New locker room awaits Heritage golfers

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New locker room awaits Heritage golfers

BY VICKI NEEDHAM: Packet staff writer
Published Monday, April 9, 2001 in The Island Packet  |  533 Words  |  /IslandPacket/sports/local

When professional golfers from around the world descend upon Harbour Town Golf Links for the WorldCom Classic -- The Heritage of Golf, they will notice another important change besides the golf course's renovation -- improved locker rooms. 'During the first 31 years of the tournament, players were separated by name -- A-L and M-Z -- into the men's and women's locker rooms in the lobby of the clubhouse. 'Last year, the players moved into a new facility, which was built along with the new conference center, but the PGA Tour said it was still too small to accommodate the more than 130 players who participate in the Heritage. 'So tournament officials invested $500,000 to upgrade and widen the room, allowing for a more spacious area for players to talk on the phone, watch television, grab some food or socialize with fellow players, according to tournament director Steve Wilmot. 'Players who arrived Monday for practice rounds noticed and applauded the changes. '"Last year it was really cramped and there wasn't much space inside or outside your locker," said defending Heritage champion Stewart Cink. "Now there's more room and there are bigger lockers that are more spacious. In general it's just better." 'But while Cink was pleased to see a larger locker room, Scott Hoch didn't really notice. '"I haven't seen anything different from last year," Hoch said. "If there are any changes, I haven't noticed it. But the locker rooms are nice." 'The facility still is small compared to facilities at other events, but is a huge improvement from the days when the locker rooms weren't much bigger than an office cubicle. '"It's still a far cry from a lot of locker rooms," Wilmot said. "But we've increased the purse and felt this was another necessary investment in the players." 'The newest facility is accentuated by green walls and carpet and the dark wood of the lockers, which run the perimeter of the room and includes red, high-backed leather chairs along with several tables. 'During the tournament, the room is the one place on the course where the players can go for total privacy, away from fans and the media, said Harbour Town head professional John Farrell. 'But Farrell added that many of the players who come to Harbour Town usually stay within walking distance from the golf course and don't spend as much time in this locker room as they might at a tournament where they are staying in a hotel 20 to 30 minutes away from the course. '"We've addressed the issue and have done what we can do with the space in question," Wilmot said. 'Tournament officials have taken the concept of locker room privacy one step further with the Heritage House, a home on the 10th tee where players and their families can relax or get a meal 24 hours a day. '"No other event on the tour that I know of has a house for the players along the course," Wilmot said. "It's something special to the Heritage and what makes the players like Harbour Town so much." '<i>Staff writer Vicki Needham can be reached at 706-8120 or vneedham@islandpacket.com.</i>