A municipal golf course in Mobile, Ala., introduced Burrell Williams to golf.
For $25, he could play all summer as a junior high student in the early 1960s. A PGA Tour stop at the course allowed him to rub shoulders with the likes of Arnold Palmer, and the kid was hooked.
Williams separated from the game during college and didn't pick it back up until a knee injury forced him out of construction. The Hilton Head Island resident retired at the start of May after 25 years as head professional at Dolphin Head Golf Club.
"The demands became more than I could handle," said Williams, who turns 66 this summer. "If you can't do it anymore, get out of the way and let the young people do it."
Matt Stewart, who was the head professional at Colleton River's Nicklaus Course, replaced Williams. The new retiree joked that he had 25 years worth of housework to finish and that he planned to start by staining his deck today.
Williams began at Dolphin Head as an assistant in 1986 and became a PGA member and head golf professional at the club in 1987. He was active in the local PGA chapter and the Hilton Head Island Junior Golf Association.
Williams earned a bachelor's degree in math from South Alabama and later served four years in the U.S. Air Force. Before Dolphin Head, Williams was an assistant pro at Morehead City Country Club in North Carolina. And before breaking into golf, Williams owned a construction business.
Williams and his wife, Nancy, live in Hilton Head Plantation. They plan to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary this fall with a trip to Italy.
"(Golf) is not going to be on the forefront," Williams said.
LOCALS JUST SHORT AT OYSTER REEF
A few area players were within striking distance this past weekend at the International Junior Golf Tour's KENTWOOL Socks Open but couldn't overtake the leaders.
In the Boys 15-19 division, Hilton Head Island's Ewen Ferguson shot a pair of 73s at Oyster Reef Golf Club to finish to shots behind winner Austin Morrison, a Charlotte native whose 69 on Day 1 set the pace. Bluffton's Zachary Boe and Charlie Spencer-White each finished at 148, four shots back.
In the Boys 14-and-under division, Hilton Head's Julien Paltrinieri lost in a playoff to Blake Smith, of Knoxville, Tenn. The boys finished tied at 150 for the 36-hole event.
In the girls division, Hilton Head's Emilie Paltrinierie finished seventh.
The tour's next stop is Friday and Saturday at Sanctuary Golf Club at Cat Island.
HURRICANE TOUR STOPS AT CRESCENT POINTE
The Hurricane Junior Golf Tour returns to Bluffton for the second time this season to host the HJ Glove Junior Open at Crescent Pointe Golf Club.
The tournament will be held May 19-20 and awards coveted American Junior Golf Association performance stars. Winners in the Boys 15-18 and Girls 15-18 divisions will receive four AJGA stars. Also at stake will be S.C. Junior Golf Association Heritage points and Tar Heel Youth Golf Association (TYGA) points.
The tournament is a 36-hole stroke play event. Four age divisions will compete: Boys 15-18, Boys 11-14, Girls 15-18 and Girls 11-14. Winners in each division will receive an automatic bid into the 2012 Tour Championship, and top-10 finishers earn points towards year-end honors.
Any player who has not played in a HJGT tournament before can register for their first tournament for only $99.
HHI STUDENT SIGNS WITH ROLLINS
Junior Players Golf Academy student Momo Sakuragi has signed to play for the Rollins College women's golf team.
Sakuragi chose the school in Winter Park, Fla., based on its academics and the quality of the golf program.
"I know having worked with Momo over the past four years how special and talented she is, and I know her work ethic will be the spark Rollins needs to take them to the next level," JPGA teaching professional Stephen Thomson said.
Sakuragi attended Hilton Head Prep in the morning and worked on her golf during the afternoons. She worked out four times per week.
"We couldn't be happier for such a nice young lady who has grown up with us," JPGA lead instructor Chris Tremblay said.
RICKS, WONG WIN AT OLDFIELD
Doyle Ricks and amateur Jeff Wong won the Hilton Head Island PGA Chapter's Pro-Scratch tournament at Oldfield Golf Club. They combined for an 8-under-par 64 in the better ball format, highlighted by an eagle on the drivable par-44 12th.
Colleton River's Matt Lucchesi and amateur Kevin King and Chechessee Creek Club's Michael Bleakley and amateur Rob Simmons tied for second at 7 under.