Stars shine in dresses to kick off celebrity golf tournament

September 3, 2010 

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Turner Sports commentator Jim Huber, four-time World One-Club Champion Thad Daber and former Cincinnati Reds infielder Doug Flynn watch as Paul Denning tees off on nine Friday morning during the first day of the 2010 Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Tournament at Palmetto Hall. Golfers willing to donate five dollars and temporarily don a dress could tee off from the lady's tee for a 75 yard advantage.

SARAH WELLIVER/THE ISLAND PACKET

  • What: Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Tournament When/Where: 9 a.m. shotgun start Saturday at Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes and Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Cost: $5 donation, which goes to children's charities Details: www.hhcelebritygolf.com

Friday was a dream come true for Hilton Head Island resident and Cincinnati Bengals fan Jerry Bowman.

Standing next to him on the 10th green at Arthur Hills Golf Course at Palmetto Hall was record-breaking former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson.

Bowman's daughter taught Anderson's daughter dance in Covington, Ky., in the 1980s, but the two had never met.

"Small world," Anderson said with a chuckle.

They were paired Friday for Locals Day, teeing off the weekend-long Hilton Head Island Celebrity Golf Tournament.

"I never thought I'd get lucky enough to be paired with him," Bowman said of Anderson. "It's fantastic. I grew up in Cincinnati and played football all my life and followed his career for years and years and years."

Friday's event was a new addition to the tournament, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Bowman and other individuals could play alongside celebrities at a special rate before the weekend rounds. Previously, the celebrity tournament spanned three days and included only corporate-sponsor participants.

"It's an opportunity to get local community support behind the event," said tournament producer Carol Kavanaugh.

Declines in corporate sponsorship fueled by the recession forced tournament organizers to retool the event that has become a local Labor Day staple on Hilton Head.

Earlier this year, it was not clear whether the tournament would be around for its anniversary. But organizers incorporated new events and customized marketing packages for sponsors in a bid to revive the tournament, Kavanaugh said.

The tournament has distributed more than $3.1 million to Beaufort County charities that help disadvantaged children.

Anderson retired to Palmetto Hall in January after 17 years of coaching -- trading gridiron for nine iron. He said he and his family had been vacationing on the island since 1975 and made the decision years ago to retire on Hilton Head.

He spent the past three years with the Pittsburgh Steelers helping quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He has twice been among the 15 finalists for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had the NFL's best quarterback rating four times -- only Sammy Baugh and Steve Young have more -- and was a named to the Pro Bowl four times.

"What they do for the Lowcountry here is pretty special, and I'm excited to be a part of it," Anderson said of the tournament.

Behind him on the ninth hole, San Francisco 49ers defensive star-turned-actor Dwight Hicks playfully pranced around in a blue checkered, daisy-print dress. For $5, players could wear a dress and play from the women's tee.

Hicks intercepted a pass from Anderson in Super Bowl XVI.

"All right ladies, let's rip it!" Hicks said, changing from soprano to baritone.

Hicks said friend and fellow celebrity player Thad Daber, World One-Club Champion, talked him into playing in the tournament for the first time.

"All he had to say was I get to wear a dress and hit from the ladies' tee," he joked, while tournament organizer Kim Smith took photos.

"I think it's fabulous. They're good sports and, of course, it all goes to charity," said Smith, a board member of Providence Children's Center, one of the tournament's beneficiaries.

"This tournament plays a huge part for a lot of area charities in sustaining operating costs throughout the year," she said.

Proceeds from the tournament allow the children's center to buy school supplies and snacks for kids and pay for field trips and teacher training.

"It really draws the community together in fellowship for a good cause," she said.

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