After playing a round of golf at Long Cove Club, Tony Kull would often swing by “the clubhouse” to grab a drink, watch golf and socialize with friends.
He didn’t go to the official clubhouse on 44 Long Cove Drive, though. He went to Jim Ferguson’s house, located just off the 14th fairway.
“We would open a few bottles of wine, have a few beers and watch golf,” Kull said. “Jim called it the clubhouse because everybody was there. He would always joke that sooner or later he was going to start charging us dues.”
When Kull says “us” he means nearly everybody that passed Ferguson’s home on Combahee Road. Long Cove’s unofficial clubhouse had an open door policy.
“He had a refrigerator on his patio,” Ed Brown said. “As golfers went by, they were always welcome to stop and get a bottle of water, a beer or whatever. His home was always open to his friends.”
More than 80 friends and family members gathered at “the clubhouse” on May 2 to honor Ferguson, who died unexpectedly on April 27 at the age of 59.
The tearful tribute started with a lone bagpiper marching down the 14th fairway and ended with golfers in attendance hitting a ceremonial tee shot into nearby Broad Creek.
The event was organized by Brown and Charlie Hall.
“Jim was a very competitive golfer and had a really good amateur career,” Hall said. “We felt like we needed a golf tribute and we had the venue to do it, with Jim living right here on 14. They did the same thing for Payne Stewart (who died in 1999).”
Ferguson established himself as one of the better golfers on the island, winning the Hilton Head Island Amateur championship twice along with several other tournaments. A highlight to his golf career came in 2010, when he competed in the USGA’s U.S. Senior Open. Off the course he was a popular Hilton Head Island real estate executive.
Ferguson is survived by his 13-year-old daughter Megan and adult sons Tim and Ben. Following the ceremonial golf shot, many participants offered Ferguson’s children their condolences.
“I can’t believe the amount of people that came out here at 8 in the morning,” Ben Ferguson said. “This community continues to amaze me. Everybody rallies around and helps each other. I feel blessed just to be part of a community like this.”
Ferguson died following the first round of the Hilton Head Island Amateur Golf Association’s Senior Championship at Oldfield Golf Club. Playing partner Jeff Wong said Ferguson was his normal lovable self and showed no warning signs during play.
After the round, he got on his car and headed for home but did not make it out of the plantation. Brown compared it to losing a member of his family.
“Two simple words: Total shock,” Brown said. “It’s just a tremendous void. He was a great, great friend and was just a wonderful, caring person.”
Brown and many of Ferguson’s friends used the tribute to share their favorite stories of “the clubhouse” and the big man with the equally big heart and personality.
“There was no stone left unturned,” Brown said. “He worked hard, he played hard. The man got more out of a day than anybody I’ve ever met in my life. He will be missed.”