The ‘Palmetto Players’ earn major accolades at big events
In a state brimming with talented golfers, a contingent of McConnell Golf members from South Carolina has risen to the cream of the crop. Hailing from Musgrove Mill Golf Club, The Reserve Golf Club and Grande Dunes, the “Palmetto Players” have enjoyed a particularly impressive recent run of success.
In 2018, Musgrove Mill members Robert Lutomski and Walter Todd Sr. were honored as the South Carolina Golf Association (SCGA) Players of the Year, awarded to the top amateur and the top senior amateur in the Palmetto State.
Lutomski, who resides in Holly Tree, used a consistent season to win his first amateur Player of the Year award. Todd, who hails from Laurens, won his third straight senior amateur Player of the Year, joining a select group of Palmetto State golfers who have accomplished the honor. The two McConnell Golf members received their Player of the Year awards in January at the annual South Carolina Golf Day celebration at Columbia Country Club.
“These guys are all ideal representatives of the best golf being played around the Palmetto State,” said Musgrove Mill Director of Golf Jeff Tallman. “They truly personify all the finest qualities that golf has to offer and everything that is good about the game.”
Lutomski was able to win the Player of the Year award by just eight points over N.C. State junior Christian Salzer from Sumter. In recent years, SCGA Player of the Year winners have ranged from former tour pros to collegiate players to lifelong amateurs.
Lutomski captured one team championship and posted another high finish with partner Weston Bell, who is also a member at Musgrove Mill. The duo won the SCGA Partners Championship and The Member’s Club at Woodcreek in early spring by firing a tournament-low 16 under par. The two would pair up again to finish in a tie for second at the Players Four-Ball Championship at Columbia Country Club, finishing just four shots back of the winners.
In late May, Lutomski and Bell competed in the 2019 USGA Four-Ball Championship at Oregon’s Bandon Dunes.
“We have pretty similar games,” Lutomski said of Bell. “We’re both longer hitters and have similar iron lengths. We clubbed off each other a lot and (Bell) is really good at reading greens. It’s good to get a (SCGA) championship win, finally.
Todd tied Rick Cloninger and Frank Ford III, who had previously won the senior award in three consecutive years. Among the highlights during Todd’s award-winning campaign was a victory in the Lowcountry Senior Invitational and making the round of 32 in the USGA Senior Amateur.
Todd never finished outside the top-15 in any tournament during the 2018 season. He earned a top-five finish at the North-South Senior Championship. He finished fourth in the SCGA Mid-Am and made the quarterfinals in the Carolinas Four-Ball Championship.
Todd has been a stalwart in SCGA competitions for many years, having won multiple state Four-Ball Championships with his brother T.D. Todd — also a Musgrove Mill member — and in later years with Greenwood golfer Chip Whitt.
In 2017, Todd and his son, Neal, teamed up to win the SCGA Dudley-Sullivan Father-Son Championship. The previous year he paired up with his other son, Walt, to capture that same title. The combination of Walter and Walt — a Musgrove Mill member who played collegiate golf for Winthrop University — has won two Carolinas Golf Association Father-Son titles and two South Carolina Golf Association Father-Son events.
We alternate years with the boys,” said Todd Sr. “One year I will play with Walt in the SCGA tournament and Neal in the CGA Father-Son.”
Earlier in the year, Todd paired up with his nephew, Thomas Todd III, to claim the SCGA Mid-Am Four-Ball.
“Golf is a game for a lifetime, as well as for generations to play,” said Tallman. “These guys continue to demonstrate this, year in and year out."
Tallman added that the quality and challenge presented at Musgrove Mill prepares its members for high-level competition.
"Everyone at Musgrove Mill is so pleased with and rewarded by the outstanding play and results by our members in a wide variety of state, regional and national competitions,” Tallman said. “Our golf course was designed by Arnold Palmer during the heyday of his architectural career and Mr. Palmer considered it among his very best. It is certainly among his most critically acclaimed. The golf course that the King designed for us at Musgrove Mill is one of the most challenging and enjoyable you will find anywhere, which I believe is one of the main reasons it produces such great champions.”