By now, John Patterson is accustomed to some good-natured ribbing from fellow Lowcountry golfers who want to end his reign over the Hilton Head Open. But there’s a new voice in the mix this year — his son.
“He says he’s going to beat up on me this weekend,” the elder Patterson said with a chuckle.
That would take some doing, considering Patterson will tee it up Saturday at Moss Creek as the Open’s three-time defending champion. But if there’s one thing that can keep his mind off the possibility of a four-peat, it’s having J.D. in the field.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Patterson, Chechessee Creek Club’s director of membership and sales.
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“J.D. and I have played hundreds of rounds together since he started playing the game. But this will be our first competitive atmosphere for us to enjoy together. I’m rooting for him and excited to see what he does with the game.”
J.D. Patterson, 15, just started his sophomore year at Hilton Head Christian, where he was part of last year’s SCISA Class 2A runners-up. He’ll tee off Saturday two groups behind his dad, who will be anxious to greet him on the 18th green at day’s end.
“I can’t wait to see what he’s able to do out there,” Patterson said. “It’ll be a great distraction for me.”
Certainly Patterson’s rivals hope something breaks his spell on the event. No matter the venue, his game seems to peak in mid-August.
In 2013, he beat David Rogers by two at Colleton River Plantation’s Nicklaus course. Then he won a rain-shortened edition at Bear Creek by one over Adam Lescalleet. Last year wasn’t even close — an eight-shot romp over Seth Sweet at Port Royal’s Robbers Row.
“I think it’s just that I’m comfortable at home,” said Patterson, who travels to a handful of amateur events during the summer, including Pine Valley’s prestigious Crump Cup.
“There are a lot of places we play that I’m very familiar with. That always helps. Familiar faces, too — you know who you’re playing with, and get a chance to catch up with guys you haven’t seen much through the year.”
ENHANCEMENTS ON TAP
Two prominent area clubs have recently announced plans to upgrade their courses in coming months.
Berkeley Hall is set to undertake a $4.3 million project to install a state-of-the-art drainage system beneath both of its Tom Fazio designs, similar to those in operation at such prominent locales as Augusta National, East Lake and Seminole.
The project will take an estimated 70 weeks to complete, as plans call for the club to close just one hole at a time.
Meanwhile, Long Cove Club has approved a restoration plan for next summer with the intent of returning the esteemed Pete Dye design to its original dimensions.
The course will close in May 2017 to restore bunkers to their original design, upgrade drainage, replace multiple bulkheads and all cartpaths. The course then will be completely regrassed, with a target reopening in October 2017.
Hilton Head Island’s Karen Ferree and Terri Allemang are among eight golfers set to defend Lowcountry honors at this weekend’s WSCGA Cross State Shootout at Columbia Country Club.
The Lowcountry team won last year’s inaugural title over teams from the Midlands and Upstate. The event features two-person teams in four-ball match play, with points given for results on the front nine, back nine and overall match.
▪ Bluffton’s Kayla Kozak used closing rounds of 70-74 to finish tied for 17th at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championship in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Kozak’s total of 12-over-par 300 left her five shots out of a top-10 finish.
▪ Hilton Head Island’s Travis Mancill and Danny Azallion each finished with a share of 19th at the Beth Daniel Junior Azalea in Charleston. Inman’s Jacob Bridgeman won a playoff for the title.
ACES & AGE-BEATERS
▪ Wayne Burrer recorded a hole-in-one Aug. 8 at the 12th hole of Argent Lakes Golf Club, watching his 7-iron attempt find the cup from 123 yards away. Witnesses were Scott Elmore, John McTague and Lee Bowen.
▪ Ned Wood notched a hole-in-one Tuesday at the 16th hole at Argent Lakes, using a pitching wedge to hole out from 107 yards. Witnesses were Mike Dumont, Jim Gray and Grant Horn.