It is that time of year where we are beginning to receive calls from new and past players all asking that magic question.
What 4 courses will I be playing when I get to the 2019 Myrtle Beach World Amateur? Truth be told this a great question that everyone wants to know the answer to five minutes ago. The reason this question is so common is because we will use 60 different courses during the week of the event and each player will only get to play 4 of these courses. The answer to the question for now is we, just like you, have no idea.
As a staff the process of assigning courses to flights is one of the most challenging things we do all year long. We have to come up with roughly 33 different rotations of 4 courses that are all considered equal by everyone competing in the event. If you want to talk about a task that is pretty much impossible, I promise this is the task. This sounds difficult to do without even mentioning all of the different variables that go into the flighting process from beginning to end.
When courses are assigned, we don’t just get to pick courses that are equal to one another and call it a day. We look at the quality of the courses, but also how many days each course is hosting a round. Are they hosting all four days, or just two specific days like Monday and Wednesday? Of the four courses being used players should be playing one course in central Myrtle Beach, one course on the south end, one course on the north end and that final course can be located about anywhere that fits. We also have to make sure everyone is driving about the same amount of time to the courses they play throughout the week. Participants should be able to experience the different areas the Grand Strand has to offer them as they scatter to their various courses daily.
These variables alone make it tough to piece everything together, but we also have players that come back to the event year after year. Having so many courses being used at the event presents us with the opportunity to have each golfer play four new courses each year they come. While we are looking at location, driving distance, and course quality we also pull a list of what courses every handicap range in every age group has played each of the three previous tournaments. We try our best to make sure the participants that come to the event for four years in a row are playing 4 different courses each time they come. All of these different pieces to this giant puzzle that we now have in front of us do not simply fit exactly where we want them to go.
2014 Assignments Flights 1-35 / 36-76.
We additionally need to make sure that we have a tee box that fits in the right distance to be played for the handicap and age range of each flight. We have chart on our Frequently Asked Questions page of our website that tells players what distance they can expect to play from on each course they play. If the tees don’t fall in that exact distance range, we definitely get to hear about it.
For example, if you are a 60 to 69 years old and male golfer with a 5-10 handicap, we let you know ahead of time that you can expect to play courses where the distance of the tees you will play will range from 5800-6200 yards. We may have a course that fits all of the previous things we have looked at perfectly but the only tees they have available at the course measure 5,680 yards and 6,321 yards. Well we can’t use the course anymore and just like that the puzzle we had has gone from a somewhat complicated puzzle to a Rubik’s cube.
The variables involved and the rules that we follow as we piece these rotations together are what really make it a challenge. We will start with a blank table where we have to piece in 33 courses a day for four days. This leaves us with 132 open spaces to fill in with golf courses that have to fit in each category that we have mentioned. The first hour of this process is easy of course, but as we get further into the process the pieces are not fitting where we want them to go at all. We then have to start moving things around, but each time you move a piece you have to check everything again to make sure it fits in its new place. This is where the final variable in the room comes into play.
We will have 3-4 staff members in the room working on putting this together. We will always all have different opinions of the golf courses in regards to what courses are great and which ones are just average. I mean what makes a course great anyway? Is it the layout? The view? How much it cost normally to play outside of the event? Is it how good of condition the course is in when you play it? I am not sure, but I may give a detailed well thought out reason why a course deserves to be in a space and then one of my colleagues tries to tell me why I am completely wrong. Now opinions are flying from multiple directions while someone else trying to play arbitrator in the room.
This happens all day long from about 8am to until about 8pm when we finally all give up for the day. We give our brains a break and decide that coming back the following day to continue is a good idea.
We come back the following morning and will spend half of the day spinning the Rubik’s cube to make all the puzzle pieces fit as perfectly as possible. We will argue about a million different things from start to finish. Keep in mind we are putting these rotations together to make everything as equal as possible for 3,300 golfers of completely different ages and abilities who all have their own opinions about what makes a course rotation perfect. You can bet their reasons are different than ours, or anyone else playing in the event for that matter, on what makes a perfect course rotation.
There really is no perfect end result to the flighting of the tournament. The task is time consuming and is an impossible task for anyone to say they have mastered once complete. Once participants get to finally see the rotation they can have as much fun as they want comparing all of the different rotations and poking as many holes in them as they would like.
For now, you will all just have to find a way to “Trust the Process” as we promise when flighting time comes we are going to do everything in our power to make the rotations as equal and close to perfect as we can get them for everyone competing in the event.