RBC Heritage

Grabbing green?: Heritage officials on guard for souvenir seekers as tourney winds down

Even with plenty of tartan and Heritage merchandise on display, spectators at Harbour Town Golf Links always seem to want to take home a piece of the tournament that isn't for sale.

Tournament officials are gearing up as usual for fans who might be tempted to help themselves to banners, flags and signs.

Might the lust for Heritage gear be more keen during today's final round, knowing there is no guarantee the tournament will return next year?

Tournament spokeswoman Angela McSwain said organizers just won't know for sure until after the round is over. She doubts avid Heritage fans would take a handful of the 18th green until the tournament ends, after all.

But a little looting has been consistent enough over the years that an operations crew closely follows the last team on the course every day to pick up the flags, lest they be carried off.

After the final round, the crew loads pick-up trucks full of Heritage-related debris some spectators might consider keepsakes, she said.

Heritage marshal Ken Shaner said he can expect to be offered bribes for his "Quiet Please!" sign just about every time he walks off the course.

But he's not tempted to take the bait. And he said he closely guards the sign so a thief won't carry it off.

"I can't put it down," Shaner said, "I take mine home with me."

George Breed, director of security and community affairs for Sea Pines, said that while he's impressed with the fans' good behavior given the size of the crowd, there are measures in place to prevent losses.

"If it happens, knock on grass, we're prepared for it," Breed said. "We've got hundreds of eyes on the course."

Nothing is missing so far, he said.

As for memorabilia that comes with a price tag, souvenir hunters are snapping up items with the Heritage logo appearing for the first time without a corporate sponsor, vendors said.

Customers are sporting Heritage gear to broadcast" a sense of community," said Caroline Dennisson, retail manager of the official merchandise tent.

Its success could also be due to the fact that it will be a collector's item -- just like the signs and banners -- even if the tournament doesn't find a new title sponsor and doesn't return next year, said Adam Levine at a shop near the 18th hole.

"You may never see the Heritage logo without a corporate sponsor again," Levine said.