The Heritage Classic Foundation's decision to once again sell daily tickets to its golf tournament should boost attendance at the 2011 event, a potentially make-or-break year with no title sponsor in view.
If tournament officials want a strong showing from the community, this would be a good way to achieve it. Daily tickets will cost $50 each for Thursday and Sunday and $60 for Friday and Saturday. Weeklong passes start at $150 each.
Tournament director Steve Wilmot said organizers plan to sell a limited number of daily tickets each day. They don't know what that number is, but they will stop selling if they think they can't accommodate more people for a given day.
In an effort to better manage parking, the size of the gallery and revenue, the nonprofit foundation stopped selling daily passes in 1993.
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In 2009 and 2010, tournament officials continued to resist the idea of daily ticket sales to lure more local residents to the tournament even as they faced not selling out the tournament.
In 2009, Wilmot said, "We're sticking to our guns on that."
His reasoning was that as the PGA Tour event heads into the weekend, crowds typically pick up, so selling tickets for Friday, Saturday or Sunday wasn't a good option because of parking limits.
But this year, Wilmot describes it as "the right move at the right time."
Looking at recent financial reports, the foundation needed to do something different.
Revenue from ticket and patrons plan sales dropped 22 percent between 2008 and 2009, from $1.8 million to $1.4 million, according to the foundation's tax filings for those two years. The tax filing for 2010 isn't yet available.
In 2006 and in 2007, those sales reached more than $1.7 million.
The sale of tickets and patrons plans represented about 20 percent of total tournament revenue in 2009 and about 23 percent in 2008.
In 2011, more than ever, every dollar of revenue will count, particularly if the tournament has to turn to $2 million in tax money offered by the Town of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County.
We urge those who have been reluctant to commit to weeklong passes to give the daily tickets a try. The Heritage can use all the support this community can give.