The 94th PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course is just days away, and the PGA of America knows it will have the world’s best players, sold out crowds and a stunning venue to showcase.
What tournament organizers also hope and apparently believe they have is a viable plan to routinely get up to 30,000 spectators, volunteers and media members – a total of up to 210,000 people over the course of a week – on and off the course without a debacle.
The travel and spectator logistics have been considered one of the great hurdles to the Ocean Course hosting a major championship, and is likely the reason it hasn’t hosted a PGA Tour major up to now since its opening in 1991.
The issues are the course’s terrain and remote location. The sand dunes that surround many holes can be difficult for spectators to traverse, and the layout is on the far end of the island. The only road to the island is four lanes, and the course is still several miles down a narrow two-lane road once insideKiawahIsland’s gates. There are also few parking lots in the area.
While some other major venues have been able to accommodate 50,000 spectators, the PGA has limited ticket sales and spent two years creating a Traffic and Parking Plan.
The plan was drawn up and recently announced by the PGA Traffic and Safety Committee, which is comprised of 35 state, county and local officials.
Deputies in uniform will be posted at critical intersections on roads to and fromKiawahIsland, roving patrols on motorcycles will respond to traffic incidents along the travel routes, tow trucks will be on standby at multiple locations, and trash and recycling collection times will be adjusted.
Public parking will be located behind theFreshfieldsVillageShopping Centerbetween Kiawah andSeabrookIslandsat a cost of $10 per vehicle if purchased before July 15 and $20 thereafter. Enough acreage was cleared to park between 10,000 and 12,000 vehicles.
The PGA optimistically estimates delays of only 10 to 20 minutes during anticipated heavy traffic times between 7-11 a.m. and 4-7 p.m., and says the motor coach ride to the course will take only 20 minutes. The PGA will try to have all players staying on the island to avoid commuting issues.
Spectators are encouraged to use one of two travel routes to public parking: one from the South and West includes U.S. 17 to Main Road/Bohicket Road, and one from the North includes Maybank Highway to River Road to Betsy Kerrison Parkway