Play is spread over the Cliffs Valley course and The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards for the first two rounds before Cliffs Valley takes over on the weekend.
Jack Nicklaus, playing in this tournament for the second consecutive year, opened with a 2-under-par 69 at Keowe Vineyards. This event is a pro-am so Nicklaus came with his sons for the second time.
Nicklaus' involvement spurred Gary Player to enter this week, but he did not fare as well as Nicklaus. Player carded a 2-over-par 73, also at the Keowe Vineyards course.
Bertsch, the 2000 winner of this event, began on the second nine at Cliffs Valley and collected three birdies on his first nine, all from inside 10 feet. At the par-3 second, Bertsch hit a 7-iron to 10 feet to set up his fourth birdie of the round.
At the 499-yard, par-5 sixth, Bertsch knocked a 7-wood inside 3 feet and rolled home the eagle putt to reach 6 under par. He drained a 6-footer for birdie at the eighth to take the clubhouse lead.
'It was a great start to the tournament,' said Bertsch, who took third place last week at the Rheem Classic. 'I kept giving myself chances for birdie. I hit the ball solid.'
Carolan, like Bertsch, started on the back nine at Cliffs Valley and recorded three birdies through his first nine. He birdied No. 1, then rolled home a 15-foot birdie putt at the fifth.
Carolan two-putted from 20 feet for birdie at the sixth and capped off three birdies in a row with 14-footer at the seventh.
'I'm very pleased,' said Carolan, an Australian. 'I made some putts today. Even if we don't have a good day tomorrow, we'll still be in a good spot.'
Hughes played the Cliffs the way it was designed and only tallied two birdies on the front side, five and nine. He caught fire after the turn with three birdies in a row from the 10th, including a 30-footer at the par-3 11th.
Hughes birdied the 14th and 17th holes to get into a share of the lead.
'It was a good score,' said Hughes, who hit all 18 greens in regulation on Thursday. 'I drove it straight on every hole. I had a good feel going all day with my swing.'
Dave Cunningham, Robert Garrigus and Ahmad Bateman are tied for fourth place after posting opening rounds of 6-under-par 66 at the Cliffs Valley track.