World Am attracts world travelers

Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday pointed out this is the third consecutive year the tournament has seen growth. The tournament's 3,400 players are the event's most since 2008. | Source: Stephanie Robusto
Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday pointed out this is the third consecutive year the tournament has seen growth. The tournament's 3,400 players are the event's most since 2008. | Source: Stephanie Robusto

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Thousands of golfers are in town competing on local courses. However, it is where they are from that really make this amateur tournament unique.

From Australia and Austria to Bermuda and Brazil, 34 countries are represented on local courses during this year's Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship.

One international golf amateur, Marco Colombo, came to visit the Grand Strand after a friend participated in the golf tournament last year. Before he finished his first round of golf, the Italian golfer already decided he wants to return to Myrtle Beach.

Of course, not all golfers have to travel so far from home. Nearly 50 states are represented on the fairways and the tournament continues to grow.

Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday pointed out this is the third consecutive year the tournament has seen growth. The tournament's 3,400 players are the event's most since 2008.

The non-profit trade association also noted this year's tournament has a decidedly international flavor. Myrtle Beach hopes the Golf Capital can capitalize on this international tourism.

In fact, the World Am sparked interest in the area from Chinese visitors. Earlier this month, an international film crew came to the coast to highlight the Grand Strand in a feature film for Chinese Cable Television (CCTV).

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce said the interest in the Myrtle Beach area started during the World Am.

In fact, the current owner of the Crown Park Golf Club played in the tournament and decided to buy a course.

The Black Bear Golf Club has a similar story. Kang Zou came to visit South Carolina with his family from China, when they fell in love with the area and decided to purchase the course.

"We found this area is very beautiful, the sunshine and the temperature is very good," said Kang Zou.

Zou wants to transform the Black Bear course for international and national golfers, alike. He explained the appeal for Chinese golfers include the affordable price per round.

"In China, only very rich men can play golf," said Zou. So few people in China get to play golf that the owner never actually had the opportunity to play before buying the course in Longs.

As it becomes easier for people from China to travel, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce hopes to tap into that international travel market.

The golf industry will be a big pull for Chinese visitors.

"A Chinese player wants to play different levels and improve his skills," explained Zou, adding that Horry County has multiple courses at different skill-levels that everyone can play.

"In China, one city only has two or three golf course," he said.

The tournament will continue all week with the Championship held on Friday.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.