Former S.C. Am champ Hightower dies

Bubba Hightower

Bubba Hightower, a legend in Lowcountry golf, died Friday at age 59 after battling several health issues.

“Bubba was bigger than life. He was a dear friend, a heck of a guy and a very giving person,” said Terry Florence, the general manager of Bulls Bay Golf Club where Hightower was a member.

A gifted athlete, Hightower grew up in Moncks Corner and played football and golf briefly at the University of South Carolina. Hightower’s biggest moment in golf came at age 19, when he won the South Carolina Amateur at Snee Farm Country Club.

During his younger days, he was noted for his length off the tee and he advanced to the regionals of the National Long Driving Championship. Hightower turned professional and played the mini-tours for a time. He made several attempts at qualifying for the PGA Tour, once missing by two shots. Hightower served as the club pro at Berkeley Country Club and at Santee before regaining his amateur status. He went on to win club championships at numerous area golf courses.

“He had a heart of gold and was one of the most unique people I ever met,” said Lea Anne Brown, who teamed with Hightower to win three South Carolina Mixed Team championships. “Bubba was a lot of fun and everybody loved him. When he entered a room, everybody knew he was there.”

Happ Lathrop, executive director of the South Carolina Golf Association, remembered Hightower for both his golf and his generosity.

“He always had a big heart,” Lathrop said. “He helped us with our junior golf program early on. Those who knew Bubba will never forget him.”

Hightower had worked with his family in Hightower Construction. The Hightower family established the Cooper Hightower Golf Scholarship at the College of Charleston, the school’s first fully endowed athletic scholarship.

Hightower’s funeral arrangements are being handled by Stuhrs Northwoods Chapel in North Charleston.