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PGA Golf Celebrates 50 years of Lowcountry Heritage

Over the past 50 years the Professional Golf Association has visited Hilton Head Island in spring, resulting in traditions that are now a part of golf history. The RBC Heritage presented by Boeing is the only PGA event in South Carolina, and while sponsor names have changed over the years, the Heritage slogan remains. The lighthouse at Harbour Town has been wrapped in their trademark plaid pattern for all to see, and the field of players will include many past champions returning to support the heritage of golf in the Lowcountry.

Dustin Johnson returns to Hilton Head this year, he holds the number one ranking in golf, and is a South Carolina native. The 2017 winner Wesley Bryan is also an S.C. native and he leads a list of past champions that includes Matt Kuchar and five-time winner Davis Love III. England’s Luke Donald has finished in second place three of the past four years, and would love to taste victory in 2018, but has piled up the earnings with his consistent efforts. Other players to watch for are Marc Leishman, Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner, Ian Poulter, Webb Simpson and Jason Dufner.

The blueprint for success at the RBC Heritage calls for controlled golf shots to navigate the live oaks that surround the golf links where par is a score of 71. PGA Tour pros that are known for power and long tee shots are handcuffed by the twisting layout at Harbour Town, placing a premium on a strategic short game to set up short putts for birdie. In 2017 fans could see that Hurricane Matthew had taken a toll on many of the trees in the Sea Pines Resort, but the challenge of playing the course remains similar to 50 years ago. TV coverage begins on Thursday and Friday on the Golf Channel, and continues on CBS for the Saturday and Sunday rounds.

Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser established the Heritage tournament in 1969 and Arnold Palmer was the first winner, followed by other stars of the game like Jack Niklaus, Tom Watson and Greg Norman. This tourney remains popular with players since it follows the pressure of a major tournament at The Masters, and fans appreciate the close confines of the course that allows for great viewing. Over the past 50 years the Heritage Classic Foundation has utilized all the support to raise millions for local charities.

New for the 2018 RBC Heritage, this is now a carbon neutral event in an effort to go green. Coca-cola is setting up 100 recycling stations and concession sales are using biodegradable packaging, while Palmetto Electric has purchased certified green power for the entire week. The parking plan for 2018 remains unchanged, with fans riding a shuttle bus to the golf course from the land adjacent to the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn. Fans staying close enough to Sea Pines to ride bikes to the golf tournament are welcome to park their bikes at the tennis courts on Lighthouse Road.

To say that the RBC Heritage tournament is a festive social occasion for many is very true, but the 2018 winner will earn a $1 million payday. Whether one is standing along the 18th fairway, or simply viewing the scenery on TV, it is easy to see why this special Lowcountry vista doesn’t get old after 50 years. For those that attend every year it’s almost like an extra holiday weekend, celebrating life while tipping the tartan cap towards the lifestyle of golf.

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at LowcountryOutdoors.com

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (340 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com