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Tee sheets are still filled, tournaments receive so many entries that qualifying rounds are often necessary, and equipment sales keep cash registers jingling in pro shops.

Indeed, the re-kindling of golf — represented by everyone from the top-level pros to recreational duffers — remains strong, a little more than a year after players rediscovered the sport amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“A lot more of people just want to play golf now,” said Biff Lathrop, executive director of the South Carolina Golf Association.

Pros around the Midlands report that the increase in participation that begin last year with people seeking outdoor activity during the pandemic remains strong. Along the Grand Strand, business is booming.

The SCGA received more than 400 entries, the most in years, for the South Carolina Amateur, and the quality of players makes qualifying more challenging than ever.

“It’s pretty daunting (for a player) to stand on the first tee and know he needs to shoot par to make the Amateur field,” Lathrop said.

The Amateur, set for Aug. 5-8 at DeBordieu near Georgetown, and the South Carolina Women’s Open, which will be played Aug. 13-15 at Cobblestone Park GC in Blythewood, are big events later in the summer.

Meanwhile, the Columbia men’s and women’s championships, canceled by the pandemic last summer, will unfold over a six-day stretch in mid-July. The Midlands Chevy Dealers men’s tourney will be played July 15-17 at the Spur at Northwoods, and the Sonic women’s event is set for July 19-20 at the CC of Lexington.

Madison Branum won the 2019 women’s title and Nancy Dodge will be seeking to win the senior competition for the sixth straight year. Jarrett Grimes (overall), Walter Odiorne (seniors) and Jimmy Martin (super seniors) will defend their men’s championships.

“We’ll have 115 to 120 players, and if it’s anything like 2019, we will have an exciting tournament,” said Allen Knight, the men’s tournament director.

Grimes edged John Obrien and Zach McLain by one stroke to win the 2019 title with the championship hanging in the balance on the final putts. Odiorne earned his third straight seniors title, edging Bob Edens on the third playoff hole. Martin used a strong finishing kick to lead the super seniors for the second time.

Former champions among the early entries include Grimes, who will be seeking his third title, Robert Dargan, Eddie Hargett and Brian Lee. “Plus, with players such as Brad Krapfel, David Dargan. Matthew Hutto and Jonathan Mathias, we have a really strong field,” Knight said.

The tournament will continue to use COVID protocols and players will be required to leave the course after completing their rounds.

Leading into those tournaments will be the Palmetto Amateur, set for Wednesday to Saturday at Palmetto GC in Aiken. The field of 78 includes players from 14 states and 10 international competitors.

Nick Lyerly, who plays for UNC Greensboro, heads the field. He finished fourth in the 2020 Palmetto and is currently ranked 85th in the world amateur golf rankings. Jonathan Griz, a high-schooler from Hilton Head who became the youngest State Amateur champion in 2020, also will compete.

“It’s a great time for golf everywhere and especially in South Carolina,” the SCGA’s Lathrop said. “Clubs and organizations have done a great job during the pandemic, and we need to do our part to keep the momentum going in the days ahead.

“People have learned any age and any gender can get out and enjoy the game. The number of players we have at all levels is encouraging for the future.”

Chip shots. Brent Roof (Columbia) won his sixth SCGA Lefthanders title and teamed with brother Barry Roof (Myrtle Beach) to claim the Lefty-Righty championship at Lake Marion GC in Santee. In seniors’ competition, Rich Weston (Pawleys Island) captured the Lefthanders title and joined with Steve Horton (Moncks Corner) to lead the lefty-righty field. . . . Jensen Castle (West Columbia) and Rachel Kuehn (Asheville, North Carolina) combined to win their second straight Carolinas Women’s Four-Ball title at Orangeburg CC. Jayne Pardus (Mt. Pleasant) and Kerry Rutan (Daniel Island) earned the senior division championship. . . . Jason Steiner (Fort Mill) edged Brian Quackenbush (Aiken) 1-up to claim the South Carolina Match-Play title at Mount Vintage GC in North Augusta. . . . In juniors’ competition, Rowan Sullivan (Charleston) won the SCGA’s State Junior title at Forest Lake Club, Madison Messimer (Myrtle Beach) prevailed in the WSCGA’s Junior Girls tournament at Arcadian Shores GC in Myrtle Beach and Walker Jennings (Greenville) captured the Grant Bennett Florence Junior Invitational at Florence CC.


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