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South Carolina Rep. trying his best to save Heritage Classic

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The Heritage Classic won’t go quietly into the night. Not with South Carolina Rep. Bill Herbkersman leading a push to get a bill in place that would allow the state to lend aide to the tournament, in the event they can’t secure a sponsor for next year. But don’t get too excited; the bill is still in the infancy stage. As the Island Packet noted, the bill offers “no specific proposals; it merely summarizes the economic impact of Hilton Head Island’s PGA Tour event.”

Quite honestly, this isn’t something that should get the tournament committee thinking of an event past this year. There was already talk last year of the state considering the idea of giving the tournament a $10 million lifeline to survive, but it was the PGA Tour that came to the tournament’s rescue at the last second, throwing the event a TARP life vest to help it stay afloat. That was after South Carolina shot down the $10 million proposal before it ever had legs to stand on.

My guess is Herbkersman is proposing something along the lines of what was being considered last year, but this time he’s being clear where the money is going. As the Island Packet mentioned, last year’s $10 million proposal was going to be for promoting tourism, though most knew where the money was really going. I’m not sure it really matters if the bill is spun as something else or brought forward as a way to save the tournament, it’s going to be a tough sell.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has already said she doesn’t want taxpayer money going to help the tournament, so I’m not sure how Herbkersman expects to talk people into buying the bill. It’s wait and see at this point. If the tournament can’t secure the money and can’t find a sponsor, then they better hope the rumors of the WGC-Accenture Match Play moving to Harbour Town come true.


Written by Jonathan Wall

03/03/2011 at 7:30 am

Harbour Town on the verge of losing PGA Tour event

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This would appear to be the end of the road for one of longest running events on the PGA Tour. It’s been a shade under a year since I first chronicled The Heritage’s tournament plight, and the tournament has still failed to secure a tournament sponsor for this year’s event, leading many to believe this is going to be the last tour stop at the famed Harbour Town Golf Links.

After today’s Associated Press story, it would appear the situation is far from positive, after Ty Votaw gave the tournament an ultimatum: find a sponsor for 2012 or risk losing your event. (The The Heritage is going sponsor-less this year for the first time since 1986.)

Tournament director Steve Wilmot said it would cost about $7.6 million for a company to underwrite the event.

Votaw and Wilmot spoke Monday at the Heritage’s gathering in advance of the tournament, which will be played from April 21-24.

While commissioner Tim Finchem and the rest of the Ponte Vedra brass continue to tell everyone that the PGA Tour is positioned to succeed in the future, it doesn’t take much to find some chinks in the armor. The Heritage isn’t a major tour stop like Doral or Torrey Pines, two events that had to look for new title sponsors in the last year, but it’s one that’s been a staple on the schedule.

It’s a damn shame to see one of the tour’s oldest stops fall by the wayside, but it looks like there’s not much else they can do at the moment. There had been talk of the South Carolina legislature helping the tournament out with a $10 million lifeline in 2011; however, you can’t expect the state to help the tournament out on a yearly basis.

Without a title sponsor for this year and in 2012, it looks like the tour will have a gigantic hole to fill on its schedule.

Written by Jonathan Wall

02/28/2011 at 1:28 pm

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: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

12/08/2010 at 4:25 pm

Bob Hope Classic inks sponsor deal, breathes a huge sigh of relief

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GM’s return to the sponsorship picture at the end of last month signaled a potential return of automakers and financial institutions to the sponsorship picture. It’s no surprise that golf has been struggling to land title sponsors over the past year. With the departure of GM and other long-time sponsors from the sport, there were many people — myself included — that wondered if the sport could continue to have multi-million dollar purses with so many tournament looking for heavy financial hitter to keep the events afloat.

While Harbour Town — and other events — is still looking for a title sponsor, Doral (Cadillac) and the Bob Hope have landed title sponsors for 2011, giving golf hope that the sport may be well on its way to being out of the woods.

As the Associated Press reported, Franklin, Tenn., mortgage company Franklin America will be the new title sponsor for the event: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

12/08/2010 at 3:54 pm

European Tour uses Ryder Cup to push tax break

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If you haven’t noticed, the Ryder Cup is only a couple of months away. While most of us are knee-deep in PGA Championship coverage, the European Tour is still fighting the UK government over the current tax rules that apparently are causing golfers to pass over tournaments in the country.

An Associate Press article earlier today noted that the tax rules in the UK could deter some players from playing in the Ryder Cup. Seriously? You expect me to believe guys play in this event for money?

While I’m assuming the AP isn’t completely dense, you needn’t look any further than Anthony Kim to see this event is all about playing for pride and your country. To be honest, I’m pretty sure most players would give up prize money for a spot on the team.

Kim had the opportunity to fight through the pain at the U.S. and British Open; but he decided to err on the side of caution and have the thumb surgery so he could be ready for the Ryder Cup. He was that dead-set on playing in the event. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

08/10/2010 at 4:48 pm

Well Fargo returns from the shadows, puts name on Charlotte tour event

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Four months. That’s all the time it took Wells Fargo to decide that their name and brand was better off being attached to the Quail Hollow tour event, as opposed to being the silent backer of a tournament that some professionals have deemed the game’s “fifth major.”

The Associated Press reported that Wells Fargo will forgo putting Quail Hollow’s name on the event next year, opting to go with the Wells Fargo Championship in 2011.

To be honest, the name change makes a lot of sense. While the economy is still in a state of flux, the negative sentiment towards financial institutions backing golf tournaments has subsided. I’d assume that played a major role in the bank’s decision to return to a more prominent role with the event — especially since they’re picking up Wachovia’s tab.

Written by Jonathan Wall

08/04/2010 at 10:43 am

St. Jude Classic faces an uphill battle for survival

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There’s a battle brewing behind the scenes on the PGA Tour and it’s one that could force a long-time tour event to make a decision on the viability of continuing as a tour stop in 2011.

We’ve already touched on the issues plaguing one of the oldest stops on tour — the Verizon Heritage — just a couple of months ago. The tournament, like a number of other events, is without a title sponsor for the upcoming year.

That sort of news has become the norm on tour this year, as countless tournaments prepare for an uncertain future in a volatile market. Like the Heritage event, the St. Jude Classic is facing a similar situation. The event, which has been a staple on tour since 1958, is facing an uncertain future without a title sponsor for 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan Wall

06/22/2010 at 2:16 pm