Fans begin to file out of the RBC Heritage on Friday as storms advance to Hilton Head
Play at RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing golf tournament will resume at 4:30 p.m. after severe thunderstorms rolled through Hilton Head Island on Friday afternoon, according to RBC Heritage officials.
Shuttles to and from Harbour Town Golf Links have been restarted as of 3:45 p.m., RBC Heritage officials said.
Thousands of spectators at the golf tournament were quickly evacuated from the golf links ahead of a line of severe storms in Beaufort and Jasper counties around 12:30 p.m.
“Today’s storm resulted in no significant damage to structures in Beaufort County,” according to a statement from Maj. Bob Bromage of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. “There were reports of approximately 15 downed trees— several of which were on power lines—causing intermittent power outages and a few of which fell on parked vehicles. In addition, the storm caused outages to several traffic signals.”
PGA Tour suspended play around 12:50 p.m. and golf pros were shuttled off the course.
“I wouldn’t want to play in this wind anyway,” PGA Tour golf pro Adam Long, who was on the first hole as the course was being evacuated, said.
An hour later, a front of menacing clouds rolled over the Harbour Town Golf Links Clubhouse as PGA Tour officials stood on the patio.
Within moments, the rain went from sprinkling to a downpour over the empty greens and fairways.
The tornado watch for Jasper and Beaufort Counties has been lifted as of 4:20 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Evacuating Harbour Town Golf Links
Loud horns went off on the course at 12:48 p.m. as wind gusts worsened and the sky darkened. A sea of spectators began exiting the tournament and swarming the shuttles in Harbour Town.
The clubhouse at Harbour Town Golf Links was also evacuated.
People were being loaded onto the shuttle buses two and three at a time in an effort to get people out of Sea Pines quickly.
Mary Visich of Callawassie Island, loading onto bus with family, said, “We’re going to eat oysters at Fish Camp.”
Nick and Connie Dzendzel of Hilton Head Island were boarding bus to Honey Horn at 12:30 p.m.
“We we’re at the Heritage House having lunch and they said they were closing it up and asking everyone to leave,” Connie Dzendzel said.
All hospitality venues on the course have been closed, but the concession stands will bar service have the option to reopen.
The private venues will not reopen Friday after the storm passes because they will need to be inspected, according to Angela McSwain, marketing and communications director for the Heritage Classic Foundation.
Shuttles stopped bringing spectators to the course earlier in the afternoon.
Rosalie and Ed Deane from Massachusetts were on the course Friday afternoon as the evacuation message went out.
“Been to 25-30 golf tournaments and this has never happened to us. We’ve been to 12 heritages We haven’t seen anything like a storm where they evacuated the entire course. ... They told us it takes two hours to evacuate this course so everybody must be good for two hours.”
Chan Caudel of Atlanta also said this is the first time he’s seen anything like this at Heritage.
“We won’t be able to come back because this is our only day at Heritage,” he said of his family, which included Kirk, 18, and Charles, 15.
His sons said they were OK with leaving the tournament early as long “as long as Dustin Johnson comes in first.”
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.