Recent parking changes at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing have some island businesses sinking holes-in-one while others are getting stuck in the bunkers.
With last year's car-parking change that requires tournament attendees to park at the north end's Honey Horn and be shuttled in -- a change that has now been made permanent -- businesses are having a Heritage week unlike years past.
South end bars and restaurants, like those in Coligny Plaza and at Harbour Town, say they are hurting.
Some north end shops and eateries, however, are seeing more customers than usual.
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"The reason, if you ask me, is because of the parking," said Alex Zarra, bar manager at Flatbread Grill in Coligny. "Moving the parking to the north end of the island has definitely hurt us and other nearby businesses because they aren't coming back down here after getting dropped off at their cars."
In previous years, spectators for the annual golf tournament were able to park in several lots located around the Sea Pines community. But after a deluge of rain at last year's Heritage, organizers moved parking to Honey Horn and decided to make the change permanent this year.
While many attendees are in favor of the change -- saying the 20 minute shuttle ride is shorter than the time they would have spent in traffic and parking in Sea Pines -- south end businesses are not the biggest fans.
Many could not provide exact numbers with Heritage still ongoing, but said the difference has been noticeable. The Cross Island Parkway toll numbers support that, with nearly 10,000 fewer people traveling through so far this year compared to last.
Zarra said Flatbread has been "winter slow" so far this week and is considering a closing time of 8 or 8:30 p.m. -- an hour earlier than it has been in recent weeks.
On Wednesday night, Reilley's Plaza, otherwise known as the triangle, was mostly empty. While that can partly be contributed to that evening's downpour, the shuttle change likely hasn't helped, Zarra said.
Marty Pellicci, manager of the Crazy Crab's Harbour Town location, said things also have been a little slower than usual. It is hard to compare to previous weeks with the spring break and Easter crowds, he said, but traffic has been slower than he'd expect.
"Things have been a little slower at night, I think because people have to catch the shuttle back," Pellicci said. The shuttles stop running an hour after play ends, and then a van service is available after that for $10 per person.
"But I was in Harris Teeter on the north end yesterday and it was slammed because everyone is getting in their cars up at Honey Horn and is going to what's nearby," Pellicci said.
The Skull Creek Boathouse hasn't seen significantly larger crowds so far this week compared to last year, manager Meggie Thomspon said Friday. She believes that largely is due to the weather and their location on the water, however, and expects that to change.
"We are looking for that extra push with the parking being up here and obviously are expecting more people for dinner in the next couple days when the biggest crowds come," Thompson said. "(Friday night) will be a big indicator for us of what the parking change will bring."
Many Heritage-goers returning from the tournament Friday afternoon said they would not be likely to return to the island's toe after being dropped off.
"Being from Bluffton, this (parking) is nice and convenient for us," said Richard Orzinga, attending his third Heritage. "We wouldn't drive back down toward Sea Pines, but might stop at a north end restaurant on the way home."
Greg and Lana Cheeseman, having attended more than 15 Heritages, agreed.
"You don't stop at those south end places on the way home anymore after taking the shuttles up here," Lana Cheesman said. "So I can see how the triangle and those other places would be struggling."
Another couple traveling from Michigan for the tournament said they might change where they stay in future years.
Dave and JoAnn Price, who are staying near the Sea Pines entrance, said it is frustrating to drive up to Honey Horn to be shuttled back down. The next time they attend, the two said they might consider a hotel or rental nearer the heel.
Not all businesses are hurting, however.
Tom Reilley of Reilley's Bar and Grill in the triangle said he has been very pleased with business so far this week, adding that he was interested to see if the new parking would affect their numbers.
Other businesses are trying to adjust to the new system.
Coligny Plaza, for example, is showing Heritage commercials on the screens in the shuttle buses and turning to social media:
The Crazy Crab's north end location has been doing some extra promotion and is having live entertainment this year to try to catch people as they leave the lot.
"We are trying to capitalize on this change and that fact that everyone will be up there," Pellicci said.
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