RBC Heritage

Daily tickets help boost sales, Heritage officials say

First-time spectators and a younger-than-usual crowd flocked to the 43rd Heritage on Thursday and Friday, due largely to daily ticket sales, officials said Friday.

The golf tournament at Harbour Town Golf links in Sea Pines is offering single-round passes this season for the first time in 15 years.

"We have twice as many people buying (walkup) tickets," said ticket director Chris Tobia. "We are meeting projected numbers every day. ... We expect we'll have good crowds through the weekend."

Tournament officials declined to say how many daily tickets they have sold.

Tobia said a surge of spectators is expected on Sunday, in part because of concerns it will be the tournament's last year, as organizers still struggle to find a title sponsor for the PGA Tour event.

"I think Sunday is going to be kind of a local day -- people who are working during the week and even the weekend and don't have time to get away, coming out and showing their support," he said.

The daily ticket sales apparently have been a hit with first-time tournament-goers and younger spectators who did not want or could not afford to take the plunge on a weekly pass that starts at $150. Daily tickets sell for $60 today and $50 Sunday.

"Daily ticket sales are tremendous, and it's the locals that are buying them," tournament director Steve Wilmot said. "And that's what we wanted."

Tobia said about 90 percent of the ticket orders received this week are from people who have never been to the Heritage.

Even with the sale of daily passes, Heritage organizers are limited in the number of spectators they can accommodate, largely because of parking.

Nonetheless, based on the success of sales so far, Tobia said the tournament will likely continue with daily tickets sales.

"I don't see it going away any time soon," Tobia said. "It's definitely a newfound market that we've opened up and would like to keep. It gives more people in the community an avenue to come out and show their support."

Matthew Flemming, 36 of Columbia bought a daily ticket Friday for his wife. He and his 12-year-old son came down Thursday, and the family will head back tonight.

"The kids have school, and we just needed a couple days," said Flemming, who hadn't been to the tournament in 10 years. It was his son's first time attending a professional golf tournament.

"It's great. You can come in for a day and see these guys up close and personal," he said. "Very rarely do we have time to spend four days and the means to get badges for four rounds because we have four kids. There's different things going on and it can put a strain on the family budget. The daily pass works a lot better. This way my son can see a lot of the big-name golfers and get autographs."