If Bob Collar needed any reassurance that the Lowcountry Golf Hall of Fame had settled in the right spot, it might have come last week during an afternoon of ladder climbing as he worked to get the place ready to show.
Though the museum wasn’t officially open for business, the door was ajar.
“There must have been 10 couples come in that day, just walked in the door,” the hall’s executive director recalled. “How are you, make yourself at home, look around. I’m up on the ladder. Then someone will ask, ‘Is this the guy...?’
“Down off the ladder — ‘Yep, that’s Charles Fraser ...’ That’s OK. I love it.”
The Hall of Fame, showcasing its nine members and various artifacts from five decades of golf played on South Carolina’s southern tip, officially throws open its doors Wednesday night with a grand opening at the Shops at Sea Pines.
Located adjacent to the Legacy of Golf gallery on the plaza’s ground floor, the public reception begins with a formal ribbon-cutting at 5:30 p.m. Hilton Head Island Mayor David Bennett is scheduled to attend, along with the shrine’s five living inductees and various golf dignitaries and from the area.
“I’ve wracked my brain to think of everybody,” said Collar, noting he’s received confirmations from about 80 people to attend.
Less than three years since its launch, the shrine occupies a modest space in the plaza. It’s set up like a reading room, with a leather sofa and chairs flanking a coffee table. The back wall showcases the hall’s nine members, with room to add the two who will be voted in as the Class of 2017.
“It’s a nice, rich, warm feeling,” Collar said. “It’s a start.”
To the right, a wall unit displays memorabilia from the inductees — Jim Ferree’s Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame plaque, a caddie bib from one of Kevin King’s Heritage appearances, photos of the late Tim Moss on the set of “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”
The other wall was still a work in progress as opening approached. Collar still was arranging posters and flags from other tournaments that have come and left the area — the 2003 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at Long Cove Club, the Amoco Centel Seniors Championship at Hilton Head National, the 1990 Wendy’s Three-Tour Challenge at Colleton River Plantation.
A friend drops by with frames under his arm. Among them is the poster from the LPGA’s final stop at Moss Creek Plantation, which ended its 10-year run in 1985. Time to rearrange.
There’s also something from Collar’s personal collection — a framed photo of Arnold Palmer accepting the trophy from the very first Heritage Classic, signed by The King himself.
“That’s an original,” Collar said. “There’s only seven of those in the world, and there won’t be any more.”
Collar estimated he spent two months searching for the proper space — “Beaufort, Bluffton and here,” he said. “Every nook and cranny, looking for space. I talked to what must have been 30 landlords.”
In the end, the road kept leading back to Sea Pines. It’s where golf made its first splash in the Lowcountry. Harbour Town is nearby, home of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. And the estimated 260,000 people that browse the Shops at Sea Pines are highly golf-savvy.
“I’ve already talked with people from Chicago, Michigan, California, Seattle,” Collar said. “So it’s created interest in the people that walk by. ... This just turned out to be the right place, financially and historically.”