Tournament gets OK to play on despite old law
In 1969, there was a law on the books in South Carolina that stated that no sporting event could be held on Sunday. By the time the Sea Pines officials were aware of the law it was too close to tournament time to have it repealed. So the local solicitor, Randolph "Buster" Murdaugh, who had a vacation home in Sea Pines and, more importantly, was influential in local and state politics, said he would "look the other way" and, after the first event, would have the law voided before the 1970 contest.
I was grounds chairman that first year. As a favor to Mr. Murdaugh, among other things, I gave him a golf cart to use during the week of the tournament. On the first day, I was in a golf cart with one of the PGA officials when we came upon Mr. Murdaugh spectating in his golf cart on the 10th fairway. The PGA official did not ask me any questions, but very brusquely told him, "You can't gallery in a golf cart." Somewhat taken back, Mr. Murdaugh replied, "If I can't have my golf cart, you won't have your golf tournament." He turned and headed in the direction of the clubhouse as I hastily explained the delicate situation to Mr. PGA, who then backtracked very quickly and asked me to smooth things out. Mr. Murdaugh, he said, could have his golf cart.
When I reached the clubhouse (sans my passenger), Mr. Murdaugh said, "Your riding companion needs to be somewhat more tactful when addressing strangers. But don't worry -- I'm going to allow the tournament to continue on Sunday." Since I was good friends with Mr. Murdaugh's son, I already knew it wouldn't be a problem. But I did feel an apology was in order, which I delivered on behalf of my rude passenger.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
We had the tournament and Mr. "Buster" kept his golf cart.
Hilton Head Island
Thunderstorm delay brings people together
Moving April 1, 1987, directly from Germany to Hilton Head Island, living right on Harbour Town Golf Links at No. 13's tee, the first big event was the Heritage golf tournament. We saw Larry Mize on the putting green, right after he won the Masters at Augusta.
Every year since, we enjoyed the spectacle around the golf tournament and the professionals, meeting and chatting with them casually and even learning about their private lives.
Having ringside seats around the 12th green, I once collected autographs on a Heritage poster. Almost every pro signed my poster. We talked with Payne Stewart, and walked with Greg Norman, Bernhard Langer and David Frost. Lanny Wadkins, waiting on the 13th tee, asked me if his little boy could pet my dog -- it was a relaxed atmosphere those days -- and a lot of the pros had their families with them here.
I think it was our first Heritage when a thunderstorm interrupted play and everybody had to run for shelter. David Frost was still standing at the tee, and I asked him to come to our house for shelter. He and his caddy came inside.
They were sitting in our living room at the fireplace, and we chatted for the duration of the storm. We have followed him around the course ever since, including in 1994 when he shot a 61 for the course record.
One night after play, I walked my dog in my neighborhood and there was Gary McCord with a camera team, hitting a ball out of the woods right onto the 12th green, copying Davis Love's spectacular shot earlier this day.
McCord's ball was landing on the green as good as Love's ball. He laughed and talked to me, explaining what he was doing. I wish my English had been better in those days, so I could have enjoyed even more conversations with all of them.
Forgetful golfer leaves clubs in rental car
I have witnessed many Heritage tournaments and directors, including Bud Bowie, Justin Jenkins, Bill Carson, Sonny Graham, Mike Stevenson and, of course, the current director over the years, but this is one of my favorite stories that can be told in mixed company.
I have sold cars on Hilton Head Island for more than 30 years. One year Bill Carson needed a new car for a professional golfer, also a personal friend. At the time I was driving a brand new Ford Thunderbird as a demonstrator and Bill said he needed the car for Ben Crenshaw. I told him he could use it.
A week later, Bill returned the car. Shortly after that I received a call, and the man said he was Ben Crenshaw. I said, "Yes, and I am President Jimmy Carter." I thought Bill Carson was playing a joke on me.
He said, "No, this really is Ben Crenshaw. I used your car last week." As I questioned him, he said he left his golf clubs in the trunk of the car. I told him I would call him back after I checked.
I checked the trunk, and it was true -- the clubs were there. I called him back and he said to give them to Bill Carson and he would get them. It was a great time. I've enjoyed every minute of the Heritage tournaments.
George S. Jones