Celebrating 50 years, Heritage honors home-grown roots

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Longtime residents and even newcomers to the Lowcountry are well aware by now that the Heritage is celebrating 50 years of golf at Harbour Town.

I mean, the lighthouse is plaid, dude.

The excitement started in January when tournament director Steve Wilmot announced plans to change the red stripes on the lighthouse to plaid.

Special events continued over the past few months and will culminate with the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing at Harbour Town April 9-15.

This is a great year to get your plaid on. You might also add a touch of gold to mark this milestone year.

While the history remains an important factor in the celebration, there are plenty of new elements to notice as well.

Did I mention the plaid lighthouse?

Interestingly for a tournament named "heritage," there are a few significant home-grown touches this year. Let's look at the line-up of golfers committed to playing, starting with last year's winner.

Wesley Bryan, a young man from Irmo (next door to Columbia), was the first South Carolinian to win the tartan jacket. He'll be back to defend his title.

Dustin Johnson, RBC's newest brand ambassador, is also a native South Carolinian - born in my hometown, Columbia. Oh, and he is also the No. 1 player in the world.

In. The. World.

That's some kind of cool, isn't it?

A new event associated with the tournament is the Tartan Invitational Pro-Am that will be held April 11 at Atlantic Dunes in Sea Pines. Some of the well known - and home grown - players are: Bobby Cremins, who was known in the state as a stand-out basketball player at the University of South Carolina in the 1960s (before he was an award-winning coach); Steve Fuller, All-American at Clemson in the 1970s; and outstanding running back George Rogers of USC, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1980.

Continuing the home-grown theme, some very wise person (or committee) came up with a revolutionary new twist on concessions. The Heritage Classic Foundation formed a partnership with the Certified SC Grown program. That means the food at various locations will be a lot fresher and a lot more local.

I can't wait to find the SC Grown food truck for some collard slaw.

Even if you're not a golfer, nor interested in who is playing or even who wins, the Heritage can be an exciting and very social place to be, especially with the festive atmosphere that a 50-year celebration exudes.

I suggest you and your posse start your visit at the Harbour Town Clubhouse (that's where all the shuttles drop off passengers anyway).

If you have a Clubhouse badge, you can get a "walking" beverage here. Bloody Marys are popular, but bottled water is perfectly fine, especially if it's a warm day.

There is also Wine at Nine close by, between No. 1 and No. 9. (There's a course map at RBCheritage.com.)

Concessions are available also at the 7th tee, 8th green, 10th fairway (the famous "Social Corner," where, if you stay long enough, you are likely to see everyone you ever knew on Hilton Head Island), 13th green, 15th green, 17th green, and 18th fairway. I will be scoping out the craft beer garden near the 15th green.

Remember, you can't enjoy all this home-grown fun if you don't have tickets, so get them now. Visit RBCheritage.com for details.

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