The Players Amateur Golf Tournament, held from July 7 – 12 at the beautiful Berkeley Hall Golf Club in Bluffton, is known as one of the top amateur golf tournaments in the United States. The tournament brings together many of the world’s best amateur golfers right here on Hilton Head Island – with many former Players Am contestants going on to have successful careers on the PGA TOUR.
The Players Am tournament, which attracts amateur golfers from around the world, was co-founded by Charter One Realty Agent -- and golfer -- Duke Delcher, along with fellow golfer Tom McKnight. Since founding the Players Am, Duke and Tom have grown the tournament into one of the country’s most prestigious amateur tournaments – making the annual Bluffton event a great experience for golfers, families and sponsors.
With the 2015 Players Amateur Golf Tournament at Berkeley Hall only a few short weeks away, Duke Delcher offers some insight into how, and why, he co-founded this tournament … and what the Players Am brings to Island residents and visitors – as well as people throughout the country traveling to the Lowcountry for what is one of the most well respected, and highly anticipated, tournaments in amateur golf.
The Players Amateur Golf Tournament
By Duke Delcher
In 1999, as our flight from Atlanta to San Francisco reached cruising altitude my friend and fellow competitor, Tom McKnight, and I sat back and began to discuss the upcoming U.S. Amateur and our fondness for Pebble Beach. Shortly thereafter our conversation turned to reminiscing about all the different events we had played in and what we thought of each one. At some point, I turned to Tom and posed a question: "Why don't we run our own tournament?" During the next several hours, the Players Amateur was born. Our goal was not only to create another amateur tournament, but to create the absolute best amateur golf tournament in the country.
We knew we were capable of running the event, and were pretty sure we could get the top players -- as we knew many of them and called them friends. With a new event you don't have history on your side, but with the new decade about to arrive we decided the year 2000 would be a good place to start. With both of us living in Belfair at the time, we knew the venue would be good and the players would love the southern hospitality. We also decided on being different by introducing a charitable component, which is almost non-existent in these type of events. On our return home we contacted the club, reached out to several members to gauge their interest, and off we went.
The players: Matt Kuchar, Bill Haas, Lucas Glover, Ben Curtis, Camilo Villages, Bryce Molder -- all top college players at the time -- said yes to coming to play. Our first champion, Ben Curtis, quickly went on the win the British Open. We were on the map. Younger players followed: JB Holmes, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, and many more. Word spread about the quality of the field but also how the players were treated. From inception, all we asked the players to do was to get here; from there, we housed them, fed them, afforded them nice gifts from our sponsors and all they had to do was play great golf. Relationships began between the players and host families, many that still continue today. The challenge we faced each year was not from the players or members but from the fund-raising side allowing monies to be left over for the charities.
Neither Tom nor I were in the fundraising business so we knew we needed help in this area. A few years into the event we invited Steve Wilmot, the Tournament Director of the PGA tours Heritage Classic, to play in our contestant sponsor tournament. As luck had it, we paired Steve with Lucas Glover. They had a great time -- and Steve was hooked. The next year, we began our partnership with the Heritage Classic Foundation, affording the winner a spot in the PGA tour event, and the Foundation helped us with the fundraising component. The relationship is truly a win-win as the partnership allows Steve and the Foundation to form friendships with the up-and-coming stars that will hopefully come back to play at Harbour Town for years to come.
Several years ago all parties agreed to move the Players Amateur from Belfair to Berkeley Hall. This decision was difficult for all involved, but one that was needed from the fundraising side. We have been very fortunate to have two wonderful host sites in our 15 years. The members of both communities have welcomed the players and their families with open arms.
We could not be more proud of what the Players Amateur has become and, candidly, it has exceeded our expectations. Hopefully the event will continue for many more years.
If you would like to see the future PGA tour stars up close and personal, and experience the fun and excitement of one of the most prestigious and respected amateur golf tournaments in the country, please come out to see the Players Amateur at Berkeley Hall July 7-12, 2015.
Charter One Realty is proud to be serving as sponsor for the 2015 Players Amateur Golf Tournament. For more information about the Players Am, visit www.playersam.com, or call Duke Delcher at (843) 247-0055. In addition, for more information about other exciting Lowcountry events and how you can live the Lowcountry lifestyle by purchasing a home or villa in one of the area’s beautiful communities, call Charter One Realty at (844) 526-0002. Our Trusted Advisors who, like Duke Delcher, have deep roots within the local community, can help you live the lifestyle you’ve always wanted right here in the Lowcountry by helping you find the perfect home to experience all that the region has to offer.