TIPS TO ENSURE HERITAGE IS FUN FOR EVERYONE
First time attending the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing? You're in for a real treat — but the scene at Harbour Town Golf Links can be a bit daunting to a first-time spectator.
Let's get the most important thing out of the way first: Do not, under any circumstance, yell "Get in the hole!" Just don't do it. The marshals are instructed to lead anyone who does so to the nearest lagoon and feed them to the alligators. (OK, that last part isn’t true, but it's still not advisable.)
It's hard to have anything less than a great time at any PGA Tour event, much less one that incorporates the great tradition of the Heritage and the natural beauty of Hilton Head Island. And there's no right or wrong way to go about attending a golf tournament — other than abiding by simple etiquette rules such as obeying marshals, staying outside the ropes and respecting play — but we can pass along a few tips that might make your experience more enjoyable and memorable.
EXPLORE THE COURSE
So many Heritage spectators stroll out to Harbour Town Golf Links’ ninth green or the picturesque 18th — admittedly fine viewing areas — and never see another part of the course. That's a shame because some the course’s more intriguing holes are far-flung from the clubhouse. If you're able, spend part of a day walking the course and making mental notes that you can refer to while watching the scoreboard or viewing a future television broadcast.
USE THE MAP
If you're not familiar with the course, it can be easy to get turned around and lose track of where you are on any golf course, and Harbour Town is no different. Luckily, there's a course map in the daily pairings sheets available at the entrance to the course and at various other spots around Harbour Town. The map also indicates where you can find bleachers, concessions stands, first aid stations, cellphone zones and other important areas.
POUND THE PAVEMENT
Here's a true insider's tip, because not all course maps show it: Using Plantation Drive is one of the fastest ways to get from point A to point B in a hurry. The road runs between the first green and second tee, the eighth green and ninth tee, the 10th green and 11th tee, and the 15th green and 16th tee — making it easy to jump around the course without walking for hours. This comes in especially handy if you're following the leaders on the front nine Sunday and someone who went out early makes a charge up the leaderboard.
FOLLOW THE LEADERS
While I'm all for getting out to see the course and watching as many different players as possible on Thursday and Friday, and even Saturday, there is nothing more exciting than setting out with the lead group from the first tee on Sunday and seeing the players through to the end. Keep an eye on the leaderboard throughout the day and be prepared to change your plans, but if it becomes a two-horse race, it's great to be able to look back and say you saw every shot the leaders hit on the final day of the tourney and replay the round in your mind.
USE YOUR HEAD
Some rules should go without saying, but you never can tell when alcohol is involved. A few years back, a spectator stripped down and went for a swim in the lagoon along the 10th fairway. He lost one of his flip-flops to a gator and wound up in handcuffs. Don't be stupid. Don't be that guy.
HARBOUR TOWN 'HOT SPOTS'
There's no bad place to be at Harbour Town during the Heritage. The world's greatest golfers will provide "oohs" and "ahhs" at every hole, and every hole is great in its own right. But sometimes you just want to rest a minute or catch up with friends and socialize, and there are several great places to do so. After all, the Heritage is all about Southern hospitality. If you're lucky enough, you might score an invitation to one of the skyboxes at Nos. 16, 17 or 18, but if you don't have friends in such high places, you're not out of luck. Check out these hot spots:
- For my money, attending a PGA Tour event is one of the best values in sports. For $175 you get tickets for all seven days — three practice rounds and four competition rounds — and for another $75 you can add clubhouse access and access to two on-course hospitality venues. But if you really want to splurge, the "Doc's BBQ Club" package is as good as it gets. For $470, you get a ticket for all seven days, with access to a private entertainment venue on the 15th green from Thursday to Sunday. There's a climate-controlled dining section with a daily buffet provided by Doc's BBQ of Columbia and Southern Way Catering, and the ticket price includes draft beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. That's tough to beat.
- A new addition to the event's hospitality areas a few years back, the Heritage Lawn is located between the 17th and 18th holes in the area previously dominated by the CBS compound. And it's fabulous. All the hospitality tents along the 18th fairway empty into a courtyard area that includes a massive Jumbotron where you can watch television coverage of the tournament while grabbing a snack or ice-cold beverage and kicking your feet up.
- The area between the 10th and 16th fairways is a short walk from the clubhouse and becomes a popular spot to see and be seen, especially if the weather is nice. Often referred to as "Sundress City" or "The Bermuda Shorts Triangle" — OK, maybe I'm the only person who calls it the Bermuda Shorts Triangle, but trust me, it fits — the crowd that gathers here will show you that the Heritage really is the social event of the year on Hilton Head. They're also quite charitable to the concessionaires who sell alcohol. Philanthropy at its finest — and funnest.
- It's not quite the party spot that Sundress City is, but the area between the second green and third tee and the sixth green and seventh tee is great to catch a glimpse of a large number of players passing through. No. 2 is a short par-5, and thus a potential eagle hole; the par-4 No. 6 produces a good number of birdie chances; and the tee shot at the par-3 No. 7 is a tough one that produces lots of memorable shots. Plus, there's a permanent restroom facility and a concessions area nearby for convenience.
Bring the kids early in the week Tuesday, April 10, is Coca-Cola Youth Day and is easily the best day to bring the family, both because of the volume of activities and the lack of crowds at Sea Pines.
Parents and kids can watch the pros during their practice rounds all day before taking to the green for the annual putting contest at 3 p.m. Kids 15 and younger can putt alongside the pros, and the first 200 kids receive a free tournament souvenir. Each child who sinks a putt also wins a prize courtesy of Coca-Cola. Register in the text next to the clubhouse. The day ends with family movie “Monsters, Inc.” on the Heritage Lawn at 4:30 p.m.
Heading out for a day of Heritage fun? There are some items you’ll want to leave at home, because they are not allowed.
- No opaque bags larger than a 6-inch-by-6-inch purse, including carrying cases, backpacks, camera bags or chair bags.
- No clear plastic, vinyl or other carry items larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches.
- No plastic, metal or glass cups, cans or containers except those for medical or infant needs.
- No computers or laptops.
- No fireworks or laser pointers.
- No lawn chairs or oversized chairs, and no seat cushions or bicycles.
- No pets, except for service animals.
- No knives, firearms or weapons of any kind.
- No video cameras.
- No cameras during competition rounds (practice rounds only).
- No outside beverages or coolers.
- No radios or TVs.
- No posters, signs or banners.
An autograph policy is in effect for the official competition rounds, Thursday through Sunday. Once a player's round has started, he may not sign autographs until the round is completed, except at his option during a period of suspension of play. Autographed items are limited to a size of 8.5 inches by 11 inches. Clipboards are not allowed.
MOBILE DEVICE POLICY
Devices may be used to capture video, audio and photos in all areas during tournament week. These images or recordings may be used for personal purposes only, like personal social media; no commercial use. No live streaming or real-time coverage (e.g., no shot-by-shot coverage). Data use (e.g., texting) is permitted in all areas throughout tournament week.
Phone calls are allowed only in designated areas:
- The Ultra Club
- Inside Clubhouse
- Concessions located at holes 9, 10, 13, 15, 18
- Neighborhood roads
Please be respectful of play and do not interfere with players, caddies or media. All posted signage and instructions from tournament staff must be observed. Failure to comply with this policy may result in the revocation of your ticket.
The RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing seems to get bigger and better every year, and this year is no different. Annual visitors to the tournament will notice two major additions this year:
- The Youth Zone presented by RLB Squared, Mikkelson Law Firm and Kinghorn Insurance and in support of the First Tee of the Lowcountry is the newest destination on the Heritage Lawn. Featuring a six-hole putting course and two swing bays, this is the place for families and kids during tournament week. Only children younger than 15 can participate in the Youth Zone.
- The Craft Beer Garden presented Anheuser Busch is the latest destination for hopheads. Forget the 19th hole and stop at the Craft Beer Garden behind the 15th green to unwind and catch up with friends over a few brews. The beer garden is open to all RBC Heritage ticketholders ages 21 or older.
Heritage Pro Ams
- 10 a.m.: Parade and opening ceremonies, kicking off at the Liberty Oak and ending at the 18th green
- 11:30 a.m.: Pro-Am Presented by Boeing, Harbour Town Golf Links
- All day: Pro practice rounds
- 7 a.m.: 22nd annual Christian Heritage Breakfast, Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa
- 3 p.m.: Coca-Cola Youth Day Putting Contest, practice green
- 4:30 p.m.: Family Movie, Heritage Lawn
- 7 a.m.: RBC Heritage Pro-Am, Harbour Town Golf Links
- 10 a.m.: Tartan Invitational, Atlantic Dunes
Heritage Tournament Play
- 7:20 a.m.: RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing First Round
- 7:20 a.m.: RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing Second Round
- 8:30 a.m.: RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing Third Round
- Noon: Plaid Nation Day contests, Heritage Lawn
- 7:30 a.m.: Sunrise Service, 18th green
- 8:30 a.m.: RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing Final Round
- Immediately following play: Trophy presentation