Held at the famed Harbour Town Golf Links, the Pro-Am is one of the most anticipated events leading up to the annual RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. Not only do amateur golf enthusiasts get the chance to play alongside some of the most recognizable names in professional golf, but the entry fees for the event help fund the Heritage Classic Foundation's community charity programs. The opportunity to rub shoulders with favorite pro golfers, as well as support worthy local charities, keep players coming back year after year, making spots in the Pro-Am quick to sell out.
This year, the Heritage Classic Foundation expects 28 professional golfers and 112 amateurs to participate in the Pro-Am scheduled for Monday, April 11, while the Wednesday, April 13, event will feature 52 pro golfers and 208 amateurs.
The events offer a unique and surprisingly intimate experience that allows players to play with, and learn from, golf masters. While the events certainly can't be considered a magnet for celebrities, the pro-ams have attracted their fair share of notable amateur players throughout the years, including retired Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, former U.S. Open champion Stan Smith, and Olympian Bruce Jenner, who participated in 1994. This year, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn are scheduled to play in the Monday Pro-Am, with former USC football couch Steve Spurrier playing in the Wednesday Pro-Am.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with some of professional golf's biggest stars, the amateur players who return year after year shine just as bright. One such player is Dr. Nelson Carswell, who has competed every year since the tournament began in 1969. This will be his 48th consecutive Pro-Am.
Harry C. Carter Jr. is another longtime Pro-Am participant. Carter began playing in the Heritage Pro-Am in 1993 and has many fond memories of his experiences at Harbour Town Golf Links.
“This is the only sport I know of that an amateur can actually play along with a professional,” he said. “It is a wonderful experience that any golfer would love. Of course, it is very nice to contribute to a worthy cause and have fun at the same time. One of my favorite things about the Pro-Am is seeing old friends returning year after year, all helping support the wonderful charities that our tournament contributes to in the Hilton Head area.”
Paul Muthig, who has been playing in consecutive Pro-Ams since 1994, first dreamed of playing with the pros while working as a gofer and shoe-shiner at Harbour Town Golf Links between undergraduate and graduate school.
“I worked in the locker room during one of the tournaments, running errands for the pros and shining shoes,” Muthig said. “I promised myself if I ever got the chance, I would come back someday and participate in the Pro-Am.”
Muthig's participation in the Pro-Ams has resulted in long-lasting friendships, as well as some truly unforgettable moments.
“I have been playing with the same partners for past five to six years and really enjoy seeing my partners,” he said. “However, my favorite thing is talking to the pro partners over the years. With only one exception, they have been very friendly and provided us with great moments to remember.”
For Muthig, some of his favorite memories come from playing with Brad Faxon in 1999 and 2000.
“My tee shot on the 14th hole in the 2000 Pro-Am sat on the edge of the hole and would not go in for a hole-in-one,” he said. “The next morning, I was buying a print of the hole from the artist that used to have a booth near the first tee box. The announcer called Brad Faxon to the tee to begin his play in the tournament. Seconds later, I heard someone calling me. It was Brad Faxon on the first tee. He called me (over) and offered to sign the print. The next week, I received a hand-written note from Mr. Faxon, thanking me for playing in the Pro-Am and making a swing suggestion to practice to improve my game. I still have that print and note framed and hanging in my front hall.”
For more information on the one-of-a-kind experience offered at the Heritage Pro-Am, call Morgan Hyde at 843-671-2448, ext. 231. To learn more about the Heritage, call 843-671-2448 or go to www.rbcheritage.com. The Heritage Classic Foundation is also on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.