RBC HERITAGE NOTEBOOK

Tartan-clad twins come from family steeped in golf heritage

newsroom@islandpacket.comApril 15, 2014 

Karsen and Kennedy Sturkey

STAFF PHOTO

Screeching bagpipes and the cannon blast had nothing on the heritage sewn into the little red sweaters of 7-year-old identical twins attending the opening ceremony of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing.

Karsen and Kennedy Sturkey of Greenville were photographed left and right with their tartan skirts, white knee socks and long, blond curls.

But it was the tournament badges of years ago that linked them into the heritage of the 46th tournament to be played this week in Sea Pines.

Their great-grandmother, Shirley Lott Trussell of Hilton Head Island, had the vintage cloth badges among her many mementos of a life surrounded by golf.

Having lived in Augusta, Ga., then on Hilton Head, Trussell has walls full of framed tickets and other items from The Masters, the Heritage, the U.S. Open and other golf hallmarks. For many years, she kept a Christmas tree up year-round and redecorated throughout the year with different golf items.

Trussell said she has attended most of the Heritage tournaments.

One of the Heritage badges the girls wore was given to Trussell by the late Bert Yancey.

Yancey tied for second in the first Heritage tournament, played on Thanksgiving weekend in 1969. He later taught golf on the island and traveled to make speeches as an advocate for the mentally ill.

The twins are here with their parents, Jefferson and Tatum Sturkey. Their mother remembers coming to the Heritage as a teenager. Trussell and her late husband, Jimmy Lott, stayed a full week for the Heritage until moving to the island in 1997.

The rare bits of heritage sewn into sweaters form a symbolic gift for Trussell's only great-grandchildren.

"They are very, very precious to me," Trussell said.

NO BOEING FLYOVER

Boeing will not be sponsoring an airplane flyover at the tournament this year.

It was a fan favorite during Boeing's first two years as presenting sponsor.

In 2012, the stealthy new Boeing 787 Dreamliner -- like those produced in Charleston -- glided low over the 18th fairway on Friday. Last year, a Boeing 747-8 Freighter did the honors.

But this year, no Dreamliners were available, according to Jack Jones, Boeing South Carolina vice president and general manager.

"Some are off being painted and others are not quite finished," he said. "We hope we can bring it back next year."

A company spokesman said the company is focusing on production and delivery at the Charleston plant.

SECURITY INCLUDES HOMELAND SECURITY

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is participating in tournament security this year, according to Toby McSwain, director of safety and security at Sea Pines.

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings -- the one-year anniversary of which was Tuesday -- the PGA Tour tightened security requirements for the 2014 season. Although not part of those requirements, Homeland Security is present at the Heritage in an effort to heighten security, McSwain said.

"We have a presence of federal agencies that have never been here in the past," McSwain said. "We're grateful to have them, their expertise and their resources at the tournament."

New security measures also include 13 security checkpoints along the course, a ban on large bags and "wanding" of all spectators by security personnel before admittance, McSwain said.

"People that come to the tournament this year will notice a lot more security presence than they ever have in the past," McSwain said, adding Homeland Security officers won't likely stand out because their uniform is khakis and a golf shirt.

SO LONG, GORD

This year's tournament is the last for Gordon Nixon as chief executive officer of the title sponsor, Royal Bank of Canada. Nixon will retire Aug. 1 from a job he took in 2001 at age 43.

"I will probably do a little board work, charitable work and maybe some things of great substance, but I will not be banking and I will not be running a company," Nixon said before marching in Monday's opening parade.

On Nixon's watch, Canada's largest bank sailed comparatively unscathed through the Great Recession and pulled out of a struggling retail banking business in America. The bank reached record earnings. Nixon received a standing ovation from shareholders at the annual meeting in February after RBC announced first-quarter profits of $2.09 billion.

Nixon also got the company deep into the world of golf as a way of enhancing business. It is in the third year as title sponsor of the Heritage. It sponsors the Canadian Open. And its team of touring pros, called "ambassadors," strengthen the Heritage field.

At the opening ceremony, defending Heritage champion Graeme McDowell, an RBC player, gave Nixon "a huge thank you" on behalf of all PGA Tour players "for everything you've done for the game of golf."

Asked whether he foresees RBC remaining bullish on golf and the Heritage, Nixon said, "Absolutely."

Nixon will be succeeded by David McKay, now RBC president. McKay, who has been with RBC more than 25 years, is not expected to attend this year's Heritage, according to Simon Fraser, chairman of the Heritage Classic Foundation, the tournament's general sponsor.

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