FLORENCE, S.C. – Setup work for the World Horseshoe Pitching Championship is underway at the Florence Center, and members of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association said it is a precise process.
They are measuring and marking courts and foul lines, mixing clay and preparing to train scorekeepers on the ins and outs of electronic scoring.
Russell Allen is a Pee Dee local who will play in the tournament and is helping during setup this week.
“I’m amazed at their process,” Allen said. “I’ve never had to set one up. This is quite a thing to go through – a lot of work involved, a lot of man hours you’ve got to put in this. You’ve got to have some knowledge. I thought it would be no big deal, but all this stuff is really technical.”
The arena will have 34 courts, and the ballroom will have 18 courts. There will be electronic score charts monitored by scorekeepers, and two 42 inch screen TVs with stats. Rob Hagman, fourth vice president of the NHPA, said there will also be a store that carries “everything horseshoe.”
“The setup process has been wonderful here,” Hagman said. “Florence has supplied us with everything we’ve asked for so for and has met all our needs. They’ve provided plenty of workers for us, and it’s been going actually ahead of schedule.”
Hagman said the stadium seating at the Florence Center will allow onlookers to view the scoreboards, but he also recommends using binoculars. There is no charge for spectators to come to the tournament. Concessions will be for sale.
Allen said that after playing in two world tournaments hosted in Louisiana and Alabama, he is excited to play in one on his home turf.
“When I heard it was coming into here, I was ecstatic,” Allen said. “I knew it was going to bring a lot of people in, a lot of families and good revenue for the town.”
More than 1,000 people representing 47 states and four countries will compete in the tournament, which starts Monday and concludes on July 21.
Even after the tournament begins, the careful attention to detail will continue, Allen said.
For example, after each game, players will turn the clay in the pits with a shovel. Every morning before the first horseshoe is thrown, officials will ensure that courts and pits remain in their proper places. The force of horseshoes repeatedly making contact with the clay pits could jostle the setup.