After sketching out the idea for a world amateur golf tournament on a cocktail napkin, founders Marvin Arnsdorff and Myrtle Beach golf magazine owner Paul Himmelsbach were thrilled when the first World Am in 1984 attracted 684 players. That year, the tournament founders, their wives and friends were at the 19th hole mixing drinks, grilling burgers, and serving the baked beans and ribs catered by a local BBQ place.
9. The First Sudden Death Finish
Drama was in the air during the championship round of the 1990 World Am. Larry Wireman, a 7-handicapper from Dexter, Mich. faced off against Danny Southern of Thomasville, N.C. in the tournamentís first sudden death battle. After two holes, Wireman defeated Southern by carding a net par and taking the championship.
8. Female Golfers Take Home The Trophies
In 1997, Rhonda Oeters of Greenville, S.C. became the first woman to win the World Am. Ten years later, three women won back-to-back: June Wang of Huntersville, N.C. (2007); Paula Morton of Greenbrier, Tenn. (2008), who chipped in on the final hole of the championship round to take the title; and Linda Fuller of Richmond, Texas (2009).
7. DuPont Becomes The World Am Title Sponsor
During a 1985 round of golf with a mutual friend, two strangers ó DuPontís Bob LeComte and Golf Digestís Dick Sherwood ó started a conversation that changed World Am history. At that time, DuPont produced the Dacron in golf shirts and Surlyn for golf balls. LeComte convinced top executives to make DuPont the eventís title sponsor. That relationship lasted 19 years and helped attract players worldwide.
6. Golf.com Sponsorship Takes World Am to New Heights
When Sports Illustrated Golf Group became the tournamentís title sponsor in 2011, it brought in nationally-acclaimed writers to cover the golf event, as well as big name TV celebrities to make public appearances. For Myrtle Beach, the town where Sports Illustrated magazine was born, it was particularly sweet to be affiliated with Sports Illustrated Golf Properties.
5. A Special Golf Competition Within The Main Event Is Born
Mark Lemke, of Sheldon, Iowa, played in the World Am for more than a dozen years. His son, Cory, played and won his flight at age 15 in 2002. When Cory lost his life in a motorcycle accident at age 19, Mark looked for a special way to honor Cory. He and tournament officials created The Cory Lemke Parent-Child Tournament in 2007. Entry into the 72-hole tournament within the tournament is free for any parent/child relations playing in the World Am.
4. Winning This Golf Event Sometimes Takes More Than Game
Jim Low, a retired U.S. Army officer, fought his way into the 1993 championship round. But that wasnít the toughest battle Jim was fighting that week. Diagnosed with cancer and enduring pain that at times made swinging his club nearly unbearable, Jim self-medicated with Budweiser. The King of Beers settled his nerves, eased some of his pain, and helped the Altamonte Springs, Fla, golfer win the World Amateur Golf Championship.
3. World Am Crowns Its First Back-To-Back Winner
When Bobby Perkinson, a 3.5 handicap from Alcoa, Tenn., captured his second championship in 2011, he did more than successfully defend a title he had earned the year before. The 75-year-old entered the record books as the first player in the tournamentís 28-year history to be crowned champion two years in a row.
2. The World Am Steps Up To Help Storm Victims
As the World Am was being played in 2005, one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States was lashing the Gulf Coast and flooding New Orleans. In the span of just a few days, Hurricane Katrina destroyed property and took lives across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida. Tournament players from all over the world sprang into action. In one night alone, they raised thousands of dollars for victims of the storm. Some players also gave cash and other assistance directly to their fellow players from storm-ravished areas.
1. The World Am Family Rallies Round Its Own
John Grazioso made a lot of friends during 13 consecutive years of playing in the tournament. When 9/11 rocked the nation and it was discovered that John was among its victims, event participants reached out to his family. The family was so touched by the outpouring of support that they reserved a booth at the 2002 Expo. It was a central meeting place for Johnís family to greet and thank his World Am family as, together, they celebrated good times at the tournament he loved. The spirit of the World Am was never stronger than on that night when Johnís family and hundreds of golfers connected and remembered John.