Celebrity Golf Celebrates 30 Years
Author: Hilary Kraus
Happy 30th birthday Hilton Head Celebrity Golf Tournament. Congratulations on being a signature event on the island since 1979, associating yourself with athletes and entertainers from Johnny Bench to Johnny Unitas, Pat Boone to Paul Williams.
You have raised more than $3 million through donations and fundraisers, which has helped various children’s organizations throughout the Lowcountry.
As you celebrate the big 3-0 on Labor Day weekend (Sept. 3-5), organizers decided it was time to do some puttering around with your schedule, format and entry cost. The celebrity list also has been tweaked to feature more regional personalities, which saves on airfare expenses, organizers said.
“The challenge is to adapt the tournament to the fast-changing economy,” said Kim Capin, tournament co-producer.
Unlike past years, where amateur golfers teamed with different celebrities for three days, the groups will pair up on Saturday and Sunday.
Friday’s activity on Sept. 3 has been changed to a community event where locals and out-of-town guests have the chance to play Arthur Hills Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes. The cost is $195 per player and includes a continental breakfast and lunch on the course, a souvenir golf shirt and one ticket to the Trustees’ Oceanside Party at the Westin Resort & Spa that night.
“This makes it an affordable way to participate in the weekend,” Capin said. “Our goal is to get the local community to embrace the tournament and get involved.”
Celebrities and amateurs will tee it up at the Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Hall on Sept. 4 and Harbour Town Golf Links at the Sea Pines Resort on Sept. 5. The cost, which also includes food on the courses, parties and gifts, is $2,250 per player.
An inclusive package for four golfers also is available for $12,500. The package includes four rooms for three nights at the Westin. As recently as last year, the same package cost $16,000.
The tournament was able to lower the cost by tailoring sponsorship packages based on individual marketing needs, according to Carol Kavanaugh, tournament co-producer.
Organizers also are scrapping the scramble format in favor of a shamble, which combines elements of a scramble with elements of stroke play.
In a scramble, golfers play the best ball hit by a team member from the tee to into the hole. In shamble play, after the best tee shot is decided, golfers play their own shots into the hole.
The shamble will be played with handicaps given at 70 percent, which increases the chances for lesser-skilled players to contribute more to the team score.
Comedian Scott Record with Kraft Foods Team
While the prices and format are being modified, the weekend still will have the feel of an annual reunion as many of the same personalities have been making Hilton Head their Labor Day destination spot for years.
Among the regulars returning are Paul Williams, Academy and Grammy award-winning songwriter; Bobby Cremins, men’s college basketball coach; Henry Cho, comedian; Mark Malone and Sterling Sharpe, former NFL standouts and broadcasters; Branford Marsalis, jazz musician; Doug Flynn, former Major League Baseball player; Bucky Waters, broadcaster and former Duke men’s basketball coach; and Alan Kalter, the voice of Late Show with David Letterman.
Newcomers include actor Cheech Marin, boxer James “Bonecrusher” Smith, the Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible star Robert Irvine, FOX New’s Bret Baier, CNN weatherman Rob Marciano, and former NFL standouts Ken Anderson and Dwight Hicks.
Kalter, an avid golfer with a 13 handicap, has been giving up his end-of-summer holiday weekend for return visits to the Lowcountry for five years. But no one is twisting his arm.
“It’s been great,” Kalter said. “It’s one of the few tournaments that I look forward to every single year.”
Kalter said aside from the championship courses (he described the 18th at Harbour Town as “a beautiful hole, but a nightmare”), it’s the people who make the Celebrity Golf tournament a must return.
“The volunteers there are absolutely tremendous,” said Kalter, a member at Rockrimmon Country Club in Stamford, Conn. “And the people we see on party night and during the tournament are exceptional. They are the warmest, nicest people who you like to be with for three, four days.”
Luckily, the sun usually shines on Celebrity Tournament weekend; Kalter remembered a few years back, when rain washed out Sunday’s play. The downpour didn’t stop him, Williams, comedian Gary Mule Deer and actor/songwriter Clifton Davis from getting in a round at Robert Trent Jones. They were the only golfers on the course, Kalter recalled.
“And we won,” he added, in a friendly, comedic tone Letterman TV viewers have grown familiar with over the past 15 years.
But the real winners always are the charities. There will be 20 beneficiaries this year, an increase of four from last year because of hard economic times.
The Child Abuse Prevention Association in Beaufort County is one of the non-profit organizations that has benefited from the tournament’s largesse for 21 years. The money is used for educational purposes, said Susan Cato, executive director of the organization.
Yankee’s catcher Rick Cerone with Cambridge Building Team in the weeds
“Funding, right now is critical,” Cato said. “We lost a lot of government funding from the state. More than ever, it’s vital we make every dollar go as far as it possibly can.”
2010 Celebrity Rooster
The celebrity roster will continue to change. Check www.hhcelebritygolf.com for updates.
Ken Anderson: Cincinnati Bengals, Bret Baier: FOX News, Henry Cho: Comedian, Javier Colon: Musician, Bobby Cremins: Coach, Doug Flynn: Cincinnati Reds, Alan Kalter: “Late Show with David Letterman,” Dwight Hicks: 49ers, Mark Malone: ESPN, Rob Marciano: CNN, Cheech Marin: Actor, Branford Marsalis: Musician, Sterling Sharpe: Green Bay Packers, Stephanie Schaeffer: The Apprentice, James “Bonecrusher” Smith: Boxer, Bucky Waters: Duke Basketball, Paul Williams, Singer/Songwriter/Actor