Jacksonville residents traveling to South Carolina for solar eclipse

Group marking historic event with nationwide golf tournament

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects , Scott Johnson - Reporter

SANTEE, SC - In less than 24 hours, the much-anticipated Great Solar Eclipse will have people across the country looking up at the sun to witness the historic event. The eclipse will cross over the entire United States -- starting in Oregon and tracking across 14 states to South Carolina.

While Jacksonville will see about 90 percent totality, many River City residents are traveling north to see the full solar eclipse, and News4Jax is joining them.

One group is at Lake Marion Golf Course in Santee, South Carolina, to mark Monday's eclipse with a first-of-its-kind virtual golf tournament with golfers taking part, not just in Santee, but from all across the country.

The Jacksonville-based business, LeaderboardKing, came up with the idea. Organizers have spent months planning and coordinating the virtual tournament Lights Out Across America with over 80 golf courses across the United States signed up -- including five courses in Jacksonville. 

"We just started planning about two months ago, actually," said Allen Beyer, one of the event organizers from Jacksonville. "We come here every year for a golf tournament, and it’s kind of where LeaderboardKing software started. It kind of started here in Santee."

The software was designed for live scoring, keeping track of how golfers are playing, no matter if they are in California, Connecticut, Florida or at the home base in Santee, South Carolina.

The tournament begins at 1 p.m. Eastern and some golfers will be using glow-in-the-dark golf balls in anticipation of the moon blocking the sun. Golfers are excited, knowing they likely won't get to take part in another round of golf like this one.

"What a great idea. We come up here all the time playing golf. Let’s just go play golf, see the eclipse and have a good time," said Jacksonville resident Steve Taylor, who is taking part in Monday's tournament on the Santee course.

The president of LeaderboardKing, Tom Sheridan, wants to make sure everyone who will be golfing during the eclipse have the needed, but hard-to-find, safety glasses.

"A lot of people are coming down and they don’t have them," said Sheridan, who has pitched a tent out front so he is easy to see as golfers arrive.  

He's selling the eclipse glasses for $10 a pair to golfers, with some locals even showing up after hearing he had some still available for sale.

There are still villas available at Lake Marion Golf Course to watch the eclipse. There are also spots still available if you want to take part in the golf tournament.  For more information, call Tom Sheridan at 904-629-1628.

If you are planning to hit the road to head north on I-95, traffic was smooth for our News4Jax crews early Sunday afternoon, but the Department of Transportation in South Carolina has posted digital signs on the interstate warning drivers to pay attention as traffic is expected to get heavy the closer it gets to Monday's eclipse.

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