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Great Grand Champions tee off together for The First Tee

October 29, 2015

By Jeff Shain, The (Hilton Head) Island Packet

Jim Ferree

“See all these pictures?” Jim Ferree says, grabbing a glossy poster adorned with two rings of black-and-white photos that recall a different era in golf.

There's Sam Snead along the bottom right, his photo alphabetically next to Charlie Sifford. Billy Casper graces the top row. Doug Ford. Miller Barber. Don January. Tommy Bolt. Lee Elder. And, yes, Hilton Head Island's very own Ferree.

Hall of Famers. Major winners. Some just PGA Tour mainstays, reaching back to the days before Arnie gathered an army and Gary Player was on his first 100,000 air miles.

The poster calls them the "Great Grand Champions of the PGA Tour." More to the point, they laid the foundation for what's now the Champions Tour. And, all these years later, there aren't that many left.

"Only 10 people, out of all these people, are alive," Ferree said.

And that's what made Monday's gathering at Wexford Plantation such a special occasion. Eight of those 10 -- all who could travel -- came to Hilton Head Island for an afternoon holding court and remembering old times to help raise money for The First Tee of the Lowcountry.

The outing generates one-fourth of the chapter's annual operating budget. On Monday, their coffers were also enhanced by a $100,000 donation from Colleton River Plantation.

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