Hilton Head Island WTA And PGA Events Lead Into Long Beach Grand Prix
April may mean taxes to some, but to me it means a month of some of the most fun events in which I have ever been involved.
It started out in my sportswriter days in Savannah, Ga., when I was assigned to cover the Family Circle Cup, a WTA professional women’s tennis tour tournament on Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The sports editor and most of the staff were in Augusta for the Masters, so they pretty much left me alone to do what I wanted to do as far as stories and features. The tournament staff loved me and treated me like a king, something that came along rarely in the Savannah sportswriting days.
They let me play in some whacky media tournament organized by the colorful (and more than his pants!) Bud Collins, bought me meals – something I eagerly gobbled up on my meager journalist’s salary – and invited me to cocktail parties. Then I would go out to the fun bars of Hilton Head, which were often full of single young ladies to whom their wealthy fathers had intrusted their credit card to spend a week of supposed relaxation in this tiny resort.
The next week, the same place hosted the Heritage golf tournament, a PGA Tour event. I was not the lead writer so had none of the responsibilities of having to keep track of everyone at the top of the leaderboard each day. The best way to do this is to stay in the press room the entire time and watch it on TV and track it on the giant scoreboard.
Actually, if truth be known you could go out to the bar, never see a shot, and simply show up at the golfers’ press conference. They run down each and every shot, including distance and club used, and all you have to do is slap on a lead on what the tell you.
This, of course, what hardly my style. I preferred to be out on the course, among the fans. I followed an obscure golfer named Jim Hallet who was scorching the back nine one Friday and tied the course record. I had the story no one else did because the only one following him was a very pretty blonde, whom I assumed to be his wife. I was correct and we walked together, she telling me stories about how they were struggling to stay on the tour while also quizzing me about cheap places to eat in Hilton Head.
Each day after 3 p.m., I discovered from my Hilton Head tennis friends who also worked this event, the PGA Tour put out free beer in the press room. Michelob, too! So after I finished my stories, I would put a couple cans in my pocket and walk around the course, by the boats in Harbor Town and eventually to the awesome Quarterdeck Bar that was absolutely slammed on Saturdays and Sundays.
When I departed Savannah for Los Angeles, I knew I would miss my fun April events on Hilton Head. But guess what happens here in April: The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach!
That’s one of the most fun events of the year, and I’ve been involved with it for years, the last few being associated with the Miss Grand Prix girls.
So April has continued its fun run with me, from coast to coast.