Hundreds of people trying to get back to their cars after the RBC Heritage golf tournament Saturday experienced the same long waits for shuttles as they did coming to Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines earlier in the day.
Julie Johnson, of Charleston, waited 45 minutes for a shuttle to get to the tournament and had been waiting an hour to leave at about 6 p.m. Saturday, still without the buses in sight.
“I think there need to be more buses,” Johnson said. “When I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go ... time is precious.”
Although the line wrapped all around Harbour Town, some people remained more optimistic about the whole ordeal.
Pat and Scott Butville of Hilton Head had been waiting in the line for about an hour before they could finally catch a glimpse of the buses.
“When you come and go at prime time this is what you get,” Scott said. “We expected this.”
The pair had come to the tournament by the shuttle at Honey Horn on Thursday and Friday as well, but said Saturday was by far the worst line so far.
“It is what it is. It’s a golf tournament on a small island,” Pat said.
Heritage officials have apologized for the lines, saying an unusually large number of people were trying to access the shuttles at the same time Saturday.
"We thought we were prepared, but everyone came at the same time," said Steve Wilmot, tournament director. "We are sorry for the inconvenience, and we want it to be a good experience for everyone."
A long line cut a serpentine path in Harbour Town on Saturday evening after the third round of play at the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing.
On the way in to Heritage on Saturday, a line of about around 500 people had extended unevenly around the parking lot, and those waiting toward the back were heard wondering whether Uber goes to Sea Pines. "I could walk there faster" and "Does anyone need a ticket?" could be overheard from the line.
While the total number of visitors to Harbour Town Golf Links was not immediately available Saturday, it was clear that the crowds were unusually larger this year.
Wilmot said the unexpected length of the crowd could have been for a number of reasons, including the nice weather on Saturday and expectations for severe weather Sunday.
Dustin Johnson is also drawing a large crowd, Wilmot said.
"Having the No. 1 player in the world is good for us," Wilmot said. "That is no question."
'We have never seen it like this'
Experienced tournament-goers said the wait for the shuttles was worse than in previous years.
Ed Kempf of Bluffton was not even halfway to the front of the line and had already waited 30 minutes.
"We have never seen it like this," he said. "We have seen it on the way back but not on the way to (Heritage)."
As Kempf spoke, he noted that there were no buses on site in that moment.
"You would think they would have the buses lined up," he said.
Leo Kroes of Hilton Head was waiting for the shuttle with friends visiting from France.
"I thought it was a good idea to take them to a golf tournament, until we got into the parking lot," he said, adding he had never seen shuttle service to the Heritage this backed up.
People at the front of the line said they had been waiting for about 45 minutes but, as of noon, the line had gotten much longer than it was when they had first arrived.
Wilmot said more buses were provided this year than in previous years. He said there were not any problems with the buses — sheer crowd size made the difference.
Officials want the entire experience to be an enjoyable one for attendees, Wilmot said. He said this includes travel to the tournament.
"Staging and timing are things we look at," Wilmot said. "We are always going to try to get better and be better. We will take away from this year and make it better next."