South Carolina Pickleball League Hits the Road

The Grand Strand of South Carolina has historically been recognized as a popular tourist and retirement destination because of its warm Gulf Stream waters, beautiful soft sandy beaches, abundant golf courses and numerous attractions and activities.  But most recently, with the formation of the Horry County Pickleball League (HCPL), pickleball is quickly becoming another activity the Grand Strand is being recognized for.

The HCPL is the brainchild of two players from the Myrtle Beach Pickleball Club, Joe Grummel, Horry County USAPA Ambassador and Frank Cooper.  In addition, three players from the North Myrtle Beach Pickleball Association, Darry Del Corro, Ron Pluymers, and Rick Harpster, USAPA Ambassador, assisted with the ultimate design of the league, the structure of play, rules, player recruitment, and securing venue participation.

In early January, two hundred and twenty players, including substitutes, from both North and South Carolina, kicked off the first week of play.  The initial season of play is scheduled to continue for the following seven weeks with a league party to be held at the conclusion of play for the presentation of awards.  Six venues across Horry County have agreed to allow their 18 public indoor courts to be used for league play at no cost to the league.  The cost to the players is very nominal ranging from $1.00 to $3.00 per player per day.

The venues that have agreed to participate are: South Strand Recreation Center, YMCA, Pepper Geddings Recreation Center, Carolina Forest Recreation Center, North Strand Recreation Center and the J. Bryan Floyd Community Center. Each of these facilities are designating specific days and times for league play.  A total of 22 hours of court time have been reserved for league play by the facilities.

The arrangement has proven to be very beneficial for the facilities as well as for the league.  Each facility is guaranteed a certain level of player attendance on the days of league play resulting in a more stable revenue source over open play. The league officers are hopeful that in the future, three additional indoor facilities in Horry County with eleven additional courts can be brought into the mix allowing league participation to grow to well over 300 players on almost 30 courts.

League play is structured based upon skill level divisions.  Players that signed up for the league were selected through a draft procedure by the various team captains.  24 players are in the 2.5 division, 72 players are in the 3.0 division, 72 players are in the 3.5 division and 32 players are in the 4.0+ division.  Each skill level is further divided into teams with a captain designated for each team.  Within the 2.5 division, there are three teams, 3.0 has nine teams, 3.5 has nine teams and 4.0 + has four teams.  Each team within a skill level division plays a fixed number of games to 11 points, win by one, each day of play.  The 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5 division teams play 21 games in two hours, and the 4.0+ teams play 36 games in three hours. After three weeks of play, the league structure has proven to be very popular with the players as they are guaranteed a certain number of games to play which is very important to those players that are traveling significant distances to participate in the league.

Each season the league officers plan to recruit new players to the game, through the 2.5 skill level division, with the goal that previous 2.5 players will move up.  In addition, they are also looking into extending the league to include a wheel chair division and to include a youth program.

The Grand Strand has historically been recognized as a hot tourist attraction.  The phenomenal growth of the sport of pickleball along the Grand Strand and the creation of programs such as the HCPL is guaranteed to make the Grand Strand a premier destination for pickleball on the South East Coast.

If you would like more information on the HCPL, please contact Joe Grummel at jlgrummel@gmail.com or visit the website at https://horrycountypickleballleague.wordpress.com/

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