From the Rough

Golf without discretion

Harbour Town tour event’s future remains cloudy; can a U.S. Open champion help the cause?

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An All-American at Clemson University, Lucas Glover knows a thing or two about golf in the Palmetto State. So when Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot went looking for a player to head this year’s sponsors’ outing, he natually went to the biggest name he could think of: PGA Tour player of the year Jim Furyk. But Furyk was defending his Chevron World Challenge title and had to decline.

As the States’ Bob Gillispie reported, Davis Love III also had to turn Wilmot down, due to a scheduling conflict. That’s when Wilmot received a call from an interested party:

Then, out of the blue, came a phone call. “Can I help you out?” 2009 U.S. Open champion and South Carolina native Lucas Glover asked.

So it was that the former Clemson All-American was at Harbour Town Golf Links on Monday to answer sponsors’ golf questions but mostly to talk up the Heritage. The tournament will be played in April without a title sponsor for the first time since its founding in 1969 after losing Verizon.

“(Glover) wanted to show his support,” Wilmot said. “He knows how important this tournament is to South Carolina, and to the PGA Tour.”

After Wilmot told about missing on Furyk and Love, Glover cracked: “I didn’t know I was the third choice.”

Whether he was the third choice or not didn’t matter; from the article, Glover appeared to be in good spirits, despite the looming cloud that’s still hanging over the event. The tournament has yet to find a title sponsor, and while Harbour Town does have a lifeline from the state of South Carolina, it’s one they’d rather not use.

Like many in the area, Glover realizes the event’s impact on the local economy: “… it’s our only pro sports event. I started realizing the economic impact, upwards of $90 million into our economy. We’re not a very rich state, so we can’t afford to lose that.”

While the money and the figures are staggering, the support from the players and a financially-sound backer, that’s willing to sign a multi-year title sponsor deal, are the only two things that will keep this event going.

To be honest, I’m shocked the event is still sponsor-less. While it does fall the week after the Masters, it’s a highly respected tour stop that brings in big names each year.

“So many guys treat this as their first family week of year, bring the family, the kids, go to the beach, good restaurants,” he said. “Guys love the golf course, and I feel the guys will very upset if we lost it.”

Would they be upset? I’d hope so. I’ve heard multiple players on tour complain in the past that they prefer older, more historic layouts to some of the bomb-and-gouge tracks that have been built in recent years. Here’s your chance to try and make a difference and help a great tour track.

Now who’s going to step up to the plate and make sure this event doesn’t disappear?


Written by Jonathan Wall

12/08/2010 at 4:25 pm

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