Golf

Sea Pines officials say Junior Heritage tournament won't be held anymore

mmccombs@islandpacket.comOctober 19, 2012 

The Sea Pines Junior Heritage is no more.

The golf tournament that began more than two decades ago as a high school team event and evolved into one of the top junior events in the country will not be held in 2013, according to Sea Pines Resort director of golf John Farrell.

"It's a good news-bad news thing," Farrell said. "It has a long, rich history that we're very proud of. The bad news, it's run its course."

According to Farrell, the decision to end the tournament was a joint one, made by himself, Sea Pines director of sports and operations Cary Corbitt, Heritage Classic Foundation chairman Simon Fraser and Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot.

Fraser and Wilmot could not be reached for comment.

Corbitt said that though the Junior Heritage "had a strong field every year," the Jones Cup Junior Invitational event in Sea Island, Ga., is held in the same schedule slot and had presented a challenge for the tournament.

"We have not fully decided that we are getting out of junior golf, but there will be no Junior Heritage this year," Corbitt said. "I will say that if we do something in the future, it will not have the look and the feel of the Junior Heritage."

Farrell went a step further, indicating that the decision to end the event came out of the desire to do something better.

"We hope to take the energies, moneys and efforts and focus them on another grow-the-game effort with a broader appeal to this community. It would be a joint effort between the Heritage Foundation and the resort," Farrell said. "It's been a great run. This has been an awesome event. But these are two different entities putting their heads together and saying, 'How can we best reach the youth of the game?' "

Farrell said the goal was to find a better way to use the time and energy and staff to grow the game of golf and promote Sea Pines, Heron Point, Harbour Town, the Heritage Classic Foundation and Hilton Head Island.

According to Farrell, there are "no victims" in the decision to end the tournament.

Since there is another top junior event in the same schedule slot, players who would have played the Junior Heritage still have an event to take part in. And, Farrell said, the Junior Heritage was usually a break-even event so there was very little money being handed out.

"A lot of good is going to come of (this decision)," Farrell said. "It's not like we're locking the doors and turning our backs.

Since the mid 1980s, golfers had been making their way to Hilton Head Island to take part in the Junior Heritage, and many went on to great professional golf careers.

The winners over the years have included the likes of Charles Howell III, Sean O'Hair, Kyle Stanley, Paula Creamer and Angela Park.

Farrell said he could not yet say what Sea Pines and the Heritage Classic Foundation had in mind for the future, but he would bet that in 2013, "the community will see what we've done."

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