Todd Brown tried mini-tour life once several years ago and found it a poor fit for a man with a family.
When Brown had the idea this past September to start his own tour, he drew on those experiences, looking at other tours for cost and purse comparisons, but shunning the travel aspect. The Hurricane Pro Golf Tour, which starts in February, will compete on courses in Bluffton, on Hilton Head Island and in Savannah.
"So you can just come hunker down here," said Brown, vice president of business development for Brown Golf Management, his family's business. "If you pay the tour membership fee, you are a member of the Brown golf courses for the time that you're here, so you can really practice instead of travel, and you can improve. And that's kind of the goal, is to be able to move on to the next level."
Events will be held on Brown's four Bluffton courses -- Crescent Pointe, Eagle's Pointe, Island West and Pinecrest. Brown also recruited Old South Golf Links, Hilton Head Lakes, Bear Creek Country Club and Savannah Quarters. The season opens with a 54-hole event on Feb. 10 at Old South.
The tour's membership fee is $850 before Feb. 1 and $1,100 after. Entry to all 13 events is $7,000.
The schedule concludes with a 72-hole shootout on each of Brown's courses, with cash prizes to each round's top finisher and an estimated $10,000 payout to the winner.
Purses, based on a 50-player field, are expected to net winners $5,000. Winners of the two events with title sponsors -- the John Deere Open at Pinecrest on March 24 and the Jacobsen Turf Classic at Crescent Pointe the following week -- are guaranteed $5,000.
The tour will include women's and seniors divisions. Brown expects the tour to draw aspiring PGA Tour professionals who have tried other mini tours and young players out of college eager to test their skill.
"So far the response from the players has been great," he said. "They really like the concept where they can stay in one area and practice and play all the events without having to use hotel rooms and everything else ."
Gary Duren had a hole-in-one Jan. 5 on the 157-yard fourth hole at Colleton River's Nicklaus Course using a 7-iron. It is his 14th hole-in-one. Witnesses were Ken Duren, Kevin King and Dick Anderson.
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