Behind every legend, there is a story. Behind every story, there is a legend … this is the story of how the Hootie Invitational was born as written by the only guy that was actually there (and still plays in the tournament). This is the Keith “Hootie” Brown story, our story.
The year was 1996, on a very, very hot summer weekend when the Hootie Invitational was born. Eight brave souls, seeking cheap golf, started on their journey to the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Palm Springs, CA.
It was 1996, beer and gas were cheap, and what seemed like a great idea at the time, golfers, clubs, and maybe clothes piled into the van of Alan Fisher with a television playing the appropriate golf movie, Tin Cup, to what is known today as the Hootie Invitational. After playing more than 18 holes on a Friday afternoon and into the early evening which we also thought was a great idea, the boys found themselves in need of a cool shower, beer and pizza. Many have asked, who were these adventurous souls? There was Norm (Jack) Ray, David “Fitz” Fitzgerald, Chris Heinemann (a friend of David’s), Alan Fisher, Jim Pangborn, Jim Taggart (a friend of Jim’s) and a friend of Taggart (which would make him a friend-of-a-friend), and myself. We all agreed to meet in the spacious suite of Fisher and Pangborn, to enjoy that cold beer and pizza to find that only Mr. Fisher was there to greet us. When asked “where is Mr. Pangborn?” to our surprise we were told that he was fast asleep, dreaming of the next round of sun and golf. But it was only 8:00 pm, someone expressed, and the only answer we were given, was “I know!”
Now, here’s where the legend really begins. Norm and I took a short drive to the local grocery store to purchase a few adult beverages. As we arrived at the checkout counter with our six-pack of MGD we were met by Mr. Heinemann and Mr. Fitzgerald, who proudly displayed their two cases of Budweiser. Offended, Heinemann asked if we were going to stay the weekend or just spend the night? This is where I learned the true use of a bathtub; Heinemann explained to me that bathtubs are for keeping your beer cold with the proper amount of ice, not bathing. Enlightened, Norm and I threw caution to the wind, found another six-pack, grabbed some beef jerky and Copper Tone (for me, I wasn’t familiar with sunblock at that time) and proceeded to checkout to enjoy our weekend.
Not much is actually documented about that first night of the first trip, because, well … because that weekend we developed the motto of “what goes on at the Hootie, stays at the Hootie”? What we I do know is late into the evening the beer flowed, pizza disappeared and so the group went down to the resort lounge (well most of us), where Chris and I outlasted everyone. Bonded by our checkout encounter, my new-found friend and I stayed at the bar for one last drink…besides he had just taught me a valuable lesson about the use of a bathtub and I understood why they put two tubs in my house.
This is where the story becomes legend. While bantering with Arthur the bartender among a few other patrons, maybe a total of fifteen, we listened to a two-piece father and daughter jazz combo… when the duo took a break, Chris decided it was time to make his move and approach the daughter (I am glad he decided on the daughter, but that is another story) You see the daughter was quite attractive and the father, well not so much. I thought it was another good idea at the time, since she was smokin’ hot, single and well, I was not.
After the break was over Chris returned to the bar and leaned back on his bar stool and whispered to me, “whatever is said, just go with it.” Being a loyal wing-man, I responded with a sure why not! Shortly after my response the young lady echoed the now immortal phase, “we have a special guest at the resort tonight; Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish.” Excited, I did what anyone else would have done, scanned the room for Darius. At this point Chris, starts to punch me in the leg under the bar and said, “Stop looking around.” Finally catching on I replied, “Why, am I Darius?” Chris responded “yes!” I smiled and gave a courteous wave as the singer asked me if I wanted to come up and sing with them. Being of quick mind and drunk, I responded with a simple, “No thank you, I’m on vacation.”
There were no other witnesses to apparition we will call “The Night of Darius,” and Heinemann has never returned to substantiate proof, but we do know the next morning, as Jim, Alan and David all arrived fresh and ready for round two, Keith was nowhere to be found. Had he fallen into his own bathtub of ice? Was he drawn in by the temptation of another woman? No, everything was fine. As Keith’s shadow broke the dawn of another glorious morning, Chris asked the rest of the guys “Where’s Hootie?” With no one knowing the episode of the night before, a synchronized response echoed across the lobby, “Hootie Whoooo?”
Let it be written, let it be done. The story is legend and the legend is Keith “Hootie” Brown...it's his story and he's stickin' with it.