Friday, April 18, 2014

2014 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town

Matt Kuchar at media interview after Thursday
Jordan Spieth walks by the RBC logo on Hole No. 10
The Thursday round at the RBC Heritage of Golf renewed the long tradition of PGA players coming to this sea island town on the coast of South Carolina. Hilton Head's popularity has made it one of the fastest growing urban areas on the East Coast, and the southernmost development on HHI called Sea Pines continues to shine today as a job well done by Greenwood Development. The first tee times on Day One and Day Two call for an early 7:20 a.m. start and it was Matt Kuchar who teed off at 8:30 who was able to turn in a scorecard that read 5-under par to be the leader in the clubhouse. It was a windy day at Harbour Town and Kuchar told media afterwards that it was a 2--club wind in some places  and that he personally thought this course was a challenge whether the wind was up or not. Two other players, Scott Langley and Willie McGirt ended up at 5-under and atop the leaderboard on Thursday. The featured group teed off at 12:40 and Tom Watson, Davis Love III and Jordan Spieth drew a large gallery wherever they went on the course. This same group will tee off early on Friday, but a weather forecast for heavy rain is likely to interrupt play Friday and perhaps Saturday at the RBC Heritage. It has been quite a few years since the golf tourney faced the possibility of washout type conditions that would leave the parking lots and golf course quite soggy. Of course, no visit is complete without stopping by the marina to say hello to friends with boats. Thanks to Bobby Garmany for having me aboard the Benchmark for some hospitality, and it was good to see Trust Fun and Reel Patience too. Megayachts on hand included Rice Quarters from Charleston, Top Five, and Magic (which visits MegaDock frequently). Good Luck to all the golfers teeing it up in pursuit of the plaid jacket and who continue to support South Carolina's golf heritage.

To view past blog entries from the RBC Heritage click here.
To view past blog entries from The Masters click here.

Landmark Lighthouse at Harbour Town


Kevin Na's caddy directs him to hit it 'over there'

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

2014 Log A Load Shoot at Broxton Bridge


Niedlinger Logging Team at Fighting Crows station 

Forestry professionals can sometimes be scarce since they spend a good bit of their time in the outdoors. Convenient or not, sometimes even their cell phone signal will not work in remote woodlands. These same loggers and foresters came together on April 9 to send a clear signal that they support the local Log A Load for Kids event. Nearly 100 of them shot sporting clays at Broxton Bridge, raising $20,000 for the Children’s Hospital in Savannah.
            
Brian Crosby and Lin Houck check in the shooters
The Log A Load For Kids program is popular in the Southeast and their website at www.LogALoad.org states their mission to raise funds to improve children’s health through treatment, education and research. All of their efforts are a partnership with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals like the Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah. The local event raised around $17K in 2013, and the event has been steadily growing over the last decade.
            
Any fundraiser like this one is going to require someone being the Chief leader to hold the reigns while other volunteers rally the day of the event. Lin Houck with Collum’s Lumber Products has been heading up this local event for many years now, and is glad to give his time to support the Children’s Hospital. “The top individual shooters at the 2014 shoot were Palmer Townsend, Chandler Gray, Sloan Gwaltney and Jamie Ayer,” said Houck.
            
Beautiful blue skies and great weather for this day!
But this ‘Klays For Kids’ shoot is really more for fun than a proper competition. It all started with a 2 p.m. registration in Ehrhardt at Broxton Bridge Plantation, when owner Jerry Varn gave a shooting safety talk to the group. “Only two shells in your gun at one time, and only load your gun when in the shooting station,” said Varn. When each four-man shooting team paid their fees, Houck and Varn sent them over to the course that requires exactly 100-shots per gunner.
            
I joined a three-man group from Georgia with Thomas Neidlinger Logging that had come to support the event. Logger Ricky Neidlinger told me that he had been shooting at this event for seven years and that his company was also a sponsor. The more sponsors there are, the more funds will be raised, and Houck makes sure that there is a sponsor drawing for prizes each year. Neidlinger and friends Victor Weston and Seth Zeigler enjoyed shooting their rounds of sporting clays, but like most others were glad to store their guns and join in some socializing.
There is a Sneaky Snipe in those woods!

A 6 p.m. supper brought everyone over to the historic dining room where Varn had cooked up seven pots of Beaufort Stew for all to enjoy. The shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn were well seasoned and the shooters were able to leave with a belly full of good groceries to go along with the satisfaction of shooting guns for a worthy cause. 

To view my feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from the shooting sports click Hank Parker  or  Palachucola or Barnsley Plantation  or  2013 U.S. Open


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 4/15/2014

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Emma and Capers Cauthen with an April red snapper release
while fishing with William Dotterer on the Dog House II
Inshore Report: Shane Clevenger at The Charleston Angler in West Ashley reports that the fishing is getting better and better as the water temps reach the upper  60’s. The redfish are beginning to break apart from the larger schools and a few  have already been caught tailing on the flats. We’ve had great Sheepshead reports from guys catching them around structure and docks using fiddler crabs for bait. Setting the hook on a sheepshead is a little  different than most other fish. When you feel the nibble, gently pull up on the rod  tip until the line goes tight and you’re good to go. Target trout at small creek mouths using a Deadly Combo from DOA Lures, and don't forget to ring that dinner bell. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Charleston Angler.

Robert Garmany at Haddrell's Point West said water temps are steadily on the rise and into the mid 60’s now, and along with that the inshore bite is also on the rise. Trout reports continue to get better and better, with even some people starting to pick up quality trout throwing top water baits such as the brand new yo-zuri 3D pencil baits and Heddon’s chug-n-spook. After the early morning topwater bite a vudu shrimp or live target shrimp fished under a popping float has been deadly on the trout in 5-6ft of water. Reds are breaking out of their large winter schools and being found along structure as well as on the flats, and while a chunk of cut mullet is always a go-to for the reds, the new savage gear shrimp and Zman ultra shrimp have also been deadly for those throwing artificials. Sheepshead reports continue to be strong at our nearshore reefs as well as along bridge pilings inshore using fiddlers and clam strips. Another sure sign that spring is kicking into high gear is the flounder reports starting to come in. Target your flounder during spring around the lowcountry’s many inlets as they begin moving in from offshore into our inshore estuaries. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore Report: Garmany reports that spring time typically has offshore fisherman giddy with excitement as the season begins to kick off and they wait for the first few good reports come in before they fuel up and make the journey out. Well wait no longer as we have already had some solid reports of dolphin coming in from 400-1200ft of water, blackfin tuna holding in 130-200ft, and some STUD wahoo coming in from the ledge recently. If you have never tried it, be sure to carry some surface chuggers and vertical jigs out for the blackfins. When the blackfin are feeding on top there is nothing more exciting than watching a 30# tuna explode on a surface plug, and when they sound later in the day vertical jigs become deadly when you can mark the fish 100ft below the surface.  In addition to the trolling, many have been doing some bottom dropping on the way home and reporting back great catches of large sea bass and triggers.

Shane says it’s still early, but we’re already getting great reports. Capt. Trey  Kemmerlin from our West Ashley shop, went about 60 miles out to the ledge this  past weekend and did some damage on the Wahoo, Mahi and Tuna. Trey says to push out  further looking for temperature breaks and weedlines and make sure to drag those  smaller baits far behind the boat for your best shot at hooking up. Make sure to use  wire leader for Wahoo so they don’t cut through the line, while Flouro leader is best for  Tuna.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 QDMA ACE Basin branch banquet

Nicole Garris and Donna Hamilton with QDMA volunteers
Collectible knife on auction
The fifth annual ACE Basin branch banquet of the Quality Deer Management Association was held Friday April 11 at the Walterboro armory. Jimmy Fitts catering brought roast beef, shrimp and grits, friend fish and jalapeno poppers to the dinner table, and I washed it down with some sweet tea. One vendor was in attendance and Cordray's Taxidermy brought a display of critters that included an otter that people wanted to touch - so obviously that furbearer has educational value. Others wanted to talk about the big bucks from last year, while some prefer to discuss food plots. Of course the silent auction and raffles demanded everyone's attention, before the auctioneer in the 10-gallon cowboy hat took over and drove the bidding up for items like knives, deer hunts, guns, coolers and sporting accessories for ranch and home life. Donna Hamilton was in attendance and told me how glad she was that a large contingent of youth from their Rack Pack club was at the banquet. Thanks to Guy Harvey Inc. for partnering with Lowcountry Outdoors in an effort to raise awareness about marine conservation. Whether it be on land or at sea, conservation is the key to the future of our outdoor heritage.

To view past blog entries from the ACE Basin branch of QDMA click here.


American flag and QDMA

Guy Harvey print; deer hunt on live auction

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 Charleston Race Week - Photos and Results

Inshore Racing at 2014 CRW
These are the most popular sailing classes
The wind gods faltered at first and then delivered in a big way on Day Two for the nearly 300-boats in 16 classes on Saturday - and they managed to complete three of four scheduled races. The third and final day of races also had light wind conditions that caused some races to begin only to be canceled shortly afterwards. Sunday always determines who takes home the bragging rights for Charleston Race Week and the custom trophies and Gosling's booty that goes along with it. For more in depth coverage visit CRW or click here for video or results.

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 20142013201220112010, and 2009.

Charleston Harbor Resort hosts Charleston Race Week

The only ALL-ladies sailing team is from Ohio

Friday, April 11, 2014

2014 Charleston Race Week - Sailing Begins

Friday Offshore Course Race Start

The calendar changes to April 2014, but the venue remains the same, as Charleston Harbor comes to life with the largest sailing regatta on the East Coast. The 2014 Sperry Topsider Charleston Race Week is held out of the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, under the watchful eye of dockmaster Kelley Poe. Race Director Randy Drafts looks over the on-the-water action, which includes presiding over multiple classes of sailboats competing simultaneously over five courses, including three inshore and two offshore. The strong winds from Thursday subsided and shifted just a bit on Friday, but all races were able to be conducted in good order. Riding on a 44-foot cabin cruiser to the offshore course with the media photographers, afforded me a close up look at the action alongside the tournament committee boats. The Charleston Race Week schedule began with a Gosling's Rum beach party on Thursday night, and continues with more onshore activities each evening until the CRW awards on Sunday afternoon. And make plans to get on the water to view the regatta on Saturday  and Sunday.

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 2013201220112010, and 2009.


Lots of color out there on the ocean!

Media Coordinator Dan Dickison and CRW intern

The Gosling's Rum first family and friends

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 Masters - Eisenhower Tree Removed But Legacy Intact


Welcome to Augusta National

Think the ice storm of February 2014 was bad in the Lowcountry? The Augusta and Aiken areas are said to have been dealt a more painful blow than others and a fabled tree at the Augusta National Golf Club was damaged beyond saving, and had to be removed. The Masters holds on tightly to its traditions but the tee shot on the 17th hole will no longer be guarded by the massive pine tree with a Presidential past.
            
Golfers in the Lowcountry will be checking the pulse of the PGA Tour golf events for the next two weeks with renewed fervor. First up is The Masters from April 10 – 13 and then it’s the RBC Heritage at Hilton head from April 17 – 20. Many will make trips to visit one tournament or the other for a chance to see elite professional golfers play for the first major title of the year and the coveted green jacket. Of course, the plaid jacket from the Heritage would be a nice wardrobe addition too.
            
Masters Champions Dinner in 1963
As a veteran reporter from The Masters I can relay that only very subtle changes are allowed to occur on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club from one year to the next. History has a way of slowly taking shape at The Masters since they cherish tradition. The Eisenhower pine tree, a landmark rich in tradition, was judged as unsafe and in need of removal after the 2014 ice storm.
            
2014 Masters Menu prices 
The loblolly pine tree stationed about 200-yards from the 17th tee was decidedly blocking the left side of that fairway, and thus testing the players as they hit their driver club. A pine tree often grows tall and straight, but a tree such as this one that is left in open space, can grow just as wide with limbs as it grows tall. It didn’t just test the pro golfers, it tested the Augusta National members too.
            
Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower was known to love the game of golf and came to be a member at Augusta National Golf Club in 1948. The story goes that his ball flight on the 17th tee hit that pine tree so often, that he campaigned as a member to have the tree removed. In a now famous decision, the governing board at Augusta National turned down his request, and the tree was forever nicknamed the Eisenhower Tree.


The Eisenhower Tree on Hole. No. 17 BEFORE Ice Storm
The 2014 Masters tournament will still deliver floral and landscape beauty despite the loss of the Eisenhower Tree, and the pro golfers will find plenty of other tricky shots on the course to have to deal with. My favorite spot to sit and watch is on the 16th green, and that includes a walk under the Eisenhower Tree on my way there. This year I’ll take that same walk, but the old pine won’t be there. Only time will tell how this one tree makes the transition from shaping golf shots, to shaping Masters history.

After attending the Saturday round of The Masters I can report that only a longtime shade line lingered on the 17th fairway where the canopy of the grand tree used to be. Otherwise, there is no sign of the former landmark.

Congrats to Bubba Watson for winning the 2014 Masters and becoming just the 17th player overall to win TWO green jackets!

Vintage 1965 Patron Guide in mint condition
To view my feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from The Masters click on 2013, 2012, or 2009.
Have a Coke and a Smile - '77 Masters Mug