Check out the many ways The Heritage Classic Foundation rolls out the red carpet for the PGA Tour’s best.
Story by Barry Kaufman + Photos by Arno Dimmling
Hilton Head Island is a place known for two things: golf and world-class hospitality. Everyone who crosses that bridge is treated like family, whether they’re here for a week or a lifetime. And that’s no different for the PGA professionals who come here every April to play in the RBC Heritage.
OK, it’s a little different. We don’t exactly give every visitor a BMW to tool around in, but these are some of the world’s best golfers and we want to make their stay on Hilton Head Island as memorable as possible. So they get the full VIP treatment. And on an island famed for hospitality, you can bet the VIP treatment goes above and beyond.
VIP for The Whole Family
With Heritage being the week after the Masters, when a lot of golfers are typically decompressing from one of the biggest events in the sport, it’s not uncommon for them to bring their families along. To make sure the youngest members of the golfers’ entourage have a great time, the Heritage Classic Foundation arranges a special daycare program every year. Spearheaded by volunteer Nancy Fish, this kid-friendly adventure is more than just workbooks and screen time.
“It’s second to none,” said foundation President Steve Wilmot. “They take the children out on dolphin watches, they take them crabbing, they’ll do some CrossFit, and do visits to the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and The Sandbox… it’s something pretty special.”
The Ultimate Driving Machine
During their stay on Hilton Head Island, players will be able to take a test drive in a factory-fresh BMW straight from the automaker’s Greer facility. Nearly 150 BMWs will make their way down on a fleet of car carriers from the factory, where a small army of volunteers will get them to the destinations at either Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport or Hilton Head Island Airport. It’s an intense ballet of logistics that tests not only the volunteers but the sponsors at BMW and both airports.
“It’s really flawless, and there is a lot of planning that goes into it,” said Wilmot. But the result is, the players get to cruise the island in style.
No one can golf on an empty stomach, so the Heritage Classic Foundation makes sure every player gets the gourmet treatment as they fuel up for play.
“They are fed from sun up to sun down,” said Wilmot. “We’re serving food at 5:30 for those guys teeing up at 7. Obviously, it’s first class. If someone wants more kale or something custom because they’re on a health kick, we’re able to accommodate them.”
Wilmot notes that, in general, players are eating healthier these days. But no matter how many of them have swapped Power Bars for candy bars, it’s hard to say no to fresh-baked cookies.
“Our Sea Pines kitchen makes cookies that the players absolutely love,” said Caddy Manager Chuck Miller. “Peanut butter, chocolate chip, macadamia, oatmeal… they all come in to the locker room on big platters fresh every morning. They’ll take half, but they’ll be back for the other half.”
Of course, there’s one world-class amenity that comes baked into any trip to Hilton Head Island: being on Hilton Head Island.
“Coming to Hilton Head Island is the red-carpet treatment,” said Wilmot. “That’s a part of the experience – the first-class amenities, playing Harbour Town, staying in first-class accommodations, the beach, biking…. All these things add to the event.”
Plus, players get exclusive access to the best clubhouse on the tour. “Before the new clubhouse we had the smallest locker room on tour,” said Miller. “Now it’s probably the biggest. You can’t beat that.”
Player Perks for the Average Joe
For the first time ever, Sea Pines Resort has opened a limited number of accommodations at The Inn & Club at Harbour Town for the RBC Heritage. With packages starting at $629 per room, guests are able to stay just steps away from tournament action at the Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond boutique hotel overlooking the first tee of Harbour Town Golf Links.
The package includes:
Two RBC Heritage clubhouse badges
On-site valet or self-parking
Private transportation within Sea Pines
Daily use of beach chairs, umbrellas and beach towels
Adult bikes for two, plus reduced rates on children’s bikes
Access to the Sea Pines Resort Fitness Center
Preferred golf rates for Sea Pines Resort’s other golf courses, Heron Point, designed by Pete Dye, and the Davis Love III-designed Atlantic Dunes.
Overheard last year
“It’s my family’s tournament; my dad’s favorite, my mom’s favorite, sitting by the beach and the pool. And my favorite for watching golf. It’s always been a pleasure to come here.”
— Dru Love, son of Davis Love III
“My grandfather loved this golf course, just as I do now. It’s so neat that it has stood the test of time without becoming a long golf course.”
— Sam Saunders, grandson of Arnold Palmer
“Hilton Head feels a little bit like our all-star break.”
— Charles Howell III