The Loop

The star of this week's PGA Tour stop is a gigantic capsized cargo ship (Yes, really)

November 21, 2019

Stan Badz

Editor's note: This story originally ran during the 2019 RSM Classic. A year later, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Golden Ray has still yet to be completely removed from St. Simons Sound.

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — It's a boat! It's a plane! It's … actually, it's definitely a boat. A big, BIG boat.

The RSM Classic is the last official tournament on the PGA Tour schedule in 2019. It's also the first to feature a gigantic capsized cargo ship in plain view for tour pros and fans. Talk about fun for the whole family!

Of course, this was not intentional. It may sound like one of those European Tour gimmicks, but the Golden Ray really capsized off the Georgia coast on Sept. 8 and has been sitting there ever since. The cargo ship containing 4,200(!) cars has fallen and it can't get up. So if you were in the market for a Hyundai, you may have to be put on backorder.

For now, response crews are far more concerned with the ship's fuel than its cargo. Well, once the Coast Guard was able to rescue all 24 crew members. The New York Times reports about 315,000 gallons have been safely removed thanks to the efforts of more than 400 people and 70 other boats. Although some oil and chemicals have found their way into the St. Simons Sound, the area beaches haven't been closed, according to WGXA.TV.

And now, the 656-foot-long hull has become a backdrop to PGA Tour pros teeing off the 10th hole at Sea Island Golf Club's Plantation Course in the same way the lighthouse frames those hitting their approach shots on the famed 18th at Hilton Head's Harbour Town:


Majestic, right? Only, again, this wasn't intended to be part of Davis Love III's recent redesign to the golf course.

The Golden Ray has also become an instant landmark. Well, watermark. According to locals, you can take a boat tour from the nearby Port of Brunswick, which is one of the largest automobile ports in the country (the more you know!). The ship was bound for Baltimore after dropping off about 300 cars, but an onboard fire and loss of stability—the incident is still under investigation—caused pilot Jonathan Tennant to intentionally ground the vessel, something he has been praised for in recent weeks. So he's basically the Sully of the Seas. I hope he reads this and makes a fortune off t-shirts.


Sean Rayford

I asked caddie Fluff Cowan if he's seen anything like it. "Nope." And that's a man who has seen a lot of things in his day.

Another caddie, Don Gadberry, who loops for Brendon Todd, was a lot more talkative thanks to the ship knowledge he's picked up from watching "The Curse of Oak Island." He correctly notes the tedious process of first draining the ship and that it won't be able to be turned upright. Maybe it could be turned into a party boat if Don's boss wins a third consecutive start?

More importantly, Don did a great job talking up that History channel show. I was in desperate need of a good TV rec, so thanks for that. Anyway, back to the boat, which you can't miss from Sea Island Golf Club's clubhouse, practice area and several holes on the Plantation Course's back nine. Forget about the Golden Bear, everyone from fans to players are talking about the Golden Ray this week.

"I heard it might cost $800 million to move it," Bill Haas said.

Correct, Bill! Well, at least that's one estimate. Why so costly? Apparently, the ship will have to be dismantled and taken away piece by piece like the old Awesome Blossom app at Chili's. Only this will be much less enjoyable and much more timely.

The process might take months. It could even take a year. For at least one week, though, the Golden Ray will definitely be the star of the PGA Tour.