Rodney Rickabaugh

Rodney Rickabaugh collects golf shoes in all kinds of colors. Warren Peper/Staff

If you’ve lived in the Lowcountry for any amount of time, then you’ve met at least one or two or 20 people from Ohio. I have no idea how many could possibly be left in the Buckeye State, but they sure do like it here.

I met one just recently, but my curiosity about this gentleman had little to do with his love of Ohio State. It had everything to do with his affinity for golf shoes.

Rodney Rickabaugh retired from the Ohio Department of Transportation and moved here permanently in 2011. He had a longtime friend on Seabrook Island from ... take a guess. That’s right, his friend was from Ohio and Rodney bought a modest townhouse on Johns Island. Like all retired guys with so much time on his hands, Rodney started playing golf at Seabrook. For a while, he was playing every day.

There was only one other small diversion from golf. Rodney developed a self-admitted weakness for buying golf shoes. I asked him recently how it all started and his immediate reply was, “Well, I’m not married, so there was nobody to tell me no.”

Just playing footsie

It started in the '80s, this foot-loose and fancy-free fascination with footwear. Rickabaugh saw a white pair of golf shoes with red trim. That was all it took to make him discard the brown or black shoes that were placed on his size 11 feet.

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Rodney Rickabaugh's rainbow of shoes

Rodney Rickabaugh's rainbow of golf shoes. Warren Peper/Staff

The innocent-enough red and white pair soon got to meet another pair with blue and silver tones. There’s an all red pair to honor his beloved Buckeyes. He even owns a near-fluorescent orange pair that you can see from two fairways away. “Those aren’t for Clemson,” he quickly adds, “those are for my Cleveland Browns.” Say what you will about Ohioans, they love their teams.

Some of the shoes have laces, some feature technology that tightens the shoe around the foot with no strings attached.

I saw shoes that were purple, yellow, tan and green. The collection once topped-out at 35. Today, he proudly admits to cutting back and now owns only 31 pairs. To be fair, I haven’t seen him in a couple days, so that number might have changed.

A niche and a nickname

Three years ago, Rodney decided he couldn’t play every single day, so he decided to seek a part-time job. He now works two afternoons in the golf shop at Wescott Plantation in North Charleston. To tell you the truth, I think this is purely to support his habit.

The job forces him away from one golf course and into the pro shop of another. And guess what — he probably gets an employee discount! Should we stage an intervention?

Choosing which pair to wear next is something of a dilemma. How are those life-defining moments resolved? “It all depends on what shirt is clean and pressed. I do my own laundry.”

As was mentioned earlier, finding a shoe to coordinate with virtually any shirt color is not really a problem.

So if you see this unassuming, somewhat bashful Buckeye anywhere soon, tell him you’re happy he’s among us. Since his Seabrook buddies hung a nickname on him a few years ago, he’s known from one end of the county to the other simply as “Shooz.”

Reach Warren at peperwarren@gmail.com