One of the cooler things of being a golf fan is to say, “I knew them “when”. Though his debut on the PGA TOUR came amid a fair amount of fanfare in Dallas five years ago, I can still say I’d met high school junior Jordan Spieth before most people, certainly before mainstream America fell in love with his maturity, as well as his golf game at this year’s Masters and U.S. Open.
That’s what makes July in the Lowcountry a special time for golf fans. We have had, and still have, not one, but TWO chances to meet the “next big thing” before he becomes the NEXT BIG THING. The just-concluded Players Am, run by the Heritage Classic Foundation, has a spot in next spring’s RBC Heritage that draws the world’s best amateur players to Berkeley Hall. And while you might not know 2015 Champion Matthew NeSmith, you no-doubt know Rickie Fowler, Camillo Villegas, and Bill Haas, all multiple PGA TOUR winners who are former Players Am Champions. And among those who’ve played here, but DIDN’T win are multiple Tour winners Matt Kuchar, Lucas Glover, J.B. Holmes, Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney.
Coming up July 20th-25th, we’ll get to meet the greatest teenage players in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship hosted on Colleton River’s Dye Course.
The Junior Am is where we first realized how good Tiger Woods was going to be when he won his third straight Junior Am in 1993, just four years before he became the Masters champ. The Junior Am also counts David Duval, Hunter Mahan and Brian Harman among its winners (Harman also won the Players Am).
And some guy named Spieth, who won in 2009 and again in 2011. Could anyone who saw that Junior Am, even Jordan himself, have imagined that just four years later, he’d be slipping on the green jacket and hoisting the U-S Open trophy?
And how good is Colleton River? Pete Dye himself has said more than once that its the “best course I’ve ever designed.” Considering his World Golf Hall of Fame status, with courses like Hilton Head’s Harbour Town Golf Links, Kiawah Island, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass and Crooked Stick, that’s saying a mouthful. And all of Colleton River’s unique blend of beauty and lifestyle will be on display for the Fox TV cameras during coverage on the 24th and 25th.
All of this shows just how much Lowcountry golfers love the game. You could have seen any of the Players Am winners play here, for free, before they became names you’d gladly pay to see. Same is true for this year’s U-S Junior Am. Could there be a player in this field who’s five years away from being a Major Champion? Come on out and meet them, and make sure to remember their names!