By Neil Davis Thomson, Chairman Emeritus

April 5, 2022

“Hollywood” Hollowell, the Captain of the 2010 Winning Red Numbers at Sea Island, his last PDL appearance. 

The sports reporter, John T. Kummel, quietly strode over to Neil Thomson on the range.

For a while, the young scribe stayed silent, watching the Ponce statesman clip high buttery 8 iron fades over the Lowcountry horizon, time and time again.  A nice tight divot pattern, Kummel noted.  Thomson appeared dialed and ready.  The 20th Ponce de Leon Invitational: an epic amateur championship contested between 20 Americans and 20 Brits, was merely a few days away.

Kummel finally summoned the courage to interrupt Thomson’s peaceful, artistic display and ask:

“The word is you added a rookie, a cagey Charleston stick named Terrence Tobin.  Is that true?  What happened to Andrew Hollowell?”

“Ah yes.”  Thomson gazed in the distance.  “Hollowell”.

Thomson pontificated:

“Andrew Hollowell is one of the last true Scotch-Americans.  He is equal parts half-Edinburgh and half-Charlotte. The cemetery over at First Scots Presbyterian on Meeting Street is chock full of Hollowells, dating back to 1750 – many of them buried with niblicks and some of the first featheries to come stateside.

Hollowell’s last appearance as Captain of the 2010 winning Red Numbers with W. Battle, R. Massie and N. Thomas (Emeritus)

Where did I fit in with him?  In 2001, during my breaks from law school, he was kind enough to introduce me to these hallowed grounds here at Yeamans Hall.  We have been kindred golf souls ever since, battling on Raynor’s pitch for years.  And aye, he has played in 6 prior Ponces, first way back in 2004 (our first 16 man field) and then for 5 straight Ponces from 2006 through 2010.  Hollywood was a valued teammate and a bastion of the Ponce.  But then he fell astray a bit.  Rumors of Q-School and mini-tours down on the panhandle of Florida. Others spotted him back “home” near Glasgow sipping cordials with the Scottish golf cognoscenti.   Some of his inner circle claimed he actually never left the upper peninsula of Charleston for a period of 5 years.  It was hard to say.  Fast forward to 2021 as I planned to bring the Ponce to Charleston for the first time in its 20 year history.  Despite his long, unexplained absence from this event. I knew a Charleston Ponce could not go without the Scotsman being a part of it.  So I reached out – first to his agent, and then I got a direct call with him.  We were ecstatic that “Hollywood” immediately accepted my invitation to play on the American Team (after clearing his conflicts of interest when I assured him that the Great Britain team did not have any pure Scots on its roster).”

Kummel was fascinated.  For the first time in 12 Ponces, the Scotsman was back!  The news indeed reverberated from Hanahan to Dornoch.  From the Blind Tiger and Selwyn’s Pub to the Dunvegan.

Thomson continued:

“But then about 3 weeks ago.  As Chairman, I got the news that no Chairman ever wants to hear.  The Scotsman had been battling a herniated disc that he couldn’t overcome and was forced to withdraw from the 2022 “Home Ponce” in Charleston.  He tried all of the herbal remedies; over the counter; under the counter you name it.  Supermarket.  Black market.  He actually called me from a cryo-chamber.  But in his words: “I can’t even connect with a wedge.  My body won’t let me.”  I immediately called Captain Ike Morton to deliver this tough news.”

And as the golf world knows, Tobin came in to DH.  A strong candidate for sure.  So as long as Terry can overcome his alma mater’s Tar Heel’s recent collapse in the NCAA Championship hoops game, all expect him to be a significant contributor, and he will fit in nicely both on and off the course with this crew.

Kummel was feeling brazen:

“Yes, I have heard about Tobin, and know he has game.  The St. Louis roots; the love of match play; the Chechessee Tea south of town.  I get it.  But, what I really want to know:  will we ever hear from or about Hollowell again?  Will he drift back in the ether of peninsular Charleston, or up to the Highlands north of Dornoch, Scotland?”

This tone rankled Thomson (so much that he hit an 8-iron 3 or 4 feet off his intended target, 167 yards out):

“Young man!  Stand down.  A Charleston Ponce without Hollowell??? Let me put it this way.   Do you play blackjack?”

Kummel:  “Sometimes… but what does…”

Thomson:  “Listen to me.  What is the only hand better than a 20.”

Kummel (stammering):  “Well, uh, I mean…what does the dealer have?”

Vice-Captain Jordan, perennial Ryder Cup Team USA Vice-Captain

Thomson:  “Come on man.  The answer is 21.  Blackjack.”  Our Ponce team – with Hollowell out with injury is strong.   Essentially our team of 20 was a 20, but it was a soft 20.  An Ace and a 9.  And I don’t care what the pundits say.  I hit that soft 20 and got another Ace.!!! 21.  Hollowell is our second ace.    I called him up and tapped him to be our (non-competing) Vice-Captain.  We have our Ponce Blackjack!  You will see him in team huddles; in the American team room; you will see him riding around Yeamans with his earpiece.  Not since Michael Jordan at Brookline in 1999 has there been a more notable American Vice-Captain than Hollowell.

Kummel stood approvingly:  “ I see. I see.”

Kummel quietly slipped away from the range and went to that all-familiar “702” area code number on his speed dial.  Yes, his sharps in the Nevada desert.  Within 30 minutes the American Ponce team odds shifted significantly – from the MGM, to the Bellagio, from FanDuel to William Hill:  With this “Blackjack Hollowell” Vice-Captaincy news, American Ponce team odds went from 3/1 to win the Helmet to Even Money.

Let’s go!


The 20th Ponce De Leon begins in 4 days in Charleston.