Hootie confirms plans for move to Kiawah
Michael Miller, The State
February 2, 2001

With its Monday After the Masters charity golf tournament moving to Kiawah Island, Hootie and the Blowfish will take its traditional, post-tournament jam session to the Gaillard Auditorium in Charleston.

Previous "Hootie & Friends" concert parties took place at The Township in Columbia and featured participants such as Duncan Sheik, Bebe Winans, Edwin McCain, R.E.M.'s Mike Mills and members of Sister Hazel and Bon Jovi.

The moves were announced by the band's manager Rusty Harmon at a Thursday press conference on Kiawah Island.

The tournament and concert are scheduled for April 9, the Monday after The Masters professional golf tournament in Augusta.

"It was not so much about what was wrong in Columbia, but more about what we could do to make it better," Harmon said in a recent interview. "We've played lots of other charity golf tournaments in places like Florida and Hawaii, and the cool thing about those is the resort atmosphere they have to offer. We just wanted to make our tournament more special for the players and their families."

Confirmed participants at the Kiawah tournament in April include PGA players John Daly, Jay Haas, Peter Jacobsen and Rory Sabbatini; ESPNís Dan Patrick and Stuart Scott; sports celebrities Dan Marino, Charles Barkley and Bryan Cox; and members of the rock bands Creed, Sister Hazel and Bon Jovi.

Harmon said he, the band and tournament director Paul Graham have discussed relocating the tournament in years past, but now seemed the perfect time.

"The thing that always made the tournament really special was that it took place in the band's hometown, but to be quite honest, Columbia is not our hometown anymore. Three of the four guys live in Charleston now, so itís not as important to keep it in Columbia."

Of the four band members, only drummer Jim Sonefeld still lives in Columbia.

Harmon lives in Columbia as well, and he said the 3 Rivers Musical Festival, which debuted last year on the weekend prior to the tournament, had "absolutely nothing" to do with the decision to move to Kiawah.

Many Columbia music fans had speculated that the attention generated by 3 Rivers had infringed on Monday After the Masters and prompted the move.

"We've had a wonderful relationship with the band, and I can certainly understand that their golf tournament is better suited for a resort like Kiawah," said Columbia mayor Bob Coble.

Hootie's tournament began in 1995 when it was first played at the Spring Valley Country Club and featured 15 touring pros from the PGA. It has grown to be the largest one-day charity fund-raiser in the state. Over the past six years, the tournament has donated more than $1.3 million to the South Carolina Junior Golf Foundation and the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation, which benefits public education in South Carolina. This year's event is expected to raise $300,000.

In previous years, a variety of athletes and celebrities, from Tiger Woods to Alice Cooper, have competed in the event.

"We totally support the band," said Happ Lathrop, executive director of the South Carolina Golf Association. "They have been great friends and where they go, we will follow."

Monday After the Masters will be played on Kiawah's popular Ocean Course. It is widely known in golf circles as one of the world's best, and Harmon hopes it will give the Hootie event a significant calling card.

"We just want to make our tournament as special as we can, and keep the money for charity in the state," Harmon said.

Sports editor Bob Spear contributed to this report.

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