Harbour Town Preps for PGA Tour Tournament After Hurricane Matthew

Hilton Head Island, SC (WLTX) - After Hurricane Matthew stormed through Hilton Head Island back in October of 2016, officials at Harbour Town Golf Links are now preparing for their annual PGA Tour Tournament.

It's no secret that Hilton Head Island is rich in it's golf history. One of the most iconic spots in the area is the lighthouse on the 18th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links in the Sea Pines Resort.

Harbour Town is the only course in South Carolina that hosts a PGA Tour Event, the RBC Heritage. It's traditionally held each year the week after the first major of the year, the Masters.

"Sea pines as a whole is a very special place," said Jeff Ellis,  a PGA Tour Professional.

When Hurricane Matthew hit back in 2016, many people like Ellis were concerned about the island.

"A little scared," said Ellis. "A little sad, especially when I found out the storm was coming through high tide."

Back in October of 2016, the hurricane stormed through the island knocking down four thousand trees, overturning boats, and damaging harbors.

"Trees are replaceable, lives are not," said John Farrell, the Director of Golf at Harbour Town.

The storm brought a lot of damage but Farrell knows it could have been much worse.

"We remain pretty grateful as we sit here now having just weathered Hurricane Matthew," said Farrell. "We had no loss of life."

Dealing with storm damage is something Farrell is used to. On his first year on the job back in 1989, Hurricane Hugo devastated the state of South Carolina.

"Hurricane Hugo, there was loss of life," said Farrell. "Property damage was so much worse and dramatic. I'm not minimizing what happened with Matthew but it wasn't no where near as dramatic or severe."

Hurricane Matthew caused over $341 million of damage in South Carolina alone. Over 2,800 homes were also affected on Hilton Head.

Although there's still construction that needs to be done in the harbor near the 18th hole and on the island, officials say the course is right no schedule to host the RBC Heritage in April.

"We're in great shape," said Farrell. "We were able to recover very quickly. This community rallied. The town, the Sea Pines Resort, the property owner's association, everybody rallied."

With help from the residents and from the state government, the course is actually ahead of schedule with preparing for the tournament. The community hopes there work will pay off next month.

I think everyone is excited because there was a fear and everyone thought we were in trouble because of the storm because of the hurricane and it's really a non factor," said Farrell. "Everybody's going to come here and say, 'You guys are great. You guys are rocking.'"

It's fun at the tournament that Farrell hopes will sweep players and fans like Jeff Ellis off their feet when they come in April.

"It's huge," said Ellis. "It's huge and I think they will never lose this event because of those two factors. The fact that it's after a major grind and you have this place Sea Pines that is so special to so many people on the tour and off the tour."

The RBC Heritage Tournament will be April the 10th through the 16th.  Coverage of the third and final rounds of the tournament will air right here on WLTX, April 15th and 16th.

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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