As play begins, RBC Heritage fans met with tighter security

dburley@islandpacket.comApril 17, 2014 

security

Security guards use wands on patrons before they board buses April 17, 2014, to the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing at Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

DAN BURLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

Tightened security at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing made a smooth debut Thursday as tournament play began.

Most golf fans confronted with the new rules, including a limit on the size of bags, didn't seem to mind as they stopped at security checkpoints outside the entrance to Harbour Town Golf Links.

And ticket holders said measures requiring each spectator be swept with a metal-detecting wand weren't over-the-top.

"I understand where they are coming from" with the new rules, said Jenny Wilson. "It really doesn't make a difference to me."

Wilson stood among about 50 people Thursday afternoon in a Sea Pines parking lot, waiting in line for shuttle buses headed to the golf course.

While fans waited, security guards wanded them and warned them about the new bag rules. Several fans were told to return large bags to their cars. Others were cautioned that their purses might not pass security at the tournament entrance.

Under the new rules, no bags larger than a 6-by-6-inch purse are allowed. Clear plastic or vinyl bags smaller than 12-by-6-by-12-inches are allowed

Among the popular items outlawed are large purses, carrying cases, backpacks, camera bags and portable chair bags, according to the rules.

The changes were put in place to comply with PGA Tour requirements in response to events such as the Boston Marathon bombings last April. Recently, the National Football League adopted a similar policy.

In addition to the tour requirements, Sea Pines safety and security director Toby McSwain has 12 security agencies policing the tournament, including members of a private firm, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

"People seem to be aware and are really cooperating," McSwain said of the new rules.

One change McSwain and tournament director Steve Wilmot made Thursday was to wand spectators while they waited for shuttles rather than at the tournament entrance.

McSwain said checking ticket holders at the entrance Monday caused a back-up about 25 feet behind the first hole tee box.

"We were having to tell people to be quiet, and it really wasn't working," he said.

Not everyone was pleased with the security changes.

After being checked by a metal detector while waiting for a shuttle Thursday, Lisa Nelson was warned security at the tournament entrance might ask her to return her medium-sized purse to her car.

She called the rules "a pain," and said she was only carrying a cellphone, keys and a bag of Goldfish crackers in her black-and-white bag.

"I think I'll just risk it," she said and climbed on the bus.

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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