In many ways, John Patterson fits the description of a typical Hilton Head Islander. He came to the area by way of Ohio, landing in the Lowcountry as a college intern at Colleton River Plantation and deciding to put down roots. Over the past 22 years, he has worked as a golf pro, an ongoing career in real estate and is raising his family to love the area.
It’s the kind of life that could describe a number of local residents, save for one important detail: Unlike other golf-loving Ohio transplants, Patterson spent several years on the pro circuit and is now enjoying a resurgence as an amateur.
“From 1998-2003, I played full-time,” said Patterson, who now works as the membership marketing director and real estate sales at Chechessee Creek Club in Okatie. “It was an amazing experience; I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have some great memories and friends from my tour days.”
Patterson said his career highlight as a pro was making it to the PGA Tour qualifying school finals, with his wife, Kimberlee, caddying for him. “Kimberlee was pregnant with JD, our son. It made for a special time to make it through tour school,” he said.
He hung up his pro clubs at the end of 2003, as the traveling was getting tough on the young family. Patterson jumped into the real estate business, then in 2011 made his way to Chechessee Creek Club, where he’s in charge of membership and real estate sales.
By 2009, though, the itch to compete on the golf course had returned. That year, Patterson had his amateur status back and began playing more regularly. In 2012, he qualified for the U.S. Mid-Am in Chicago and made it to the round of 16. Then he won the South Carolina Open in 2013 and the Hilton Head Open in both 2013 and 2014.
“I’m enjoying the competitive side of golf again, but as an amateur,” said Patterson, who attributes at least some of his success to the course he gets to play frequently. “Being at Chechessee has been unbelievable for my game. The golf course layout here is fantastic, it has really helped my game.”
Another favorite local course is Harbour Town Golf Links. “I love the challenge of Harbour Town. It has a great layout that’s stood the test of time,” he said. “It’s one of the shortest courses the tour plays all year, but one of the most challenging they play as well.”
Staying busy with his career and family — JD is now 13, and his daughter, Taylor, is 6 — it’s tough to play as frequently as he used to as a pro, but he is having a lot of fun with this second incarnation of his golf career. Besides winning the local tournaments, he said a highlight as an amateur has been the opportunity to play in The Crump Cup at Pine Valley in Clementon, New Jersey.
“Year in and year out, that’s rated the No. 1 golf course in the world,” he said. “Playing in the Crump for the first time in 2013, and the opportunity to go back is something I very much look forward to.”