RBC Heritage announces tighter security for 2014

mmcnab@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 10, 2014 

Security checkpoints and a ban on large bags are among new security measures planned for the 2014 RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, the Heritage Classic Foundation announced Monday. The changes are being made to comply with stricter PGA Tour security requirements, the foundation said in a news release.

To comply with the new requirements, the Hilton Head Island golf tournament will limit the size of bags that are brought to the course by spectators and require security personnel to "wand" all spectators before they enter.

The new PGA Tour policies were first announced in October, in response to events such as the Boston Marathon bombings in April and heightened security requirements in other sports venues, said RBC Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot.

Wilmot said the foundation was still determining what the security changes would mean for "all aspects of the tournament" -- for example, whether the tournament will require more security and how it would affect volunteers and booths set up inside. This year's tournament is scheduled for April 14-20.

"We're evaluating whether we'll need more security personnel, because of the additional needs we'll have with more wanding," he said. "We're working to make it as pure and safe an experience as possible."

No large purses, backpacks, carrying cases, camera bags, chair bags or drawstring bags will be allowed into Harbour Town Golf Links during the tournament, the release said. Collapsible chairs can still be brought in, but lawn chairs and oversize ones will be prohibited.

Clear bags smaller than 12-by-6-by-12-inches and purses smaller than 6-by-6 inches will be allowed in, as will strollers and bags with necessary medical supplies, the release said. Spectators riding shuttle buses to the tournament will not be able to take prohibited items on the buses, the release said.

Tickets and badges must be displayed from lanyards the tournament will provide, the release said. Security personnel will check to make sure everyone on the course has a badge or ticket.

Wilmot and the Heritage are no strangers to heightened security, as policies were quickly changed in response to the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, which also was the first day of Heritage Week.

Authorities declined to say what extra precautions were taken at last year's tournament, but increased presence from the S.C. Highway Patrol, Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, Sea Pines and Securitas security guards was observed throughout the week in Sea Pines.

"We made those changes for unfortunate reasons," Wilmot said. "We reacted to (the marathon bombings)."

Wilmot didn't foresee the changes having an effect on attendance.

"We've had issues in the past like this with tickets, where people didn't like purchasing daily tickets or week-only tickets," he said. "It's not much different from other sports. I don't think there will be any backlash."

Attempts to reach the PGA Tour for comment Monday were unsuccessful.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

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