Myrtle Beach golf tourney ZEROs in on prostate cancer

- Derrick Bracey, for Weekly SurgeAugust 21, 2013 

Nothing says beating cancer like swinging a club at a little ball. This weekend celebrities will attack the greens of the Grande Dunes Resort Course and Marina Inn with their drivers in hand to battle against prostate cancer at The Know Your Score Golf Tournament and Gala. The tournament continues a six-year tradition of raising money for the nonprofit organization ZERO - The End of Prostate Cancer.

The slogan “Know Your Score” is a reference to encourage men to take the PSA blood test and know what their PSA levels are. These levels can be determinates in whether or not you’re at risk of developing prostate cancer.

The list of celebrities attending the tournament - which is Friday and Saturday - is dominated by retired sports greats:

Basketball Hall of Famers Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Artis “A-Train” Gilmore and Sam Jones

•  Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan

•  Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl champion George Rogers

•  Super Bowl winners Ed “Too Tall” Jones (Dallas Cowboys) and Richard Dent (Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers)

•  Super Bowl contenders Thurman Thomas and Cornelius Bennett (Buffalo Bills)

•  NBA coaching legend Lenny Wilkens

•  Harlem Globetrotters’ Meadowlark Lemon

•  Basketball Hall of Famer and WNBA legend Nancy "Lady Magic" Lieberman

•  Former NBA players Gus Williams, John Starks, Charles Oakley, Junior Bridgeman, Kevin Grevey, Brevin Knight and Al Wood

•  Women’s world billiards champion Ewa Mataya Laurance

•  Heavyweight Boxing Champion James “Bonecrusher” Smith

•  Heavyweight Boxer Gerry Cooney

•  Hall of Fame horse racing jockey Chris McCarron

Golf long driver Shane Ferguson

•  Sports broadcaster Ann Liquori

•  NFL player-turned -actor Ed Marinaro

•  Sportscaster John Patrick

Some of these celebrities are new to the event but many of them are returning from previous years. More than 30 celebrities will be in attendance and lead 30 amateur teams in the tournament.

“We’re excited that so many sports and entertainment celebrities are coming together for the sixth year in a row to fight this disease that affects so many men and their families,” Jamie Bearse, CEO of ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer said in a press release. “Know Your Score has become a tradition in Myrtle Beach, building awareness of prostate cancer and bringing us closer to the cure.”

A major force behind this tournament for the last six years is the Grand Strand power-couple of Mitch Laurance and Ewa Mataya Laurance. Ewa is a world billiards champion, and her husband Mitch is an actor, producer and ESPN billiards commentator. “To have ZERO be a part of this event is huge,” says Ewa Laurance. “They’re a great national organization and with Dr. J returning for a second year, this should be a great event.”

Mitch Laurance was diagnosed with prostate cancer 11 years ago, when he was 52-years-old. “It was a stunning piece of news. I thought I had a urinary tract infection,” he says. “They did a PSA test and saw something strange. After a biopsy showed it was cancer, I had prostatectomy (surgery to remove all or part of the prostate gland).”

“No news can potentially be worse than bad news,” adds Ewa Laurance. “That bad news actually saved Mitchell’s life. That’s why it’s so important to us to get the message out there. When it’s time, every man should go get tested.”

“I was lucky to get a preliminary warning and be able to take care of it early,” Mitch Laurance says. “The treatment of surgery was a mutual decision between my wife and me. We went over the potential side effects and we agreed I should just do it. My life is totally normal now.”

Six years ago, because of his involvement in the Grand Strand’s golf community and his status as a cancer survivor, Laurance was approached about getting involved with the inaugural Know Your Score golf tournament. That tournament partnered with ZERO, and now Laurance is the vice-chairman on the ZERO board of directors. The event continues to bring in more celebrities and raise more funds every year.

The gala begins with a cocktail hour at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Dinner will be accompanied by the golf-centric music of Billy Mac and a standup performance by comedian Henry Cho. Mitch Laurance will serve as master of ceremonies for the gala and co-host the tournament with retired NBA All-Star Gus Williams. Williams is also a part-time resident of the Grand Strand.

On Saturday, The tournament will kick off at 10:30 a.m. with a shotgun start. Unfortunately, spectators aren’t allowed at the tournament. You have to buy-in to participate. That is, if there’s any spaces left. Entries were going for $3,000 for a foursome and a table of eight at the gala or $2,500 for a foursome and a table of four. If you’re not a golfer or the entries are full, you may be able to get a ticket for a table of eight at the gala for $1,500. All the proceeds go directly to fighting prostate cancer.

“As men we are notoriously lax concerning our own health, usually because we’re worried they’ll find something,” says Mitch Laurance. “We want to make getting tested something that’s not so scary, not so life or death. We want to help men get over the stigma attached to prostate cancer. This starts by women and men and families understanding the disease, because this disease affects everyone.”

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