Bob Gillespie



Els for Autism: South African superstar brings fundraising tournament to Harbour Town

Posted 6/25/2012 11:10:00 AM

Ernie Els has always loved Harbour Town Golf Links, even when the site of the RBC Heritage didn’t always love him back. Five times the South African superstar – winner of two U.S. Opens and a British Open – has finished in the top 10 at the Heritage, including a frustrating second-place in 2007. But he’s never captured the event and coveted plaid jacket that goes with it.

But this fall – Sept. 10, to be precise – Els will play host to the “Els for Autism Golf Challenge,” being billed as the largest charity-driven golf tournament in history. The one-day, two-player event to aid the Els for Autism Foundation will offer a round at Harbour Town (named this year by PGA Tour players as their No. 2 favorite annual venue, trailing only Augusta National) and a chance to compete for great prizes.

“This will be our first time in South Carolina, and it’s going to be great,” said Els, whose son Ben is autistic, which inspired the South African star to head up a drive to cure the condition. The tournament program, in its second year, has raised $1.8 million.

“I didn’t get to too many (of the 30 tournaments held across the country) last year, but I’d like to get here,” Els said. “This is a good place to come.”

Participants will receives an Els for Autism gift bag, breakfast, a box lunch, practice at Harbour Town’s world-class practice facility, locker room access, all golf fees, plus a cocktail reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres and award presentation in the clubhouse after play.

And players will have two chances to reach the Els for Autism Grand Finale, Oct. 19-20 in Las Vegas. The winning low-net team at Harbour Town will qualify, as will a team that raises $10,000 for the charity.

Cost of the tournament, which begins at 8:30 a.m. with registration and a 10 a.m. shotgun start, is $600 per player. Participants are invited to stay at The Inn at Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island’s only Forbes Four Star, AAA Four Diamond hotel, which overlooks the first tee at the course.

To register for this unique event, click here.