golf green at sunset

A Hilton Head Golf Tradition: the RBC Heritage is Back!

It’s time to practice your swing and dust off your finest plaid attire. The countdown is on, and Hilton Head Island’s most exciting PGA TOUR golf event of the year is just around the corner!

The 51st annual RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing is coming up at Harbour Town Golf Links from April 15-21, and once again, Hilton Head Island will be decked out in tartan and welcoming some of the top names in golf. In addition to the action on the course, there will be plenty of family-friendly fun, entertainment, and dining to enjoy.


What makes this PGA tournament so special? What’s the best way to experience the event? And what’s with the plaid? Read on to learn all about one of the biggest weeks in the Lowcountry calendar and how to make the most of all the fun when you visit!


The History of RBC Heritage


Back in 1969, Hilton Head Island was a little-known hidden gem, and Harbour Town Golf Links was a brand-new course. When Sea Pines developer Charles Fraser decided to host a PGA-level tournament at the course over Thanksgiving weekend, he was met with some skepticism. The timing of a long holiday weekend, a brand-new course in a quiet area–would the PGA’s top golfers even show up?


They sure did, including Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, who were two of the biggest names in golf at the time. Palmer won the inaugural Heritage Classic, which garnered a lot of press coverage. The new course earned plenty of media praise, too. And just like that, Hilton Head Island became a renowned golf destination, attracting pros and amateurs alike.


Over the past half a century, lots has changed about the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing (known as simply “Heritage” by the locals). The tournament has moved from a Thanksgiving event to one that’s held in mid-April, and, of course, it’s grown! Today, the tournament draws 135,000 spectators and creates a $96 million economic impact for South Carolina. The original purse of $100,000 (equivalent to $770,000 today) has ballooned to $6.9 million in prize money in 2019.


Some things have stayed the same. The RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing has always been a display of one-of-a-kind Lowcountry hospitality, charm, and family-friendly fun. Players and spectators alike rate it as one of the best stops on the PGA TOUR year after year. Check out these moments from last year’s tournament for proof!



What to See and Do at RBC Heritage


Opening Ceremonies - Monday, April 15 at 10 a.m.

The fun kicks off with the traditional opening ceremonies and parade, beginning at Liberty Oak at Harbour Town Yacht Basin and ending on the 18th green. Last year’s RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing champion, Satoshi Kodaira, will be marching in the parade, as well as Heritage Classic foundation board members, volunteers, state dignitaries. The parade will be a sight to see as thethe Citadel’s Regimental Pipe Band will perform along the walk to the green.


Coca-Cola Youth Day - Tuesday, April 16

Kids 15 and under are invited to putt with the pros during the Putting Contest, held at the Putting Green from 3-4 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., a family movie will be aired on the Heritage Lawn.


Pro-Am - Wednesday, April 17

From 7 a.m.-7 p.m., the RBC Heritage Pro-Am will be held, starting on the first and tenth tees. It’s a great opportunity for amateur golfers to play with the pros!


Competition - Thursday and Friday, April 18-19

The first round of competition will be played on Thursday, with morning starting times beginning at 7:20 a.m. and afternoon start times beginning at 11:50a.m. On Friday, the second round will be played with the same start times in effect.


Plaid Nation Day - Saturday, April 20

Wear your plaid! Today is the day to showcase your RBC Heritage pride in your finest plaid getup. Swag and prizes will be awarded, including tickets to next year’s RBC Heritage! Contests include a Hole-in-One contest, Fastest Clad in Plaid, Tartan Trivia, and Best Dressed in Plaid. The competition breaks for the day, so Saturday is a great day to kick back and enjoy some fun.


Final Round - Sunday, April 21

With starting times at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., the competition wraps up on Sunday, with the trophy presentation immediately after play closes in the afternoon.


Why Plaid?


Year after year, the winner of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing collects not only a trophy and a cash prize, but also an eye-catching plaid jacket. “Why plaid” you ask? Truth is, it wasn’t always part of the tournament. Here’s how it came to be the signature look of the event.


In the Heritage Classic’s early years, tournament officials stood out in bright yellow jackets. A few years later, the event’s organizers decided to pay homage to a well-known 1790 golf print of Sir William Innes, the captain of the Society of Golfers at Blackheath in Scotland. In the print, Sir William wears a tartan jacket. His image was included in the Heritage’s logo until 2012, when RBC became the event’s title sponsor.


Event organizers adapted Royal Stewart tartan by removing a yellow bar to make it unique. Known as Heritage Plaid, it’s the pattern that’s now on the jacket given to tournament winners. Unique to Hilton Head Island and the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, it’s just one of the many special touches that sets this event apart!


Want to be part of the tradition and join in the celebration at this year’s RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing? Check out Lowcountry accommodations, things to see and do, and all the golf courses and facilities on Hilton Head Island to help you practice your game while you’re here, or use our free Vacation Planner to help you create your ideal tournament getaway. See you on the links!

RBC Heritage golf flag

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