The Father-Son Team Classic isn’t just a golf tournament to the people who play in the event, and the winner of this year’s Father of the Year Award, isn’t just an outstanding parent.
The Executive Committee of Family Golf Week, which includes the Father-Son and Parent-Child team classics, will honor Robert Harper, the event’s founder, as its Father of the Year at the 2018 tournament.
There would be no Father-Son Team Classic if not for Harper, who launched the event in 1994 when he was in charge of operations at Wild Wing. What began as an effort to fill Wild Wing’s tee sheet – the property was home to four courses at the time – quickly grew into something much larger.
The event tripled in size its first three years and by its 10th anniversary was attracting 800+ teams.
“By the time we got to the second year and stories were coming in about the tournament helping people restore relationships, I knew we were on to something special,” said Harper.
He concluded his run as Family Golf Week’s front man in 2017, retiring to accept a role as a pastor at Knightsville United Methodist Church in Summerville, S.C., but he is returning this year as a player.
“I’m going to play with my daughter, Maggie,” Harper said. “She has worked the tournament since she was 5 years old. It is going to be fun being on the other side of the event where I don’t have to worry about it so much.”
“Honoring Robert as our Father of the Year was a no-brainer,” said Mike Buccerone, president of East Coast Golf Events, the company that runs the tournament. “First and foremost, he is an outstanding man and father – we can’t wait for him to experience the event with Maggie – but he is also the father of this event and has been a surrogate for so many of us in the golf business.”
More than 200 PGA professionals, 52 of whom went on to be head pros or directors of golf, worked for Harper during a career that included stops at the PGA Tour, Burroughs & Chapin Golf Management and Turning Stone Resort, in addition to Wild Wing.
While Harper has found a higher calling, he isn’t entirely finished with golf. He recently ran a charity tournament for his church, allowing parishioners the chance to play with the “Pastor Pro,” and he is looking forward to his return to Myrtle Beach for Family Golf Week.
“I’ll be able to take a deep breath and say, ‘If you have a complaint go see Mike Buccerone,’” Harper said with a laugh. “If you are excited and enjoyed the event, I can tell you I had a little bit to do with it!”
The 21st annual Father-Son Team Classic and the Parent-Child Team Classic will be played July 18-21 on eight of Myrtle Beach’s best courses, including TPC Myrtle Beach, Rivers Edge and the Love Course at Barefoot Resort, all layouts that have been ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.
Players can register for the tournament at FamilyGolfWeek.com. Entry fee is $995 per team and includes three rounds of golf, daily lunch, pre- and post-event functions, and a gift bag valued at $500. Included among the gift bag items are a $150 tournament gift card that can be used at host courses for food, merchandise and golf, a logo’d polo shirt, a dozen Srixon golf balls and more.