RBC Heritage COVID-19 cancellation leaving questions, issues for local charities, businesses


HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – The RBC Heritage is the latest domino to fall in local sports amid coronavirus concerns.

The PGA Tour announced Tuesday all tournaments through May 10 have now been canceled. The RBC Heritage was set for April 13 to 19 on Hilton Head Island.

Officials say the decision was made after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended canceling or postponing in-person events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.

“It is the right decision.”

That’s what tournament Director Steve Wilmot calls the cancellation, even if it was the toughest decision in his 34 years with the RBC Heritage.

“The (Heritage Classic) foundation did the right thing in supporting this decision, said Wilmot. “We are going to do the right thing moving forward.”

While the tournament will move forward. It leaves behind a lot of money and worries in its wake.

A study done just last year shows the heritage is responsible for $100 million in revenue for the area, and the Heritage Classic Foundation gave out more than $3 million to charities and in scholarships last year alone.

“The most important thing is the well being and safety of all,” continued Wilmot. “The world so we need to address that first and foremost and we will figure this stuff out.’

1200 volunteers who normally work the tournament are trying to figure out what to do next.

Local schools park cars, some help by selling concessions. 100% of that money going to support their sports or academic programs.

For agencies like Hilton Head Humane, they count on matching donations from the Foundation which helps feed the needy animals in the community

“We want to continue to help as many people in the community as possible with their animals,” said Hilton Head Humane Director Franny Gerthoffer. “So that’s where these monies at this fundraising juncture become so important because you can do so much more with more of course.”

Mike Kadar is the owner of Philly’s Deli on New Orleans road. He was counting on Heritage fan money to boost his bottom line. With the Coronavirus already cutting his business down to take out only, he’s worried the lack of golf business means he may not see next year’s tournament.

“As a small business, I’m very concerned about how long will it last. How long will we be under these provisions?” said Kadar. “Will I be able to pay my staff? will i be able to pay rent next month? I don’t know.”

“We certainly feel this is the right decision to make for the health and safety of everyone,” said RBC Heritage Tournament Director Steve Wilmot. “We remained optimistic as long as we could knowing the event generates more than $3 million dollars a year for local charities and has a yearly economic impact of $102 million for the state of South Carolina.”

Individual ticket purchases will be refunded within 30 days. The Heritage Classic Foundation will also be working with volunteers to refund or defer registration fees and Heritage Classic Foundation charitable matching programs will be suspended until further notice.

Organizers said the RBC Heritage will be back April 12 to 18 next year with “renewed energy to generate revenue for the community.”

The Korn Ferry Tour’s Savannah Golf Championship, the Players Championship, the Valspar Championship, the World Golf Championship, the Corales Club Championship, the Valero Texas Open and The Masters were also canceled to due COVID-19.

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