Verizon Heritage Golf Tournament Tees Off - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/09/07

Verizon Heritage Golf Tournament Tees Off

A canon is fired to symbolize the opening ceremonies of the Verizon Heritage. A canon is fired to symbolize the opening ceremonies of the Verizon Heritage.

Last week all eyes were on Augusta, but this week they're on Hilton Head Island as the 39th Annual Verizon Heritage Golf Tournament officially tees off.

The sounds of tradition emanated from the 18th green at Harbour Town Golf Links as the opening ceremonies of the 39th Annual Verizon Heritage Golf Tournament got underway. With the swing of a club and firing of the canon, the tournament officially kicked off with a bang.

"The community should be really proud of the fact we host one of the premier events in the entire country and there are very few events on the PGA Tour.  We're very lucky," said Tournament Director, Steve Wilmot.

One of the biggest things the tournament brings to the island is exposure, media exposure.

"We couldn't possibly buy the coverage we get on TV. Folks around the world are being able to see the beauty of Hilton Head Island and experience what's going on here," said Town of Hilton Head Island mayor Tom Peeples. "There's no question about it, the Heritage from the very beginning gave us national exposure back in 1969 and forward."

Each year, this event brings thousands of people to the island and pumps millions of dollars into the local economy. "Its upwards of $80 million in impact, the Heritage has on Hilton Head Island, so its just huge," said Mayor Peeples.

Not only that, but this tournament generates millions of dollars for local charities. "That's what its all about, for us to give away $1.9 million last year to charity, we hope to be near that if not top that," said Wilmot. "It's a lot of hard work, 53 weeks out of the year, it's truly a community event."

The tournament officially starts Thursday, however there are plenty of events leading up to the tournament.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com 

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