His driver’s license is from Georgia, and the college team stickers in the back window of his vehicles read “North Carolina” – where, legend has it, he was the guy who introduced UNC classmate Michael Jordan to golf (His Airness figured out basketball on his own).
But for much of his life – and especially in 2016 – Davis Love III has spent enough time in South Carolina to qualify as an unofficial native son.
In 1987, then in his third season on the PGA Tour, Love won the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing in a most unexpected way. Standing behind the 18th green at Harbour Town Golf Links after his Sunday round, he watched, stunned, as tournament leader Steve Jones hit out of bounds right at the 18th, handing Love his first Tour victory.
Lest anyone think that a fluke, Love went on to win four more times at Harbour Town; his five titles is the most of anyone since the tournament began in 1969, and two more than runner-up Hale Irwin. But Love’s “love affair” with the Palmetto State goes back even before then.
“South Carolina has been great to me over the years, going back to my junior-golf days and my amateur golf days playing in the Rice Planters Invitational at Snee Farm (in Mount Pleasant),” he says. Love also is a regular participant each April at the Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters charity pro-am, which was played in Columbia before shifting to the Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach.
Most recently, his golf course architecture firm, Love Golf Design (with his brother, Mark), has been busy renovating another Sea Pines Resort golf property, the Ocean Course. That project kept the Loves on-site or making the two-hour commute from Love’s St. Simons, Ga., home for months.
That isn’t Love’s first business venture in South Carolina. One of his early projects was Eagle’s Pointe Golf Course near Bluffton. He also designed Fripp Island’s Ocean Creek Course and The Patriot Golf Club at Grand Harbor, near Lake Greenwood. Not to mention the Love Course at, of all places, Barefoot Resort.
“South Carolina has been great golf, and great to me, for sure,” he says.
Little wonder, then, that Love says he always looks forward to returning to Harbour Town each April. After all, no one else owns five tartan blazers, symbolic of victory at the RBC Heritage.
Whether playing golf, hanging out with friends or just enjoying the resort lifestyle, Hilton Head for Love is a second home. About that UNC degree and Jordan, though …
Hometown: Charlotte; lives at St. Simons Island, Ga.
Bio: Son of the late Davis Love Jr., a renowned golf instructor killed in a 1988 plane crash; played college golf at North Carolina; turned professional in 1985 and won 21 titles on the PGA Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship; also plays the PGA Tour Champions; career earnings of $44 million as of 2014-15; founded Love Golf Design in 1994.
Highlights: Won the first of his five RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing titles in 1987 for his first victory on the PGA Tour; won the 2015 Wyndham Championship at age 51, becoming the third-oldest winner in PGA Tour history and one of three men to win titles in four different decades; in 2015, named captain of the 2016 US Ryder Cup team.
Where I play: “Other than Hilton Head, we’ve built a couple of courses in South Carolina, at Fripp (Island’s Ocean Creek Course) and in Greenwood (The Patriot at Grand Harbor). Both are fun little golf courses and very different. The one in Greenwood has some really neat characteristics; it’s a neat course to play, the members love it, and Lake Greenwood is a great area."
“I’ve always enjoyed golf in South Carolina, playing at Snee Farm in the Rice Planters (as an amateur) and now in Darius Rucker’s thing (MAM at Barefoot Resort’s Dye Course) in Columbia and now in Myrtle Beach.”
Where I eat: “I drive way out of my way to drive to Charleston to eat. Home Team Barbecue (two locations) is one of my favorites, and Chef Michael Otto at The Ordinary and Fig is a friend. Charleston is a hotbed for eating, for sure. (There’s) Husk, too. I love everything about Charleston; it’s certainly a city I could live in."
“Then when we come to Hilton Head, we go to a lot of favorites here, too. The food’s great everywhere we play in South Carolina. (I like) mostly barbecue; Stripes was our favorite, but it closed. That was our favorite on Tour, so now we’re having to kind of replace it."
“We’ve found A Lowcountry Backyard, which is right outside the Sea Pines gate, found that the last few years and it’s really good. And we like Santa Fe, and Truffles, and we always go to Giuseppi’s and eat pizza. I’ve always got to hit a few quick balls so I can go get a slice of pizza.”