S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley met with Beaufort County residents at Hilton Head High School on March 21 and talked about her controversial Legislative Report Card, her ideas on school funding and her opposition to President Obama’s health care legislation. When asked about her promise to find a sponsor for Hilton Head’s Heritage golf tournament, however, Haley did not have the specific answer many locals wanted to hear.
“We won’t lose it,” Haley promised the approximately 200 people who came to “The Movement” town hall meeting. “We are going to find a sponsor.” How she plans to accomplish that, however, did not seem so clear.
“I go to the tournament every year. I love it and I don’t want to see it go away,” said Haley whose in-laws live in Hilton Head. Haley repeated that “can’t is not an option” and that she is on the phone every day talking about the tournament.
Haley is opposed to any tax payer dollars being used to fund the golf tournament and called an earlier proposal to use the state’s emergency fund for the tournament “a bad idea.”
Supporters of some type of government help point to the survey conducted by Clemson University’s International Institute for Tourism Research and Development that found the event had a total output attributable to visitor spending of $81.90 million during tournament week, April 12-18, 2010.
The importance of finding a replacement sponsor for Verizon, who pulled out as sponsor of the Heritage after the 2010 event, has been a priority for tournament directors for 18 months. Haley made it a priority for her director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Duane Parrish when she announced his appointment in January.
Parrish has worked in tourism for over 25 years and at the time of his appointment was Chairman of the South Carolina Hospitality Association and President of Premier Hospitality Group.
Although the 2010 tournament was the last for Verizon, the 2011 event was given a spot on the PGA TOUR schedule after Beaufort County and the City of Hilton Head pledged funds that will be added to Heritage Foundation reserves to fund the event.
PGA TOUR Vice President Ty Votaw said the search continues for a title sponsor for Hilton Head Island’s PGA Heritage when he addressed the media in Harbour Town, site of what could be the last Heritage played. He said finding that sponsor is “imperative” to the continuation of the event. Time to find that sponsor, however, is getting very short.
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