David Lauderdale

That moment at RBC Heritage when the VIPs had to wait in the storm longer than the ‘lesser folks’

Storms arrive at RBC Heritage suspending tournament play

Severe storms moved into the Lowcountry which suspended tournament play for Friday's RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing
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Severe storms moved into the Lowcountry which suspended tournament play for Friday's RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing

It’s not like we weren’t warned.

But there we were, drinking in the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing on Friday, standing in our finest pink matchy-matchy outfits, daring an approaching storm to approach.

Never mind that since Tuesday, every iPhone, television and probably Crayon box in the world had been showing angry red and yellow radar streaks coming to swallow South Carolina.

A lot of golf fans seized the opportunity to refuel at the Crazy Crab and the Quarterdeck in Harbour Town. Some even took advantage of outdoor seating beneath heavy oaks for one last order of pepper poppers before the Apocalypse.

If we stay put, they seemed to say, maybe it will go away. This after the fans and PGA Tour players were shooed off the Harbour Town Golf Links.

Let me share a few observations from inside the radar bands.

VIP is not so VIP.

When throngs of fans poured from the golf course at once, the so-called lesser folks had a smooth departure. They boarded big buses headed for the free general-spectator parking lot at Honey Horn. The Kelly Tours people were loading three or four buses at a time, swishing away babies in carriages and grannies in walkers 150 to 200 at a time, as if they’d practiced this gig for seven years, which they have.

For the VIPs, sorry folks. They were loaded into small buses for VIP lots within Sea Pines. So they had a long line, crawling at best as the sky turned gray and the trees started whipping. They were just about to get bird-dog wet when I bailed for the media tent, which was being evacuated for the lobby of the Harbour Town Inn.

And then it got dark.

Who could miss the sign from above when darkness falls in the middle of the day on Good Friday?

Good Friday symbolism aside, we’ve seen worse at the tournament.

After all, the Heritage is the South’s largest outdoor cocktail party. Key word: outdoor.

The most recent rain delay was in 2014, when the second round of the Heritage was washed out at 4:40 p.m.

In 1980 and 1972, rainouts meant the tournament had to be finished on Monday.

And we’ve had “human rain delays.” In 2001 and 2004, it took five playoff holes to finish, once on Monday morning.

But the granddaddy of them all came in 2007.

I recall that it was sunny Sunday afternoon, when the winds came. Even the people loaded with six highballs felt the skyboxes swaying.

The PGA Tour officials could barely stand on the 18th green when they went to check conditions.

And before they could get play halted, a limb fell on a volunteer working the 9th fairway, and luckily he lived to tell the story.

That was the year that Boo Weekley won his first tournament on tour in an eerie setting on Monday morning.

It was eerie because there were no fans to watch his all but miraculous chip shots on the 17th and 18th holes to edge Ernie Els.

It was eerie because ripping winds coming off Calibogue Sound blew so much sand from the bunkers into the 16th fairway that it looked like enough snow to call off school.

Maybe that angry wind is what gave a slight edge to the plain-talkin’, tobacco-chewin’, camo-wearin’, stomach-bulgin’ man named Boo.

He brought a 40 mph gust of fresh air to the rarefied air of multimillionaire golf.

We’ll see what the wind blows in this time. But, like daytime darkness on Good Friday, we have learned that the show will go on.

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