Daufuskie's Haig Point set for Rees Jones Invitational

Haig Point ClubCasting aside presumption, it’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe that many high-profile collegiate golf tournaments don’t begin with a 45-minute ferry boat ride.

On the weekend of Sept. 6, that’s just what some of the nation’s top college golfers will do, as they board a ferry from Hilton Head Island or maybe Savannah and make their way to the understated barrier island of Daufuskie to compete in the inaugural Rees Jones Collegiate Invitational hosted by Haig Point Golf Club. 

Roger Pinckney recently wrote in the Charleston-based Garden & Gun Magazine, "Three miles by five, Daufuskie is forty-five minutes by boat from the rest of North America. We call it the Right side of the River - dirt roads, no traffic lights, no traffic at all, and our fast food has fins and fur and feathers."

The tournament's aim can be seen as three-fold: introduce a few uniformed travelers to a primarily undiscovered Southern treasure, provide a platform to watch some of the nation's top collegiate teams in competition and re-introduce a golf course that has received significant praise from golf's top publications over the years.

Arizona State University (ASU), whose golf alumni include Phil Mickelson, Billy Mayfair, Paul Casey and recent Canadian Open winner Chez Reavie, will headline the list of schools participating in the first-ever 54-hole-event. The Sun Devils have appeared in 24 National Finals over the past 25 years. During the past 16 years under head coach Randy Lein, ASU has captured eight Pac-10 titles and received 35 All-American honors.

Ferry to Haig Point"This will be a great opportunity to come see some of the country's top players and teams that will likely be in the mix for the national championship this coming season," said Michigan State coach Sam Puryear whose Spartans are one of five teams in the field to have won a conference championship in 2007-08.

The Signature Golf Course at Haig Point will also be on display for a large audience for the first time since undergoing a $5.5 million renovation and restoration project overseen by original architect Rees Jones, who originally designed the course in 1986, and his design associate Greg Muirhead.

Haig Point was ranked as one of the top 100 private golf course communities in the country by Golf Digest Magazine earlier this decade and earned a No. 72 ranking on Golf Digest's list of "America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses" in 1997-98.

Among the changes to the course were added length, the course now measures 7,350 yards from the tips, and altered various features that make the Carolina Lowlands layout a better test for players of all abilities.

"It now has the length to handle the games of the country's top collegiate players," explained Jones, who hopes to attend the event. "The four par-3s are among the best collection of short holes to be found anywhere. The 9th and 18th are outstanding par-5s. The collegiate players will likely go for the 9th green in two and the 18th definitely offers some eagle possibilities. With the rebuilt greens, the collegiate players will find the putting surfaces as firm and fast as they could possibly want.

"I am very proud of Haig Point," Jones added. "It is one of the top layouts on my design resume. The players should be wowed by the course."

Haig Point Golf CourseAs for Daufuskie Island itself, visitors can expect to be equally wowed. This laidback island setting is free from the hustle and bustle of ordinary life and is accentuated by beautiful surroundings. Whether you decide to spend your time strolling through a marshy forest laden with moss-draped live oaks or taking in the scenery of one of the island's natural beaches, this barrier island is the perfect escape everyone must discover at least once.

"Not only will this event give people in the Hilton Head area and beyond an opportunity to see some of the country's premier amateur golfers compete," said Director of golf Jason Cherry, "but also the chance to take a wonderful ferry ride across Calibogue Sound, experience Daufuskie Island and see the newly restored Haig Point Signature Course."

The tournament will begin with a practice round Sept. 6, followed by 36 holes of competition Sept. 7 and the final 18 holes Sept. 8.

Competing teams include Arizona State, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, Jackson State, Georgia State, Methodist University, Grambling State, San Diego State, Idaho, Toledo, University of Texas at Arlington, San Jose State, UNC-Wilmington, Tennessee State and Troy. 

 

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