Thursday, September 24, 2009

Amelia Island Plantation Golf Course

Amelia Island Plantation Golf Course

We learned the news within a week's time and the golf community here, loaded with good people, has lost two of the best. Of course one will still be around and we hope one comes back in the future. But for now, it's our loss, ranging from local events to the richest tournament in golf.

Henry Hughes announced his retirement from the PGA Tour, after 25 years of service that included Tour business affairs, marketing, Championship Management and the operation of The Players Championship and the Senior Players. Also, Robert Dugger will be moving back to his native Fort Worth, Texas, after nine years as director of golf at the Amelia Island Plantation. Dugger also served as the head pro at the TPC Sawgrass.

Hughes helped run The Players in two eras, in the 1980s when it became the Tour's marquee event and in the past couple of years, assisting in the transition of the event to May. Hughes was always a steady hand and a cool head, and the good news is that he and his wife Patty will maintain a home in Ponte Vedra after he retires next July.

The circumstances involving Dugger are a little tougher, and have everything to do with the economy. His position at AIP was eliminated, with the pros at the four courses there answering now to the general manager of the property. He embodied all that goes into the makeup of a good club professional -- including integrity.

I'm always going to remember the day in the Cup Matches when his opponent, Alan Henderson, was lining up a 50-foot putt at the 18th green at Timuquana, and Dugger quietly reminded Henderson's caddie that it might be a good idea if he tended the flagstick. Henderson made the putt to win the match and give the Amateurs a half-point victory. As I wrote at the time, Henderson won heroically and Dugger lost honorably.

We know we'll see Henry Hughes around town after he retires. Here's hoping Robert Dugger finds a way to get back here another day.

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