Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Golf Tournament a Win for Everyone
Author: Kent Thune
What do blowfish, country music and golf have in common? No, the answer is not a punchline to some odd joke. All are associated with Darius Rucker: the front man and singer of the multi-platinum ’90s pop-rock band Hootie and the Blowfish, the country music recording artist, the three-time Grammy award winner, Grand Ole Opry member, golfer, and general supporter of many things Lowcountry.
Most recently, Rucker leveraged his name to bring attention to a premier golf event held in here on Hilton Head Island. This March 3-5, Long Cove Club, in partnership with Rucker and the University of South Carolina, hosted the sixth annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Golf Tournament, along with help from The Kroger Co. and Reynolds Consumer Products, among many other sponsors, including Heritage Classic Foundation and The Westin Hilton Head Resort and Spa.
“I’ve always wanted to do something for the USC women’s team, which I’ve always been a big fan of, and this just seemed like a great thing. Long Cove stepped up, all the volunteers stepped up, and it turned into a cool event,” Rucker said.
The tournament was held at Long Cove Club’s nationally acclaimed golf course. Top ladies golf teams from colleges around the country traveled to the island to compete for the title.
“This golf tournament is a premier women’s collegiate event that attracts top schools and top ranked players from all over the country,” said Lindsay Finger, director of marketing and communications at Long Cove Club.
One of those top players was Duke University’s Leona Maguire, who is ranked first in the world on the women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking. She also competed for her home country of Ireland in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Another notable player at the tournament was South Carolina’s own Katelyn Dambaugh, who is ranked seventh in the world of amateur women golfers. Playing for the University of South Carolina, Dambaugh holds USC records for career scoring average with 72.96 per round, single-season scoring average of 71.62 in 2015-16, and all-time freshman scoring average of 73.70 in 2013-14. She recorded her first college victory in 2016 when she won the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Championship.
But top honors go to the University of Alabama for bringing home their fourth Darius Rucker Intercollegiate title. The Crimson Tide’s seven-over total gave them a two-shot win. Sophomore Cheyenne Knight defended her individual title after shooting a bogey-free 65 during the final round.
Though the golf spotlight is on these amazing women golfers, Darius Rucker is happy to take the stage for a brief time to help bring attention to the premier golf event. “Every year Darius holds a private concert for players, coaches, sponsors and other honored guests at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina,” Finger said.
When introducing him on the night of this year’s performance, USC’s Dambaugh said of Rucker, “I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him over the years back at home, and he’s really a great person with such a kind heart. And he’s so much fun to play golf with, especially when he’s playing bad, because he’s extremely funny.”
Rucker’s star status, along with the generous help of the sponsors, not to mention the world-class golf course, enables Long Cove Club to put on a truly memorable event for golfers and fans alike.
“The tournament is a three-day event and is open to the public. All of the money raised for the tournament goes back to the tournament, including housing for the players,” Finger said.
If you’re not familiar with Long Cove Club, its history goes back to the early 1970s, when three young men—David Ames, Joseph Webster III and Weston “Wes” Wilhelm—combined their development skills and philosophies, which were acquired while working for the Sea Pines Company on Hilton Head Island. In 1976, when the three men decided to venture out on their own, they formed Development Associates, Inc., with dreams of building their own community.
It was during that time in Hilton Head Island history that Sea Pines, Port Royal, Shipyard and Palmetto Dunes were gated resort and residential communities, yet most of the golf courses on the island at the time were open to the public.
After searching for a way to fulfill a vision of creating a community that embraced the simple and exclusive principles of private, single-family residential living, they found the perfect piece of land that would become Long Cove Club, a spot removed from the noise of island tourists, to transform the vision into reality.
Long Cove Club’s inaugural event began by selling home lots on August 11, 1980. Long Cove welcomed the first 100 members soon thereafter. The back nine opened in November 1981. The front nine opened in the spring of 1982. In 1985, Long Cove Club was ranked by Golf Digest as one of the Top 20 Golf Courses in the United States.
Now fast forward back to the future, today, when top women’s college golfers, Long Cove residents and visitors from all around the Lowcountry and the nation can enjoy the largest event of its kind that is hosted at the Long Cove Club golf course.
If you missed this year’s tournament, or any of the previous five tournaments, the next Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Golf Tournament is already being planned. 2018’s tournament will be held March 2-4. So, save the date, stay tuned, and don’t miss next year’s event, where there’ll be plenty more outstanding golf and beautiful Hilton Head Island landscape and weather to enjoy at Long Cove Club.
For a 2017 recap or more information about the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Golf Tournament, visit longcoveclub.com/darius-rucker-intercollegiate/. For more information on Long Cove Club, please contact Lindsay Finger at (843) 686-1074 or email@example.com.