Sea Pines Plantation's Harbour Town Golf Links. There, the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing has been a tour staple since 1969, with a list of past champions - Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Payne Stewart among them - to rival any tournament, including majors.
In fact, the PGA Tour's members voted Harbour Town as their second-favorite annual stop, behind only Augusta National. With a laid-back vibe, beaches and restaurants and more, Hilton Head is the perfect decompression chamber after the Masters - for players and fans, too. For ticket information, visit rbcheritage.com.
If you want to see PGA Tour players up close, the annual Hootie & The Blowfish Monday After The Masters Pro-Am is worth a Myrtle Beach detour en route to Hilton Head. This charity outing features a number of players who played the week before (and/or will play the week after), with a Sunday night concert kicking things off. Tickets in 2017 go on sale Feb. 22 and start at $20, with the event raising millions over the years for junior golf in South Carolina. Go to HootieGolf.com.
Other top events on the 2017 SC golf calendar include the BMW Charity Pro-Am in Greenville, where future PGA Tour stars vie in the Web.com Tour event; tickets are available at PGATour.com. This year, the nation's finest female amateurs will battle in the US Women's Amateur Four-Ball at Myrtle Beach's fabled The Dunes Golf & Beach Club. Admission is free.
For those who love competition and a good time, it's hard to top the Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship, billed as the largest one-site golf tournament in the world. Each summer the Grand Strand offers up the best of its nearly 100 courses for the event, which allows players of all skill levels to compete on a level playing field. Registration begins in March; visit WorldAM.GolfNet.com.
Below are the top events administered by the SC Golf Association, Women's SC Golf Association and Carolinas Golf Association (North and South Carolina) taking place in South Carolina in 2017, including qualifying events for US Golf Association tournaments. Whether your aim is to compete or just watch, there's a tournament near you, with free admission. Just looking to try out a variety of courses and compete, too? The SCGA and Women's SCGA offer one-day tournaments at locations across the state.
Major Spectator Events:
April 10: Hootie & The Blowfish Monday After the Masters Pro-Am, Barefoot Resort, North Myrtle Beach.
May 18-21: BMW Charity Pro-Am Presented by SYYNEX Corporation, Thornblade Club, The Preserve at Verdae and Furman University Golf Club, Greenville.
Other Tournaments to check out:
March 20-21: SCGA Senior Four-Ball Championship, The Reserve Golf Club, Pawleys Island.
April 17: Jane Covington Tournament, Orangeburg Country Club.
April 24: SCGA Trescott Championship (SCGA-SCPGA), Columbia CC, Blythewood.
May 7-9: Carolinas Four-Ball Championship, Camden Country Club.
May 7-9: SCGA Senior Championship, Dataw Island Club, Dataw Island.
May 8: US Open Local Qualifying, DeBordieu Club, Pawleys Island.
May 8-9: WSCGA Senior Championship, Columbia Country Club, Blythewood.
May 20-21: WSCGA Green Valley Girls Classic, Green Valley Country Club, Greenville.
May 24-28: SCGA Four-Ball Championship, Musgrove Mill GC, Clinton.
June 6: US Senior Open Local Qualifying, Wexford Plantation, Hilton Head.
June 6-8: SCGA Junior Championship, Columbia CC, Blythewood.
June 12-15: WSCGA Amateur Championship, Thornblade Club, Greer.
June 15: SCGA Dudley-Sullivan Father-Son Championship, Greenville CC, Greenville.
June 16-18: Carolinas SC Amateur Match Play Championship, The Carolina Country Club, Spartanburg.
June 24-25: SCGA Lefthander Championship/Lefty-Righty Championship, Lake Marion Golf Club, Santee.
June 28: SCGA Amateur qualifying, Lake Marion Golf Club.
July 6: WSCGA US Junior Qualifying, Mid-Carolina Country Club.
July 5-6: US Amateur Local Qualifying, Columbia Country Club, Blythewood.
July 10: SCGA Amateur qualifying, Three Pines Golf Club, Woodruff.
July 12: SCGA Amateur qualifying, Country Club of Lexington.
July 13-16: Carolinas Amateur Championship, The Golf Club at Briar's Creek, John's Island.
July 21-22: SCGA-Georgia Junior Team Matches, Bulls Bay Golf Club, Awendaw.
July 24: US Senior Amateur Local Qualifying, Forest Lake Club, Columbia.
July 25-27: Carolinas Women's Match Play, Rock Hill Country Club.
Aug. 2: WSCGA US Senior Qualifying, The Members Club at Woodcreek, Blythewood.
Aug. 5-7: WSCGA SC-Georgia Junior Girls Matches, DeBordieu Club, Pawleys Island.
Aug. 19: WSCGA US Mid-Amateur Qualifying, Country Club of Lexington.
Aug. 25-26: WSCGA Cross State Shootout, Greenville Country Club.
Aug. 28: US Amateur Four-Ball Local Qualifying, The Club at Briar's Creek, John's Island.
Sept. 9-10: SCGA Senior Better-Ball Championship, Santee Country Club, Santee.
Sept. 11: US Mid-Amateur Local Qualifying, Camden Country Club.
Sept. 23-24: SCGA Players Four-Ball Championship, Columbia Country Club, Blythewood.
Oct. 17-18: SCGA Harry Wilson Super Senior Championship, Ocean Point Golf Club, Fripp Island.
Oct. 28: WSCGA US Women's Four-Ball Qualifying, Columbia Country Club, Blythewood.
Nov. 20: SCGA Lathrop Cup, Mid-Carolina Golf Club, Prosperity.