Simon Fraser loves playing the Harbour Town Golf Links with his 11 handicap, especially the four majestic and challenging par 3s and hole No. 6. The love of the course runs deep in the entire Fraser family, ever since Arnold Palmer took his first swing at the inaugural Heritage Classic golf tournament on Hilton Head in 1969, pocketing $20,000 as the winner.

RBC Heritage choreographs an ever-growing vehicle ballet

The best thing about the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing is that it gets a little better every year.

This year, one big improvement will be parking. Hilton Head Island officials and tournament planners came up with a plan this year to accommodate parking for the 100,000 people who enjoy tournament week. That’s a lot of cars.

I have a confession to make. I have been attending the Heritage golf tournament for 20 years and I might be able to count the number of times I’ve seen a ball arc through the air on one hand. (As for counting the number of cocktails I’ve had at the tournament, well, let’s just say I would need more hands.) I’m fairly certain I’m not alone on this one. After all, the Heritage has a longstanding reputation for being a “see and be seen” grandstanding event.

2016heritage012Not that far removed from an unsure future without a sponsor and the brief loss of its longtime spot on the PGA Tour calendar following the Masters, the current climate around the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing can only be described in glowing terms.

For the 48th year, all local eyes turn to the RBC Heritage golf tournament

Once again, Hilton Head Island will be riding a little lower the third week of April as more than 100,000 people flock to the south end of the island for the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, held at Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort.

For 48 years, the tournament has been the party of the year, drawing locals and visitors from around the country to the nicest, friendliest tournament on the tour, played on one of its quirkiest courses.

PHOTO BY ARNO DIMMLING / 2014 RBC Heritage champion Matt Kuchar begins last year's tournament week with the ceremonial tee shot into Calibogue Sound.

HERITAGE HISTORY

The dates were Nov. 27-30, 1969, Thanksgiving weekend, and innovative Sea Pines designer Charles Fraser gave the first tournament on the newly created Harbour Town Golf Links a traditional twist by calling it the "Heritage Classic.” Back then, nearly everyone had to reach for a map to discover Hilton Head’s whereabouts. Would anyone show up on Thanksgiving weekend, especially to a remote, unknown spot? And would the world’s top golfers want to be challenged by a new, unfamiliar course? Still, the best in the game came.

A look the men and women who put together the Lowcountry’s biggest event...

ANDY MCMILLEN

OPERATIONS MANAGER

ANDY MCMILLENCURRENT TOWN: Hilton Head Island
HOMETOWN: Salamanca, New York
WHAT HE DOES: I oversee the day-to-day operations of ticket sales and work closely with Morgan Hyde on the coordination of the set up and tear down of the tournament site — skybox, bleachers, tents and restrooms, etc.
FAVORITE HERITAGE MEMORY: The 2013 playoff between Graeme McDowell and Webb Simpson, with Graeme McDowell coming out on top.

2016heritage020Since its inception in 1969, the RBC Heritage golf tournament has attracted some of the biggest names in professional golf, including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Payne Stewart, Boo Weekley and Jim Furyk, who have all won the tournament at some point. While the spotlight is, understandably, focused on the pro golfers who compete in the tournament, far less attention is paid to the well-coordinated army of volunteers who help the Heritage go off without a hitch — many of whom return to volunteer year after year. Committed volunteers are absolutely essential to a golf tournament like the Heritage, which is held over a weeklong period and boasts a number of critical events, from the opening ceremony to the pro-ams to the tournament itself.

Tom WatsonHeld at the famed Harbour Town Golf Links, the Pro-Am is one of the most anticipated events leading up to the annual RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. Not only do amateur golf enthusiasts get the chance to play alongside some of the most recognizable names in professional golf, but the entry fees for the event help fund the Heritage Classic Foundation's community charity programs. The opportunity to rub shoulders with favorite pro golfers, as well as support worthy local charities, keep players coming back year after year, making spots in the Pro-Am quick to sell out.

heritage landscapingIn 1969, the nation was introduced to Hilton Head as the media celebrated Arnold Palmer’s first big win in 14 months. The Harbour Town golf course, designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nichlaus, along with signature Charles Fraser elements like the then partially built Harbour Town Lighthouse set a standard for Hilton Head’s renown aesthetic, as well as what golf enthusiasts and happy Heritage partygoers alike would come to expect from this event, now attended by more than 100,000 people. “We try to make it better and better each year,” said Angela McSwain, marketing director for the Heritage Classic Foundation. “And a big part of that is the landscaping.”

speedlimitState lawmakers are expected to take up a bill lowering the speed limit on a stretch of Boundary Street in Old Town Bluffton from 25 mph to 15 mph. The new limit would slow traffic between May River Road and Bridge Street. The street is home to Bluffton’s visitor center, the Heyward House and DuBois Park.

The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism recently awarded the town of Bluffton a $200,000 Undiscovered South Carolina Grant to rehabilitate the historic Garvin House, which is the earliest-known home built by a freed slave on the May River. The grant will be used for restoration work, which is scheduled to begin this year.

The process has begun for Bluffton residents to have a courtesy dock, a two-lane boat ramp, new accessible sidewalks and expanded parking spaces at the Oyster Factory Park by summer. The town of Bluffton contracted with Hilton Head Island-based Nix Construction and Ridgeland-based JS Construction Services to manage the estimated $879,000 project.

If you have attended any of the Gullah cultural events going on around Hilton Head Island in the past, you might already know about some of the work that the Native Island Business and Community Affairs Association does. This year will be especially important as it marks the 20th annual Gullah Celebration. Each February, there is a monthlong calendar of events celebrating Gullah culture. It includes a variety of activities and events such as expos, food tastings, health screenings and gospel concerts, which will entertain and engage people of all ages. However, the association’s main objective is to expand the number of opportunities for both Hilton Head residents and tourists to experience the richness of Gullah culture every month of the year.

LOVE, RESPECT AND THE ART OF MARRIAGE

They met their first week as undergrads at Duke University. He was an engineering major and she was pursuing a career in nursing, and both were smitten from the start.

That was 46 years ago, but both Shirley and Joe Newton can tell you what they were wearing the day they met.They’ve learned a thing or two about what makes for a successful relationship and they’re not shy about sharing what they’ve gleaned along the way.

The Bluffton Police Department has implemented new security measures for all Bluffton Town Council meetings as part of an update to town policies and procedures. “We have an obligation to provide a safe and secure place for the public. We aren’t here to impose on anyone’s privacy; we just want to protect them,” said Bluffton Police Chief Joey Reynolds.