Visiting golfers get taste of PGA life and Pawleys Island
By Chris Sokoloski
A group of amateur golfers gathered at True Blue last weekend to get a taste of what it’s like to be a professional on the PGA Tour.
The 30 men from across the United States, plus two from Europe, were in town for The Morgan Cup, a 56-hole tournament hosted by The Hackers Paradise website.
During the event, cameras followed the golfers around while they played, and each man recorded testimonials about his golf equipment that will be uploaded to the website. Competitors were fitted for a new set of clubs and received clothes and accessories.
“We want to give them a true tour experience, make them feel like they were a professional on tour,” said Morgan Babbitt, who runs the website with her husband, Josh.
Thousands of golfers applied to play in this year’s tournament according to Babbitt. Each person submitted two videos: one explaining why he wanted to play in the Morgan Cup and one praising the virtues of his favorite golf equipment.
“We wanted someone we know will get on camera and be comfortable and be confident,” Babbitt said.
Twenty-four golfers were chosen and were joined by the eight players from the team that won last year’s tournament.
Golfers in this year’s tournament hailed from Ireland, Finland, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, California, Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota and Alabama.
Jeremiah Taylor of Delta, Ohio, was a member of defending champs’ team. Last year’s trip to Pawleys Island was his first visit to the area, and he has returned several times since.
True Blue is “gorgeous,” he said. “There’s definitely no golf courses like it in Ohio.”
He said competing last year was “very nerve-wracking” because “you’ve got all these cameras following you around like a tour player.”
“It’s been a crazy experience,” said Jeff Conner of Vancouver, Wash. “Even when they described what we were getting into, I never imagined it was going to be anything like this. It blows your expectations out of the water.”
It was Conner’s first visit to either of the Carolinas. He and his wife, Staci, decided to make a family vacation out of the trip, and stayed for a week, enjoying time at the beach and shopping.
Henri Savolainen travels to the United States from Vantaa, Finland, about once a year to golf.
He was looking forward to meeting the other competitors, who he has gotten to know through the forums on The Hackers Paradise website.
Savolainen loves golf because “it’s easy.”
“If you play badly you’re the only one to blame,” he said. “If you play well, the glory is all yours. Everybody keeps blaming the course or the clubs, but the course is what it is and … you’re the one hitting the clubs. Any club can’t fix a poor shot. They can help, but they won’t fix.”
Bob Seganti, director of golf operations for True Blue, said hosting the Morgan Cup allows the club to reach a younger demographic. He said the Hackers Paradise members are “extremely avid about their golf.”
“Anytime you have the opportunity to host golfers from around the county … it’s an outstanding opportunity to showcase True Blue and Caledonia for the outstanding golf courses that they are,” Seganti added.
True Blue also hosted the Morgan Cup last year.
“We knew for sure we were going to come back again,” Babbitt said.
She said feedback from golfers in the tournament about True Blue was excellent.
“It can be not easy but it can be a course that you can get through and go low, but when you do get in trouble, you’re in trouble,” she said. “And for competition that’s fun, because while you’re still in trouble you can get out, and it’s fun to watch the guys be able to get out of it and see what they can save.”
The 2013 Morgan Cup was won by Team Paradise, captained by Jason Kunze of Sioux Falls, S.D. Team members were: Anthony Mattia of Raleigh, David Kelly of Cork, Ireland, Wade Williams of Nolensville, Tenn., Austin Wade of Lakeland, Fla., Freddie Kong of Orlando, Nate Webb of Dallas, and Andrew Rebuck of Pottstown, Pa.
For more information go to www.thehackersparadise.com.
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