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Teeing up the future

The Darius Rucker Intercollegiate brings the world’s top up-and-coming female golfers to Long Cove Club.

Story By Barry Kaufman

The Seminoles became the first team to finish with under-par scores as Florida State set team and individual records in last year’s Darius Rucker Intercollegiate.

Sure, when most people think of “that golf tournament on Hilton Head,” they think of the RBC Heritage. But over the last few years, our “other” big golf tournament has seen its profile rise in the golf world to enjoy a place of prominence as one of the top stops in the country.

Now in its ninth year, the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate has become the place to see the next generation of female golfers. Boasting a lineup of the top 17 collegiate teams from around the country, it’s fair to say that when Long Cove Club Director of Golf Bob Patton refers to this as “one of the nation’s premiere women’s intercollegiate golf tournaments,” they have the field to back that up.

“We started nine years ago with just 15 teams and 70 volunteers,” said Tournament Chair Rob Ryan. “Today, we have 17 teams representing 30 countries and over 100 volunteers.”

And these players are not just the best in the collegiate sphere. They are the next generation, with several of the women who have played Long Cove going on to greatness in the LPGA. “It makes you feel like you were a part of their success,” said Ryan. “Some return to see their teams in action, and it is fun to hear their stories and see how much credit they give this competition.”

Beyond the competition, the tournament allows proud South Carolinian Darius Rucker a chance to give back. The Grammy-winning country artist and on-again-off-again frontman for ‘90s icon group Hootie and the Blowfish always kicks off the tournament with a private concert at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. With an invite-only list of players, coaches, sponsors and Long Cove Club residents, this represents an exclusive opportunity for the tournament to hear a great artist perform live.

“I’m such a fan of golf myself, so I love meeting all the players and watching them compete,” Rucker told Local Life in advance of last year’s tournament. “And then the fans are the reason we get to do what we love for a living, so I always appreciate meeting them. Their excitement is contagious.”

Hosting such talented young players as well as a bona fide musical celebrity is a huge feather in the cap for Long Cove Club as well.

“The members look forward to this event as much as the teams do,” said Ryan. “We have been told this is their favorite and they help us to showcase our famous course and energetic membership. Attendance has increased every year and it gives us pleasure to host such a premier tournament.”


BE A SPECTATOR

Tee times for the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday, March 6, and Saturday, March 7, and 8 a.m. Sunday, March 8. Spectators are welcome during the day of play. For more information, visit longcoveclub.com.


Darius Rucker Intercollegiate Alumni on the LPGA Tour

This annual tournament has drawn the top talent from women’s college golf, serving as a springboard toward the LPGA. There are currently 28 alumni on the tour:

1.   Marina Alex – Vanderbilt

2.   Brittany Altomare – Virginia

3.   Laetitia Beck – Duke

4.   Celine Boutier – Duke

5.   Katie Burnett – South Carolina

6.   Jacqui Concolino – Vanderbilt

7.   Lauren Coughlin – Virginia

8.   Katelyn Dambaugh – South Carolina

9.   Mari Fassi – Arkansas

10. Kristen Gillman – Alabama

11. Jiwon Jeon – Alabama

12. Cheyenne Knight – Alabama

13. Jennifer Kupcho – Wake Forest

14. Bronte Law – UCLA

15. Alison Lee – UCLA

16. Yu Liu – Duke

17. Gaby Lopez – Arkansas

18. Ally McDonald – Mississippi State

19. Stephanie Meadow – Alabama

20. Madelene Sagstrom – LSU

21. Mia Schecter – North Carolina

22. Sarah Schmelzel – South Carolina

23. Maria Stackhouse – Standford

24. Lauren Stephenson – Alabama

25. Emma Talley – Alabama

26. Anne-Catherine Tanguay – Oklahoma

27. Emily Tubert – Arkansas

28. Alana Uriell – Arkansas