Arnie Burdick, longtime media relations director for the Heritage PGA Tour golf tournament on Hilton Head Island, died Tuesday.
He was 92.
The Syracuse (N.Y.) Herald-Journal sports editor and columnist retired to Hilton Head Island with his wife, Mimi, in 1984. He was approached prior to the 1986 Heritage by former tournament director Mike Stevens, now the head of the Champions Tour, about taking a temporary job as the tournament’s media relations director.
After turning Stevens down several times, Burdick eventually took the job, becoming a fixture with the tournament.
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“I’ve had fun. And the more I think about it, it’s been good for me,” Burdick said prior to the 2012 RBC Heritage, his 27th. “You’ve got to keep your mind going. You’ve got to do something. You can’t just sit home and watch the tube.”
In honor of Burdick, the tournament awards the Arnie Burdick award to a media member who has excelled in their coverage of the tournament over time.
Burdick began his sportswriting career at Nottingham High School in Syracuse, N.Y. From there he went to Syracuse University, where he played lacrosse for coach Roy Simmons for the 1940-1942 seasons and was an honorable mention All-American attack in 1942, according to the Syracuse media guide.
While at Syracuse, Burdick worked for the sports information department, and after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he returned to the school in 1947 to become the sports information director, a post he held until 1956.
That year, Burdick became the sports editor at the Syracuse Herald-Journal. Burdick would go on to write roughly 300 columns a year until his retirement in 1984. Many of his columns featured a character he created named “The Old Scout.”
During his tenure there, Burdick won the ECAC-SIDA Media Award for outstanding coverage of eastern intercollegiate athletics and was president of the Football Writers Association of America.
Ironically, since Burdick made Hilton Head Island and its most famous golf tournament his home for nearly a third of his life, it might be surprising to learn that he didn’t even play golf.
“I used to play a lot of tennis, but my knee gave out and I can’t play anymore,” Burdick said in April. “I don’t play golf. I guess I’m one of the nuts that works for a golf tournament that doesn’t even play golf.”