042017 Tourism: Some see missed opportunity in ACC golf tourney
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Tourism: Some see missed opportunity in ACC golf tourney

By Nikki Best

The tournament’s heating up, boys.

The Reserve Golf Club hosted the NCAA Atlantic Coast Conference women’s golf championship over the weekend. This is the first time the women’s championship was held outside of North Carolina in nine years.

“When we found out we were going to host, it was very exciting,” Ellen Miller, club member and volunteer coordinator, said. “We wanted to engage our members.”

The North Carolina-based ACC relocated all its championships after the state legislature passed a law restricting use of bathrooms by transgender people. Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., was the chosen venue of the tournament before The Reserve was tapped. Both courses are owned by McConnell Golf.

“This week the whole championship venue started coming alive,” Miller said.

Signage from the ACC, an oversized golf ball and oversized, portable outdoor viewing screens rolled in last week. Each morning of play the golf carts were staged on the yard next to the club house and the volunteers showed up a half hour to one hour early to set up their carts and double check everything, Miller said.

“I’m so proud of the members,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see the members all come together.”

The almost 400-member Reserve Club opened in 1998 and is no stranger to hosting tournaments. Over the years it has hosted several other golf events like the South Carolina Open, Carolinas PGA Section Championships, Carolina Women’s Amateur and others. Miller recruited 84 volunteers for the event. Donald Clement, director of golf at the club, believes the event went off without a hitch thanks to help from the Sedgefield team.

“We would love to do this again, whether we get to, that’ll be up to the ACC,” he said.

Absent from the tournament was any representation of Georgetown County and the Tourism Management Commission.

“I’m a little disappointed,” Clement said. “I thought we’d have gotten a little more coverage.”

That’s not to say there was no media coverage. The ACC Channel and ESPN 3 broadcast live coverage each day of play. Leona Maguire, the world’s top-ranked woman amateur, led Duke to the title.

Bob Seganti is chairman of the Tourism Management Commission and director of golf operations at Caledonia Golf and Fish Club and True Blue. He said the ACC championship was not on the commission’s radar.

“Honestly, I’m about as invested in the golf business as you can get,” Seganti said. “From a golf standpoint, I wasn’t even aware that event was coming into town.”

Caledonia and True Blue hosted the Palmetto High School Golf Championship the same weekend. Seganti says the golf marketplace in the greater Myrtle Beach area was largely unaware of the ACC tournament in Pawleys Island.

“It’s certainly pro-golf and pro-tourism, but honestly it wasn’t intentional,” he said. “No one from The Reserve Club or Georgetown County approached us to help promote that event.”

The county has been more active in promoting a series of bass fishing tournaments that have been staged from its Campbell Boat Landing on the Sampit River in Georgetown. It sought the commission’s help in funding ads for the Bassmasters Elite event last spring.

The commission also has a partnership with courses that belong to the Waccamaw Golf Trail to promote play by vacationers.

If the ACC was a missed opportunity, the county was offered a mulligan by the NCAA. It announced this week that the men’s golf regional will be held at the TPC Myrtle Beach course in Murrells Inlet in 2019. It’s one of several events coming to the state.

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