Local golf champion shifting his focus to instruction

Tom McKnight of Bluffton’s Berkeley Hall has distinguished himself as an amateur, as well as a professional golfer.

McKnight, 60, a native of Galax, Virginia, took up golf as a teenager and eventually played on the University of Virginia golf team before graduating in 1976.


jdhoftJ.D. Hoft has always been a talented athlete, but with golf, this two-time Hilton Head Amateur champion got a second chance.

Growing up in Nutley, New Jersey, in the shadow of Manhattan’s skyscrapers, J.D. Hoft was every bit the natural athlete. Even in his junior year of high school, this talented soccer and baseball standout was already on the radar for several prominent college recruiters.

His fast track to athletic stardom was all but assured, until the day he blew his knee out.

“At the time, all I thought was, ‘I can’t play soccer; what the hell am I going to do?’,” Hoft said.

JIM-KAREN-FERREEGolf has been a part of Karen Ferree’s life in the South for nearly a half a century.

Ferree, 63, started playing golf in her youth and rose through the amateur and pro ranks. She still competes on the regional and national level.

In 2013, she won her first two matches at the U.S. Senior Women's Amateur in extra holes.

Ferree entered the South Carolina Golf Hall of Fame last year as a champion amateur golfer and as a Class A PGA professional at Hilton Head Island’s Long Cove Club. She became one of the state's first female professionals, and served in that role for several years before marrying her husband, Jim, a former PGA Tour pro, in 1987.

JIM-KAREN-FERREEGolf still a big part of Jim Ferree’s life

Like a fine wine, Jim Ferree of Hilton Head clearly has improved with age.

Ferree, 83, a former professional who played on the PGA Tour and the Senior PGA Tour, had most of his success in his 60s — the age when most pro tour golfers are hanging up their competitive golf shoes.

Ferree, who was born in Pinebluff, North Carolina, and grew up in Winston-Salem, learned the game of golf from his father, Purvis, the longtime pro at Winston-Salem's Old Town Golf Club. Ferree attended the University of North Carolina and was a member of the golf team.

Richy-WerenskiIt’s been quite the year for professional golfer Richy Werenski.

Just last spring, he was still in school, finishing up a decorated collegiate career at Georgia Tech with his strongest finish in the NCAA Championship. After graduating in June, he turned pro and promptly won three professional tournaments. He then made the Lowcountry his permanent home and is currently featured as a contestant on a popular televised golfing reality competition while pursuing his dreams on the PGA’s developmental Web.Com circuit.

The hope, possibly soon, is to launch himself into the sport’s highest ranks, the PGA Tour.

“It’s been exciting. I really couldn’t ask to be doing anything else. I love it,” Werenski said. “Whether it’s going to actually work out or not, you never know, but you’ve got to give it a shot. And I’m fortunate enough to be able to do that right now.”

Reilley-rankinProfessional golfer Reilley Rankin is a survivor, a true model of perseverance on and off the course.

Whether she’s been facing a personal loss, a life-threatening injury or the challenges of competing at her sport’s highest level, she just keeps moving forward.

Rankin lost her mother, Mary Reilley Rankin, last July after a long bout with cancer. She moved back to the area from Orlando a few years ago to help take care of her mother and to be closer to her large extended family.

Heidi-Wright-TennysonGolf lover shares her passion for the sport
Catch Heidi Wright-Tennyson at work, and golf is on the mind of the director of golf at Moss Creek Golf Club.

See her later checking out at the grocery store, and she’s likely thinking about the sport then, too.

Or spot her behind the wheel driving down Fording Island Road and — you got it.

“I’m a golf geek,” Wright-Tennyson said. “I think about golf almost all the time.”

ACIE-BAKER-JR2Sea Pines employee has 50 years on the greens  

He remembers visiting the Sea Pines Resort half a century ago.

Acie Baker Jr. — and what a name for a devoted golf employee — was in his early 20s and working at Port Royal Golf Club when he visited workers at the Ocean Course to see how it looked. That’s when the Sea Pines Resort superintendent asked Baker if he wanted a job.

He did.

And 50 years later, he still does.


BILL-GLADWELLBILL GLADWELL HANDS ME FIVE CARDS: the ace through five of clubs. In his hand he holds the ace through five of hearts.

“OK, now pick one of those cards, and repeat the number on it to yourself,” he said. His brown eyes take in my every reaction to this direction with intensity. He never tells me what he’s looking for, exactly, but I see his eyes bore into mine, flicking across my face here and there looking for … what? A subtle raising of an eyebrow? An imperceptible flaring of a nostril?

Jazz Corner owner Bob Masteller is gone, but he will not be forgotten

thejazzman02Bob Masteller moved here 42 years ago, and ever since Hilton Head found reasons to cherish him. In recent years, in recognition of all he did for this community, those celebrations have been official. Bob cast a long shadow.

A jazzman is, by definition, a risk-taker, an explorer going where you don’t need a passport to cross boundaries. Go far enough, see deeply enough, transform that into a form that soars and challenges and inspires, then send back a report: that’s the life. Along with the joy of creation, there’s a certain sadness in the enterprise — so much of what the jazz explorer finds is lost in the chatter and shadows of a nightclub.