The 10th annual FDNY 9-11 Memorial Golf Outing will be the last, and it’s one no fireman will want to miss.
To the untrained eye the oceanfront party held each May at Springmaid Resort is like so many in Myrtle Beach. Steak and chicken are charcoaled on the grill, a live band pumps out classic rock tunes, and adult libations are the beverage of choice.
But what has now become a May tradition is far from normal. Hundreds of people come from New York, the Carolinas, Connecticut and even as far away as Los Angeles to bask in the Myrtle Beach sun, play some of the nation’s best golf courses, and celebrate a bond that only firefighters can appreciate.
The FDNY Outing is a four-day event that attracts 800 people from 27 states to honor the memory of those who lost their lives on 9-11. The event offers a good time and great golf, but for the participants, it’s more than a four-day party.
Tournament Has Its Roots In Helping Fallen Brothers
What is now the FDNY 9-11 Memorial Golf Outing began in May of 1992 as The Alfred E. Ronaldson Spring Golf Classic to raise money to benefit families of fallen firefighters. Ronaldson lost his life in a fire in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1991 and the event was wildly popular in the New York area. When 9-11 occurred, everything changed.
Included among the nearly 3,000 people that died on 9-11 were 343 FDNY firefighters.
The aftermath of 9-11 was a painful time for FDNY, but they took solace in firefighters from across the nation coming to New York for funerals and memorial services. Men the FDNY were bound to only through the communal spirit of firefighters helped raise money to support families, provided comfort in a time of need, and helped the always resilient FDNY through its darkest hours.
From that assistance was born the idea of moving The Ronaldson and expanding it into a four-day event. In 2002, The Ronaldson, with the blessing of Alfred’s wife, Kim, moved to Myrtle Beach and changed its name to the FDNY 9-11 Memorial Golf Outing.
“People gather from all over the country and share the brotherhood,” said Kevin O’Brien, the event’s founder and organizer. “People who are here are firefighters that came to New York City after 9-11 and stood at our funerals and our memorial services and helped raise money for families. These are the best of the best in the United States. We are celebrating that spirit ... No matter where we are from, we are all the same.”
Set Your Own Agenda
The FDNY Outing is a celebration of the bond firefighters share, but the event doesn’t force participants to follow a rigid schedule. The primary attraction is golf, but the FDNY Outing lets participants choose how much they want to play. The first two days are practice rounds and 36 of Myrtle Beach’s best courses have offered special FDNY rates.
On the Tuesday of the tournament, competing players play for the The Ronaldson Cup. Four man teams, with a minimum of three firefighters on each, play in the 18-hole event in hopes of winning the cup.
On the event’s final day, a team, best-ball tournament is held, followed by the closing party.
The cost of the FDNY event depends on the level of involvement. There is a $110 participation fee that covers the outing’s multiple parties, including food and drink on the final night. Golf and accommodations are paid separately.
Participants can attend the event and play golf as a single. Spouses, girlfriends and friends are welcome to participate in the FDNY Outing as well.
Golf Capital of the World Welcomes Firefighters
Myrtle Beach has a well-earned reputation as the Golf Capital of the World and the quality and quantity of the area’s courses are on full display. Of the 36 courses that offer special FDNY rates, 27 earned at least four stars from Golf Digest and nine of them have been ranked among America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses by Golf Digest.
FDNY participants have the opportunity to play the best Myrtle Beach has to offer. From the Dunes Club, Caledonia and Kings North at Myrtle Beach National to the Fazio, Love and Dye courses at Barefoot Resort, the Myrtle Beach golf community welcomes the FDNY event.
Off the course, Myrtle Beach has nearly as many top 100 nightclubs as it has golf courses, more than 1,600 restaurants, and a good time for anyone that looks.
“It’s Myrtle Beach, people find stuff to do,” O’Brien said.
Whether it’s on the golf course or at the concluding party, the FDNY 9-11 Memorial Golf Outing is a good time. As the band plays and the steaks grill, stories are told and laughter fills the air just yards from the Atlantic Ocean on the final night.
Firefighters come together to celebrate a brotherhood, a tradition, a bond that most people never experience.
Each year as new friends are made, the people who attend the event never forget the tragic events that launched the FDNY 9-11 Memorial Golf Outing and the friends that were lost.
“It’s togetherness, the brothers come out in support of each other and to remember that dreadful day,” Long Island native John Serafino said of what brings people to Myrtle Beach for the event. “We will never forget it, but at least we have something good to look forward to every year to commemorate the lives that were given on that day.”
All proceeds from the FDNY 9-11 Memorial Golf Outing benefit the Thomas Elsasser Fund to support firefighter family members of “non-line” of duty deaths.