Other Views

Foundation, PGA Tour doing all we can to secure future of Heritage

It is a little more than five months until the 2011 Heritage. Much has taken place and a lot of discussion over the status and future of the Heritage have occurred over the last year. I want to bring the community up to date on the efforts of the Heritage Classic Foundation and the PGA Tour in seeking a new title sponsor and on our efforts regarding the 2011 tournament.

First, ticket sales began Monday, as did our advertising and marketing campaign related to ticket and Pro-Am sales. Ticket sales are integral to the success of the tournament each year. There are several new ticket offerings, including a limited number of day-specific tickets, along with enhanced tickets for special venues that provide a great value and opportunity to enjoy the 2011 Heritage. Please go to our website, theheritagegolfsc.com, for details on all ticket options.

Another change this year is that there are additional Pro-Am playing spots available that would normally be taken by a title sponsor. This is a unique opportunity that we do not anticipate happening again. We also have dramatically adjusted the price for both the Monday and Wednesday Pro-Ams. If you ever dreamed of playing with the PGA Tour pros at Harbour Town under tournament conditions, this is your year to live the dream.

The support from the community has exceeded our expectations. Both the Town of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County have stepped forward with significant commitments to the success of the 2011 tournament. The Heritage Partners Program is off to a good start and provides an opportunity for the community to support the tournament and the Heritage Classic Foundation, even if you are unable to come to the tournament.

The Sea Pines Resort has committed $300,000 to help stage the tournament and help meet the Heritage Classic Foundation's commitments to the PGA Tour. Along with this financial support, the company is a partner in joint marketing efforts and other sales efforts. Other local businesses and individuals have also stepped up and increased their sponsorships or actually given money and operational support.

We have also been working on initiatives to involve the whole state in the Heritage as a business development tool. We have the most recognized professional sporting event in South Carolina, and it should be used to promote both tourism and business for the state. If we are successful in these initiatives, our local community and the Heritage could be a significant business development event.

The Heritage Classic Foundation and the PGA Tour are working diligently to find an appropriate corporate title sponsor for the Heritage for 2011 and beyond. As difficult as it seems to be in today's marketplace, our efforts continue every day. We and the tour are optimistic that we will be successful.

There have been discussions about multiple sponsors. The PGA Tour will work with us regarding multiple sponsors, however, that model has not been very successful for other events. If multiple sponsors are the only option, and we find willing corporations, the foundation will certainly do what it takes to make that option work.

I believe our entire community recognizes the importance of the Heritage as an economic driver and for marketing our region and the state of South Carolina. The foundation has a dedicated board of trustees and staff who also recognize and understand the importance of the event and are in overdrive preparing for the 2011 tournament and leaving no stone unturned in seeking a sponsor or sponsors that will secure the Heritage.

Nothing would make me happier than to announce a new corporate title sponsor. I am confident that day will come soon. Meanwhile, we have an opportunity to show the world what we can do in our community just as we have done many times before.

Regrettably, the foundation was unable to make additional charitable grants from the 2010 tournament. While nearly $1 million was donated to charity through various efforts associated with the 2010 Heritage, this is the first year the foundation was unable to distribute money from the profits of the tournament. Given the uncertainties of not having a title sponsor and the fact the foundation might be relying on public money in 2011, we decided the foundation must preserve as much money as possible to ensure the tournament's future. We certainly hope that a title sponsor or sponsors will be soon found so that the foundation can once again provide its traditional level of support for the many local and statewide charities that do such a great job in our community and in the state.

Thank you for your past, present and future support.