Justin Jarrett | LowcoSports@gmail.com
This time of year tends to be nostalgic for me.
It was the second week of July in 2005 when we hopped out of the U-Haul truck after setting out from Kansas 2 1/2 days earlier and were hit by that first wave of South Carolina heat and humidity.
I was sure we had made a grave mistake by moving here on faith.
A couple days later, I was on the most beautiful golf course I had ever seen, shooting video clips of amateur golfers named John Holmes (you now know him as J.B.) and Brian Harman, among others.
I was home.
The Players Amateur will always hold a special place in my heart as the first major event I covered for The Island Packet, and also because of the first-class treatment from the Heritage Classic Foundation staff, not to mention the phenomenal food. Driving up the Avenue of Oaks, past the banners proclaiming past champions that already included a major champion in Ben Curtis and a couple of up-and-coming pros in Bill Haas and Camilo Villegas, it was clear I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
The venue has changed from Belfair to Berkeley Hall, but the quality of the event remains elite in every aspect. The world’s best amateur golfers are back in Bluffton this week, and we’re presented with the opportunity to see tomorrow’s PGA Tour stars right here in our backyard in an incredibly accessible setting.
There’s no such thing as a can’t-miss prospect in golf. The game is too fickle and demanding, and even the best amateur players often flame out short of reaching the PGA Tour, but you can be sure many of the players teeing it up for today’s final round at Berkeley Hall will one day earn a living chasing that little white ball, and at least a handful will do so at the highest level, perhaps returning to the Lowcountry to compete at the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing.
If you keep up with the Players Amateur year after year, you’ll soon be unable to watch a major championship without recalling when Rickie Fowler torched Belfair’s West Course (24-under!) to win in 2007 or that Brooks Koepka twice finished in the top five but was unable to close the deal (unlike his door-slamming performance at this year’s U.S. Open).
Then we can spend the second week in July growing nostalgic together.