Heritage Tournament security revamped following Boston bombing

04/16/2013 9:04 PM

04/17/2013 11:45 AM

Although they are not sharing details, authorities say they have revamped security measures at this week's PGA Tour event on Hilton Head Island following Monday's bomb attack during the Boston Marathon.

Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner acknowledged new procedures are in place for the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing .

"I won't tell you what it is, but we have had conversations with the FBI and Homeland Security and we have reviewed what happened ... and we are of course evaluating the event here," he said Tuesday afternoon.

Tournament organizers expect more than 100,000 to attend the four-day tournament, which begins Thursday at Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines. That's in addition to hundreds of golfers, caddies and support staff and about 1,200 volunteers.

S.C. Highway Patrol officers, Beaufort County sheriff's deputies, Sea Pines security guards and the firm Securitas all provide security for the golf events.

Highway Patrol officers kept watch over spectator areas during Tuesday's practice round, and dozens of Securitas staffers checked credentials, monitored restricted areas and the course itself. Armed Sea Pines security guards patrolled on foot and bicycles.

"We always take security seriously," said Cary Kelley, executive vice president of Community Services Associates, which handles security in Sea Pines. "We are approaching this like we do every year, which is, we want everyone that comes here to have a great time and to be safe."

He declined to discuss specific measures in effect for the tournament. PGA Tour officials also declined to comment on security but affirmed the event was a safe place for fans, players and staff.

Three people were killed and at least 180 wounded Monday when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. This year's marathon had about 23,000 runners and tens of thousands of spectators, including some with Lowcountry ties.

Among them was John Farrell, a Massachusetts native and director of golf at Sea Pines.

"We had family and friends that were involved, none of whom were hurt physically," he said Tuesday. "There were a lot of emails amongst the family: 'Who was there, who wasn't, is everyone OK?' Very soon after it happened everyone had been heard from."

Bernadette Falletta, 43, of Fairfield, Conn., said incidents like the Boston bombings are cause for concern -- but not cause to stay home.

Falletta, who originally is from Boston, attended Tuesday's practice rounds with her two children and other relatives as part of a weeklong vacation on Hilton Head.

"Honestly, I don't think I would say, 'No, I am not going' " because of the possibility that something could happen, she said. "You just live with it."

PGA Tour golfer Jason Bohn said security isn't something he thinks about while playing.

"I personally have never thought about it, and I don't think many do. I just don't think people's brains function like that, to think there is going to be a tragedy," he said.

Another PGA Tour player, Scott Stallings, has a sister who watched the marathon from the finish line but left before the explosions.

He, too, believes golf tournaments are safe.

"If something was going to happen, it would have already happened," he said. "In a golf tournament, you're so spread out. You could worry about individuals, but the tour does a great job of protecting us."

Columnist David Lauderdale contributed to this report.

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