Foursome from Philly plays its 10,000th golf hole in MB

golf-bingeman (2)Buddy trips are at the heart of Myrtle Beach’s appeal as a golf destination, and few groups have enjoyed a Grand Strand golf trip as much Ron Bingeman, Larry Spangler, Everett Cassel and Craig Aiken.

The group, with the exception of Aiken who joined in 1990, is in the midst of its 45th annual Myrtle Beach golf trip and played their 10,000th hole in the area Thursday at Tidewater Golf Club. By the time their nine-day trip ends, the group will have enjoyed 388 golf package days in Myrtle Beach. The guys, who range in age from 62 to 78, have spent more than a year of their lives on Myrtle Beach golf trips.

Their 4 ½-decade love affair with Myrtle Beach began in 1970 when Richard Nixon was president, the average NFL player salary was $23,000, and there were barely enough Myrtle Beach golf courses to fill their itinerary.

The only problem that first year was the length of the trip – just four days. Bingeman and his suburban Philadelphia buddies vowed to expand their visit and made good on their word, staying for a week in 1971.

The rest is history.

“It’s is absolutely the highlight of the year,” Spangler said. “It’s like being back in college with the boys. Good food, good golf and we get along really well.”

The last 44 trips have been at least a week in duration and the only true threat they faced was Hurricane Hugo, but the storm proved no match for their determination to hit the golf course. After Hugo wreaked havoc along the South Carolina coast in 1989, they called every hotel on the beach looking for a place to stay, eventually finding a condo at Oyster Bay in Brunswick County, N.C.

After 45 years, they have played practically every course in the Myrtle Beach area and have made friends along the Grand Strand, starting with Gene Weldon, a long-time area head pro who has been both a friend and a local guide.

This year’s trip features a typically outstanding course lineup. They are playing The Witch, Rivers Edge, Grande Dunes, Barefoot, Dunes Club, Bald Head, Tidewater and Arcadian Shores.

“It’s a great week, a tradition for us,” Aiken said. “What’s not to like about Myrtle Beach? Wonderful courses, wonderful restaurants, it’s just a great place.”

Photo courtesy of MB Golf Holiday

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