To some it is, quite possibly, one of the prettiest sights on the Eastern seaboard. Draped by the candy cane striped lighthouse in the background and Calibogue Sound on your left, the 18th hole at Pete Dye’s famed Harbour Town Golf Links is a sight to see.
The Verizon Heritage, which has been played at Harbour Town since 1969, is one of the longest running events on tour played at the same site. Like Colonial Country Club, Harbour Town also represents one of a few classic layouts left on the PGA Tour schedule.
As is the case with most tour events, the Verizon Heritage (as it’s currently known) has changed sponsors numerous times. Verizon will be the sponsor through 2010, meaning the tournament committee will join the other nine PGA Tour tournaments currently looking for a new sponsor.
Unlike most, Harbour Town Golf Links has a parachute to open, should the event fail to find a sponsor by next year. But this “parachute” has a lot of people cringing and wondering if the tournament deserves the bailout.
Golf World reported in their March 29th issue that the South Carolina state legislature approved a $10 million loan for the tournament in the event that they can’t come up with a new sponsor for 2011.
South Carolina’s willingness to approve a loan for a golf tournament poses an interesting question; would other states consider offering a loan to a professional golf event in their own state if they failed to secure a sponsor for next year?
While I’d be willing to say most state wouldn’t consider the idea, it’s good to know that one took the first step towards helping out their hometown tournament. And if you’re wondering why South Carolina did it in the first place, you just need to look at the number of jobs the tournament provides.
The tournament supposedly supports 1,200 jobs and generates $87 million. But I’d be willing to bet that’s with a tournament sponsor leading the way each year.
Of course, this “bailout” of sorts is coming with a rash of criticism. “We’ve seen government bail out the bank industry, we’ve seen government bail out the auto industry, and now today we saw them bail out golf tournaments,” Republican state rep, Nikki Haley was quoted as saying to Golf World. “When is it gonna stop?”
Good question. I’m not sure it’s going to stop anytime soon. Regardless of how you may feel, don’t forget that this is a “loan,” and it’s only being given as a last resort to help the event.
Let’s just hope the event doesn’t need to use it at the end of the day.