BMW Pro-Am Brings Celebrities to the Upstate

Twenty-seven stars will descend on the Upstate next week as the 2014 BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation gets underway on Thursday, May 15 and runs through Sunday, May 18. Part of the Tour (a developmental tour for the PGA Tour) the golf tournament takes place at three of the Upstate's best courses, Thornblade Club in Greer, The Reserve at Lake Keowee, and Green Valley Country Club in Greenville.

First-time participants include Jonathan Banks ("Breaking Bad"), Golf Channel broadcaster Lisa Cornwell, Debbe Dunning ("Home Improvement"), actor/comedian Bill Engvall, Allstate spokesman and actor Dennis Haysbert ("24"), actor Richard Karn ("Home Improvement"), Jordan Masterson ("Last Man Standing"), two-time Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon, sportscaster and model Win McMurry, Frankie Muniz ("Malcom in the Middle"), and Rob Riggle ("The Hangover").

Returning celebrities include, hockey great Wayne Gretzky, his wife Janet Jones-Gretzky and their son Ty Gretzky, musician Steve Azar, Andy Buckley ("The Office"), Greg Ellis ("24"), Oliver Hudson ("Nashville"), Danny Masterson ("Men at Work"), John O'Hurley ("Seinfield"), Rob Morrow ("Northern Exposure,"), Michael Pena ("Shooter"), Paula Trickey ("The O.C."), Gary Valentine ("Here Comes the Boom"), Richard Schiff ("The West Wing"), and Patrick Warburton ("Rules of Engagement").

The featured celebrity groups will pair two pro-celebrity teams together and will include the following pairs: comedian duo O'Hurley and Engvall, Tool Time duo Karn and Dunning from "Home Improvement" and actor-brother pairing Danny and Jordan Masterson.

The action will take place at all three courses for the first three days of the tournament with one-third of the field playing at each course in the preliminarily rounds. The final round will be played on Sunday, May 18 at Thornblade Club. Prices start at $10 for a one-day ticket at each of the courses.

In all, 25 local charities are set to benefit from the 2014 BMW Pro-Am. Last year, over $730,000 was raise, and since 2001, the tournament has raised $9.98 million for 150+ charities, putting the tournament on the road to raising over $10 million after the 2014 tournament.

The tournament also has a notable impact on the Upstate economy. In 2013, Clemson University's International Institute of Tourism Research and Development conducted a study of the economic impacts of expenditures related to tournament operations and found that the 2013 tournament generated total direct spending of $4.7 million, supported 139 jobs, generated net local government revenues of more than $540,000 and net state government revenues of more than $860,000, yielding a total economic impact of over $6.7 million.

In addition to the golf tournament, a number of other special events are slated to take place as part of this year's BMW Pro-Am, including a "Celebrity Walk of Fame" on Main Street in Downtown Greenville on Thursday, May 15 from 6:45-7:45 p.m. Participants in this year's tournament will walk the red carpet as they enter an event at the Courtyard Greenville Downtown. Actor and comedian Gary Valentine will emcee the event.

On Friday, The Bacon Brothers, featuring well-known actor Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael (an award-winning composer for film and television) will headline a special concert at the Peace Center Amphitheater. Ticket prices aren't cheap at $250, but with that price come delicious food provided by Larkin's on the River, drinks in the Ketel One Lounge, and surprise appearances by some of the tournament's celebrities. Tickets to the concert can be purchased by calling 864-297-1660.

Christopher George is a freelance writer and multimedia professional from Spartanburg. He is a former editor and publisher of the Spartanburg Spark, and his writing and video work has appeared in numerous online and print publications including Mountain Xpress in Asheville, NC and in titles by the Hub City Writers Project.