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  • Traffic Issues Could Prove Impediment To Kiawah Landing Future PGA Championships

    Traffic issues could be one impediment to Kiawah landing more marquee golf events

    While fans attending the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island had to deal with "epic traffic jams," golfers said that "they’d like to see another major" at the venue, according to Jeff Hartsell of the Charleston POST & COURIER. Golfer Phil Mickelson said, “This was really a good golf course for this tournament. I mean, it really hosted it well.” But Mickelson also "was aware of the trouble fans had to endure." He said, “We have some of the most loyal fans in golf when you hear what they had to go through. They had to park a long ways away, they had to take a big bus ride in, and you walk this difficult course. ... It’s not the easiest venue for them to watch and observe" (Charleston POST & COURIER, 8/13). In South Carolina, Bo Peterson writes, "PGA officials, players, sponsor and media were wowed by the visually stunning seashore Ocean Course, happy enough with the turnout and sales." Kiawah Island Golf Resort President Roger Warren is "eyeing a 2019 return of the tournament." But the venue's biggest issue "comes down to one gnarly problem ... roads." Warren said, "There were far too many moments when traffic wasn't good. That's an issue that's out of my hands. It's a community issue. We can't discount it (as a factor to win future tournament consideration). We have to deal with it. We can't avoid it." PGA Championship Dir Brett Sterba said, “The roadways will need to be improved." Peterson writes, "The narrow Johns Island roads have gotten much of the finger-pointing, but contributing to the road backups were backups getting in and out of the open field dirt or mud parking." Despite the problems, the "tricky feat of moving tens of thousands of people on and off a relatively remote barrier island was handled pretty well." When a problem arose, an answer "usually was found." Lack of free water "was a complaint that got louder as more people were treated for heat-related problems." Organizers "responded by allowing one unopened bottle, but then required people to tear off the labels if the water wasn't Aquafina." Warren: "Yes, it's a sponsor deal. It's naïve to think (it would be) any other way. Very few sporting events, or restaurants, allow people to bring in food or drink. I don't think that was an unreasonable expectation” (Charleston POST & COURIER, 8/13).

    A FEW HAZARDS ALONG THE WAY: In Charlotte, Ron Green Jr. writes golfers "were consistent in their praise of the course and the setup and it looked spectacular on television." But course officials "acknowledged there were serious traffic and parking problems that caused delays of up to four hours getting fans out Saturday after a thunderstorm. That will be a huge stumbling block for potential future events" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/13).GOLF WORLD'S Jim Moriarty writes the event "was a disaster with a good leader board." The PGA of America "will have to decide if it's a misadventure worth getting right. The pictures are beautiful. The golf course deserving. But the realities are daunting (GOLFWORLDMONDAY.com, 8/13). GOLF magazine analysts weighed in on whether the Ocean Course is "worthy of hosting another major." Gary Van Sickle: "It's a terrible course for spectators; there are few sight lines and it's tough to walk outside the ropes. Also, you can't get there from here." Alan Shipnuck: "The [British] Open wouldn't go back to Turnberry until they fixed the roads. Same thing here. The logistics are a nightmare and have to be solved to even consider a return." John Garrity: "Kiawah shouldn't get another major purely for logistical reasons. If somebody had died in yesterday's thunderstorms, the organizers would have had a hard time explaining their fantastical spectator-evacuation plan." Stephanie Wei: "It was AWFUL for spectators. First, they had to sit in traffic to park, then they had to take a shuttle to the golf course. Last night at 9:30 there was still an endless line of cars waiting to exit the lot" (GOLF.com, 8/12). Golf Channel's Gary Williams said, "Logistically, they have to make it better for the fans. To get 30,000 people, you have to be more considerate. I’m not saying they were inconsiderate. You have to do more. Two-and-a-half hour bus rides back to Charleston proper, it’s got to be easier for everybody” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 8/13). In Charlotte, Green noted it "took fans leaving from downtown Charleston approximately two hours to get to Kiawah Island (about 20 miles away) at mid-morning Friday, stacking up traffic going over one bridge out of the city and backing it up a few miles on the road leading into the resort" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/11).

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