VIDEO: Hargray hides the wires for RBC Heritage's tech demands

bheffernan@islandpacket.comApril 13, 2013 

nwsHERITAGETECH04xx13sw01

Hargray installation business specialist Bryan Rose, right, and installation repair technician Chris Nichols, left, look over the copper wires contained in one of the networking pedestals Monday morning near the No. 18 green at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island.

SARAH WELLIVER — Staff photo Buy Photo



  • Cellphones allowed, with restrictions: Cellphones will be allowed at the tournament this year, but keep them on vibrate or silent. Taking photos or videos is not allowed, and talking on the phone is restricted to specific areas.



  • *Streaming coverage: Besides television coverage of the Heritage by CBS and The Golf Channel, live feeds also will be available for streaming via the PGA Tour's website www.pgatour.com or its mobile app found at www.pgatour.com/mobile/wireless.html



  • Haley to visit: Gov. Nikki Haley will participate in the Heritage's parade and opening ceremonies, which begin at noon Monday at Harbour Town.

  • 30,500

    Number of feet of telephone and high-speed data cables Hargray has installed throughout the course.



    307.2

    Average yardage of drives by Nicolas Colsaerts, the longest hitter on the PGA Tour.



    33

    Number of drives Colsaerts would have to hit to match the cables' distance.




This week, about 100,000 spectators will follow the drama of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing by walking along the fairways and greens of Harbour Town Golf Links.

But millions more will track Hilton Head Island's annual PGA Tour event from the comfort of their couches. Or with the convenience of their cellphones.

Before The Golf Channel and CBS Sports can welcome them to Sea Pines via high-definition television or live streaming, Hargray Communications had to lay 30,500 feet of cable of various sorts -- far longer than the 7,101-yard Pete Dye-designed course all those wires will help showcase.

"We're not behind the camera, and we're not (CBS commentator) Jim Nantz, but to get Jim Nantz to the world, it runs across our network," said Andrew Rein, Hargray's vice president of sales and marketing.

A team of five Hargray employees spent more than 1,000 hours in the weeks leading to the tournament. They installed 15,000 feet of telephone and high-speed data cables to supplement about 15,500 feet of cable laid in previous years. The network will support 15 hours of combined coverage by CBS and The Golf Channel, a media tent hosting 87 news organizations, and tens of thousands of credit-card transactions in the merchandise tents.

The team built a network large enough to support a small town in little more than a month, said Gwynne Lastinger, Hargray director of operations. If they did the job well, viewers and visitors will hardly notice the work. Nearly six miles of cable have been tossed, tucked and torpedoed out of view throughout the course.

Most of those miles of cable are hiding in the trees. The cables are clipped to a weighted ball and hurled underhanded over the highest reachable branch, said Henry McShane of Hargray, who helped spread the network.

The rest are either tucked by hand just beneath the surface of the sod or burrowed deeper through a process called "missile boring" that creates tunnels for the cables.

"If you're walking through and you see our wire, you're either looking really hard for it -- and that was your goal, to find it -- or we didn't do a good job," said McShane.

Hargray has partnered with and sponsored the tournament since its 1969 debut, but you need not look that far back in history to see how communication and technology at the event have changed.

Consider that a decade ago -- "before everybody had a cellphone," McShane said -- title sponsor MCI, a long-distance carrier, had a promotional tent near the 15th hole offering free long-distance calls on 30 to 40 land-line phones, Hargray officials said.

"So you could get a bottle of water and call your mom in Alaska and say, 'Hey mom, I'm at the tournament at Harbour Town,' " McShane said.

This year, tournament-goers can say "hi" to mom and the rest of the world on the free WiFi offered by Hargray in the Heritage Lawn, an interactive spectator area near the 17th green and 18th tee box. Concessions, hospitality tents, sponsor expos, a Jumbotron broadcasting the tournament and a concert Saturday evening will also be offered in that area.

Wireless Internet also will be provided in private skyboxes along the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th holes.

Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at twitter.com/IPBG_Brian.

Related content:

Bigger images, bigger field planned for Heritage, Dec. 4, 2012

Heritage organizers hope more people pedal to tournament, March 10, 2013

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service