Beaufort News

Hilton Head, tournament officials meet in Columbia on search for Heritage sponsor

Hilton Head Island Mayor Drew Laughlin and town manager Steve Riley met Tuesday in Columbia with Gov. Nikki Haley, Beaufort County legislators, state tourism and commerce officials, and PGA Tour representatives to discuss efforts to secure a title sponsor for the Heritage golf tournament.

Riley said Haley called the meeting "to know who the players are."

Beaufort County Councilman Stu Rodman; State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort; State Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head; Simon Fraser, chairman of the board of trustees for the Heritage Classic Foundation; Steve Wilmot, tournament director; S.C. Commerce Secretary Robert Hitt; and Duane Parrish, Haley's nominee for the state tourism department, attended the meeting, Riley said.

PGA Tour officials participated by phone, he said.

Laughlin said "there was a lot of horse power in the room," but the meeting resulted in no specific solution on securing a sponsor.

Riley said Haley reiterated her administration's emphasis on finding a title sponsor. She said doing so will be the top priority of the state's tourism department.

"We asked if there was a way for the (state tourism department) or state agencies with promotional budgets to buy some TV ads during the tournament and, in effect, be a sponsor, with a return on their investment through the advertising exposure," Riley said. "They said they would consider it but (made) no commitment."

Riley said most of the meeting was spent listening to PGA Tour officials answer questions and explain how the tournament's advertising, promotions and sponsorships work.

"The PGA Tour continues to talk to potential sponsors, and each party will continue to work their parts of the puzzle," Riley said.

Laughlin was encouraged by the meeting.

"They seem to be willing to (put) the power of their office into getting this done," he said.