RBC Heritage

David Lauderdale: Dr. Carswell never misses a Heritage pro-am

In 1969, Dr. Nelson Carswell Jr. of Dublin, Ga., stood on the 10th tee at Harbour Town Golf Links and yanked his drive into the lagoon.

On Wednesday, he stood on the same tee box and used his good arm to slap a drive to the right. He's had two operations recently on his left shoulder and can't play golf for a year. But his doctor let him tee off to keep his Heritage streak alive. Carswell has played in every Heritage pro-am. He believes he's the only person to do that.

In the original event, Carswell took a drop by the lagoon, hit it to the green and knocked in a long putt for par.

In the 43rd pro-am on Wednesday, he picked up his ceremonial "drive" and gave way to his oldest grandson, Blair Mitchell, who finished the round.

The Heritage has always been a family affair for the 80-year-old pediatrician, who still sees patients two days a week. His wife, Betty Ann, and three of their five children are here for the week, along with grandchildren and many friends. That's why the man they call "Golfdaddy" loves to come to the Heritage.

"I know that heaven is so much more beautiful than we can imagine," he said as he walked along the 10th fairway. "But to me, this is as close as it gets. I wish I could bring everybody and let them see how much fun it is."

He's been playing on Hilton Head since he bought a condominium on Lighthouse Road in the mid-1960s from the late Stewart Dunbar. Carswell used to fly his plane to Hilton Head.

"I would buzz the clubhouse, and they would send someone to pick me up at the airport," Carswell said.

Things have changed, but he wouldn't take back a minute, or nickel, spent on his Heritage weeks.

"It's hard to put it in words," he said. "I'll be back if they tee it up next year."


U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham hit a long, screaming drive right down the middle on the first hole in Wednesday's Heritage pro-am, then turned to the gallery and said, "Your tax dollars at work."

When his playing partner, U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, had the better drive on the ninth hole, Graham said, "You can tell who's working."

The light banter and handshaking with the gallery was constant in a pairing that also included freshman U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican from Spartanburg.

"My golf game is very much like politics," Graham said. "It changes."

Clyburn, who usually brings his family down for the week, has played in at least 20 Heritage pro-ams.

When the high-powered group had to hold up on the tee box for an unexpected person to clear the fairway ahead, Graham joked, "It's an immigration officer."

Their PGA Tour playing partner, Arjun Atwal, responded, "No wonder I'm not playing well."