'Iron Man of Charleston' Philip Simmons Designs Trophy for Ginn TributeFor Immediate Release, May 2007
‘IRON MAN OF CHARLESTON’ PHILIP SIMMONS DESIGNS TROPHY
FOR GINN TRIBUTE HOSTED BY ANNIKA
94-YEAR-OLD WROUGHT-IRON VIRTUOSO CREATES UNIQUE WORK OF ART
He is literally and figuratively the Iron Man of Charleston, an artisan and civic icon in the true sense of the words. Now, at the age of 94 and no longer hammering out his masterpieces on the anvil, Philip Simmons designs, consults and collaborates with his cousin and nephew who operate one of the most famous blacksmith shops in the country.
This work of art, an iron pineapple, is a symbol of hospitality in the South and a symbol of the inaugural champion of the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA. As is customary with all Ginn Resorts golf events, the champion’s trophy combines artistry with local flavor, keeping in mind Ginn Resorts’ commitment to hospitality.
When it comes to local flavor and artistry in Charleston, the conversation inevitably comes back to Philip Simmons, whose ornamental, wrought-iron handiwork can be seen on gates, fences, balconies and window grilles all over Charleston. Jill Ford the 2007 chairwoman of the American Heart Assn. Art and Wine Gala in Charleston, came up with the idea to commission Simmons to create the trophy for the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA, which is May 28-June 3 at the Arnold Palmer-designed RiverTowne Country Club.
“There is so much culture and history of the arts here in Charleston, that it was only natural to select something and someone that has had an impact on this community and region. The Tribute tournament honors the past as well as the future and we feel that this trophy honors a piece of Charleston's history and tradition,” Tournament Director Kevin Krisle said.
The 33-inch-by-15-inch pineapple is the first trophy the Simmons shop has created in his lengthy career. He created it in collaboration with his cousin and protégé’ Joseph Pringle, who still considers himself Simmons’ apprentice though he has worked in the shop for more than 40 years.
"I can't remember making a pineapple before. This is a first for us,” Simmons said. “We made about four or five sketches before coming up with a design that would work. I'm pleased with the outcome – it looks like a pineapple!"
That shouldn’t be surprising, because whatever Simmons created with his hands or on paper usually brilliantly fits the image created in his head. His creativity with wrought iron can be seen on the grounds of the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion and the Matthew J. Perry Federal Courthouse in Columbia, the South Carolina State Museum and the Richland County Public Library. There is also the gate at Liberty Square, the Charleston Visitor Center, the gazebo in the main lobby of the Charleston International Airport and the Philip Simmons Park on Daniel Island, where Simmons was born on June 9, 1912.
The City of Charleston is a museum of Simmons’ work. A humble man who didn’t see himself as an artist, but as a craftsman who was earning a living for his family, he didn’t sign his early works. The fact his iron touch was so prolific and yielded more than 600 pieces during his active years of practice made it necessary to identify his creations. To accomplish that task, Simmons is being driven around the city monthly by a film crew that is documenting his works.
“We have to double-track, since over the past years, a lot of buildings have been changed or taken down,” said Rossie Colter, project administrator of the Philip Simmons Foundation in Charleston. “Some people have renovated the homes and taken off the iron work or donated it to the American College of Building Arts. Some people have taken his work with them when they’ve sold the house.”
And that’s just in South Carolina. Simmons’ most famous work, the “Star and Fish Gate,” was purchased by the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. It’s a work that Simmons designed during a flight to Washington.
“He calls it his favorite because he used less tools to create it,” Colter said. “He had 30 days to come up with the design and when he got on the plane to fly to Washington he couldn’t come up with it. When he got off the plane, he had the design.”
Other commissions of his work can be found in such diverse locales as the Atlanta History Center and the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, N.M. The Atlanta piece was made for the center’s opening that coincided with the opening of the 1996 Olympic Games. It features the Olympic rings and animals native to the low country.
In 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Simmons its National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor the United States can bestow on a traditional artist. In 1993, he was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame and five years later, then-South Carolina Governor David Beasley presented Simmons with the Order of the Palmetto, the highest award a South Carolinian can receive.
Today, Simmons is semi-retired, living on the eastside of a city he has called home since arriving in the city in 1919. He is content with projects like illustrating an alphabet coloring book for children, creating special works like the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA trophy and passing on eight decades of artistic brilliance to proteges’ like Pringle and Simmons’ nephew, Carlton Simmons, who work out of the same tin-framed workshop where Simmons learned his craft from an ex-slave by the name of Peter Simmons, who was not related.
“Philip Simmons is a poet of ironwork,” said John Paul Huguley, the founder of the American College of the Building Arts in Charleston. “His ability to endow raw iron with pure lyricism is known and admired throughout, not only in South Carolina, but as evidenced by his many honors and awards, he is recognized in all of America.”
Tickets can be purchased by visiting the official Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA website at www.ginntribute.com, or by calling the official Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA ticket outlet at 888-695-0888. Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. For additional tournament information, please visit the website or contact the tournament office at 843-849-2380.
Annika Sorenstam will host the world-class players at the Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA, all competing for the first-place prize of $390,000 out of a $2.6 million purse, which is the third-largest on the 2007 LPGA schedule. The Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA will be televised nationally by the Golf Channel Thursday and Friday and by NBC Sports on Saturday and Sunday.
The 72-hole event will also focus on a tribute to an LPGA great each year. Bettye Danoff, Marlene Bauer Hagge, Betty Jameson, Marilynn Smith, Shirley Spork and Louise Suggs will receive special recognition on Tuesday, May 29 at a ceremony honoring the first Tributees. The ceremony will take place at the Charleston Place Hotel
The Arnold Palmer-designed course at RiverTowne Country Club that will test the skills of the greatest female players in the world was named the 2004 South Carolina Course of the Year by the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association. The 18-hole, par 72 layout measures 6,679 yards from the medal tees.
Ginn Resorts commissioned golf legend Arnold Palmer to develop Charleston’s first Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course. The 18-hole championship course includes 13 holes that wind along the Wando River and Horlbeck Creek. The five sets of tees on this 7,200-yard venue provide spectacular challenges that are meant to deliver a memorable golfing experience to every player of the game. RiverTowne Country Club received a 4.5-star rating in Golf Digest’s Places to Play in 2005.
About Ginn Resorts
Ginn Resorts is a privately-held resort development and management firm specializing exclusive leisure lifestyle and vacation destination communities. The firm owns and operates communities across the United States and the Caribbean. Headquartered in Celebration, Fla., the firm’s principals have more than three decades of experience in creating large-scale, master-planned resorts and recreation-oriented communities. For more information, visit www.ginnresorts.com.
About Ginn Sports Entertainment, LLC
Ginn Sports Entertainment, LLC (GSE) was created in 2006 by Bobby Ginn, president and Chief Executive Officer of Ginn Resorts, and directed by GSE president and Chief Operating Officer Kent Atherton. GSE is dedicated to the organization, production and marketing of Ginn Resorts professional sports properties in golf and auto racing. Currently, GSE serves as the event organizer and title sponsor to two tournaments on the LPGA Tour (the Ginn Open at Ginn Reunion Resort near Orlando, FL and the Ginn Tribute Hosted by Annika at the RiverTowne Country Club course at Ginn Belvidere Resort on Charleston Harbor in SC) and one tournament on the Champions Tour (the Ginn Championship at Hammock Beach at Ocean Hammock Golf Club in Palm Coast, FL). Additionally, GSE hosts the Champions Tour’s ACE Group Classic at Quail West, a Ginn Resorts private community in Naples, FL and has sponsor endorsements with professional golfers Annika Sorenstam, Cristie Kerr, May Wood, Lucas Glover, Lee Janzen, Ken Duke and Brian Gay. GSE also manages sponsorship marketing and hospitality on behalf of Ginn Racing, Bobby Ginn’s NASCAR team, which next year includes Nextel Cup drivers Mark Martin (01), Joe Nemechek (13), Sterling Marlin (14) and Regan Smith who will also drive the Ginn Busch Series car, along with Kraig Kinser, who competes in the Craftsman Truck Series and Late Model/ARCA drivers Rick Carmichael and Jesus Hernandez. For more updates and information on Ginn Sports Entertainment, visit www.ginnsportsentertainment.com.
About the LPGA
Featuring the world's best women golfers, the LPGA's membership includes touring, teaching and club professionals. The LPGA Tour in 2006 features 36 events, with total prize money of more than $51 million. Since 1981, the LPGA and its tournaments have raised approximately $170 million for charity. From the dreams of its 13 founders in 1950, the LPGA has evolved into the world's pre-eminent women's professional sports organization. The LPGA has grown from its roots as a playing tour into a non-profit organization involved in every facet of golf. In addition to the LPGA Tour members, the LPGA membership includes nearly 1,200 certified Teaching and Club Professionals (T&CP) who serve the golf industry in teaching, coaching and management positions.
The LPGA T&CP member programs focus on increasing the involvement of women, girls and youth in golf, as well as contribute to the growth of the sport overall. The LPGA is headquartered in Daytona Beach, Fla. For more information on the LPGA, log on to www.LPGA.com.
About IMG and IMG Media
IMG is the world’s premier Sports, Entertainment and Media Company. IMG is a diversified global business with two major business segments: IMG Sports & Entertainment, and IMG Media. IMG employs over 2,300 people in 30 countries. Forstmann Little & Co. purchased IMG in 2004. More information about IMG is available at www.imgworld.com and www.darlowsmithson.com.