Every April, Hilton Head is abuzz with excitement as the weeklong RBC Heritage Golf Tournament comes to the island, bringing legends and rising stars in golf, thousands of plaid-clad fans in Tartan sunshades, and the attention of the world with it. 

The dates for 2017 are April 10-16. And, as is a long-standing tradition, it kicks off with a cannon blast echoing on the 18th hole and the defending champion launching a tee shot into the deep blue waters of Calibogue Sound.

image source: Hilton Head Island

This sporting and social event is one of golf’s greatest traditions, and it has a storied past as well as other things about it that are just plain interesting to know.

  • It’s credited with putting Hilton Head on the map. Locals tell it that the first tournament in 1969 was part of a plan by Sea Pines developer Charles Frazier to promote the newly created Harbor Town Golf Links. Big names in golf like Palmer and Nicklaus came, drawing people and lots of press – and Hilton Head was on its way to becoming a golf destination of epic status.
  • Today, RBC Heritage is Hilton Head’s biggest event. It’s estimated that each year more than 100,000 fans line the vibrant greens of the now famous Harbor Town Golf Links course to watch top golfers play. Plus, it takes more than 1200 volunteers to carry out the event.

image source: Sea Pines Resort

  • The tournament’s purse has ballooned over the years. In 1969 Charles Frazer started the tournament with a purse of $100,000. The late Arnold Palmer was the winner that year; he took home $20 grand. Since then, the purse has grown into the millions – up to $6.5 million in 2017.
  • The name has not always been RBC Heritage. Reportedly, there have been nine name changes for the event over the years. It began as the Heritage Classic, and as time went on the name of the title sponsor for the year was used in conjunction with Heritage or Heritage Classic. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has been title sponsor since 2012. Boeing is the presenting sponsor.

image source: South Carolina Junior Golf Association

  • It has been held in four different months. The RBC Heritage takes place in April, usually the week after the Masters Tournament. But that’s only been the case since 1983. From 1969 to 1972 it was in November. In 1973, September. Then it moved to March for the next nine years.
  • It is the only PGA TOUR event in South Carolina. The tournament has been touted as the most fun and fan-friendly stop on the PGA TOUR schedule and it is their only one in the state. The RBC Heritage is also one of only five PGA invitational tournaments, which allows it to limit the number of players and to have more freedom to determine which players participate.

Image source: The Fantasy Golf

  • The list of champions includes top names in the game. As mentioned earlier, the late Arnold Palmer was the first tournament winner. Also among the past champions are Nicklaus, Faldo, Irwin, Langer, Love, Miller, Norman, Price, Watson and the late Payne Stewart; all of whom have been inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
  • Davis Love III tops the multiple winner's lists. There have been 10 golfers who have won the RBC Heritage multiple times through 2016. Of those 10, Davis Love III has been crowned champion more than any of the others. He has won five times.

Image source: Red Clay Soul

  • Yes, the winner’s jacket is red plaid. In addition to a trophy and a sizable sum of cash, RBC Heritage champions also get to slip on the coveted red plaid jacket. It’s said that organizers got the inspiration for the jacket from a 1790 golf print of Sir William Innes, a wealthy Scottish golfer, playing in a Tartan jacket. The tournament trophy, by the way, features a likeness of Sir William.
  • Fans can “get their plaid on” too. The winner isn’t the only one who gets to sport plaid. Spectators are also encouraged to do so, especially on Plaid Nation Day which is typically on Saturday. It’s a fun day when fans celebrate by competing for swag and other prizes.

Image source: www.mobilesportsreport.com

  • RBC Heritage keeps it “green.” As well as celebrating the sport of golf, the tournament also celebrates the exquisite natural beauty of Hilton Head. And they work to preserve that beauty by committing to environmental sustainability at the event.
  • It raises big bucks for charity. While only one golfer will be the champion, there are a lot of other winners associated with the tournament. Proceeds go to the Heritage Classic Foundation, which distributed $2.4 million to a variety of charitable organizations in 2016 alone.

Image source: Bluffton Today

The RBC Heritage is a fun, exciting and beloved family-friendly tradition, and it is part of the easy-living lifestyle that makes it super easy to hang your hat in this neck of the woods where the weather is fine, the scenic beauty sublime, and the island itself a slice of paradise.