Two brothers who have been making golf trips to Myrtle Beach for many years are having a great time on the Grand Strand this week, though it's with a touch of sadness. They know this will be their last golf trip ever.
Ken and Randy Doerr have been making these golf outings each fall for 18 years. But in January, Ken, 61, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
"They believe it's been in my system for awhile before that, too, for at least a year or so. It's taken its toll," Ken said during a break in their golf game Thursday at the Crow Creek course in Calabash, NC.
The disease causes a loss in muscle strength and coordination and there is no cure.
After Ken's diagnosis, the brothers thought they wouldn't make it to Myrtle Beach this year or ever again.
But then, Mark Rosenberg, the local golf agent who always books their trip, heard about Ken's illness and put together a special package for them.
Free golf, free hotel and free meals. The brothers are having a blast.
"It's been a fabulous week. I couldn't ask for anything better," Ken said.
The game is different for them this week. Randy tees off at every hole. When they get within a few yards of the cup, both of them chip and putt from there. But Ken suffers from constant fatigue and just walking up to shoot a putt or driving the golf cart is a chore.
Still, the brothers and their spouses are enjoying the trip and trying not to think too much about the future.
"My wife, Joy, and I have pretty much decided that we're just going to make sure that we don't waste a good today worrying about a bad tomorrow," Ken said.
After all their other golf trips to Myrtle Beach, the brothers say this may be their best one yet, though it is bittersweet.
"We get a little melancholy now and then," Randy, 63, said. "But we try to fire up, because we're enjoying it and making the best out of it."
The Doerrs say they're not much for photography. They say they've mostly taken pictures of alligators on past golf outings. They're taking more pictures of each other this time to chronicle their last trip.
But the brothers say the golf is fun, the accommodations are great. And as for what's next in life, Ken said there's actually a certain comfort in knowing.
"When you become accustomed to your fate and you know what it is, you just move on," he said.