The first Heritage golf tournament was held Thanksgiving weekend in 1969. The winner of that first event was the great Arnold Palmer. He helped put Hilton Head Island on the map.
Now, 50 tournaments later, the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing is broadcast to more than 226 countries in 23 languages and is arguably the best promotion of Hilton Head Island and the Lowcountry. The tournament is a favorite of tour players who enjoy bringing their families to Sea Pines Resort.
You have probably heard "Cheers to 50 Years" on the radio and TV for a few months. Turning 50 is a major accomplishment for the tournament, which is run by the Heritage Classic Foundation. Since 1987, the year that the Heritage Classic Foundation was founded, it has distributed $38 million to those in need across South Carolina and Georgia.
The Foundation has donated proceeds from the event to charitable organizations, specifically in the arts, medical institutions and higher education. More than 300 high school seniors have received four-year scholarships with these funds.
New this year is the Tartan Invitational Tournament at Atlantic Dunes. This outing pairs four amateurs with a special South Carolina guest including tennis legend Stan Smith, Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers and Clemson All-American quarterback Steve Fuller.
New on the course at Harbour Town is the Youth Zone at the Heritage Lawn. This event will feature a six-hole putting course and two swing bays. It will be a perfect place for families and kids to check out. We will be taking our LPGA Girls Golf participants to the tournament, and I know they will enjoy this area.
Dustin Johnson, a South Carolina native and the No. 1 golfer in the world, will be playing in this year's celebratory event. He hasn't played in South Carolina for 10 years so this will be a big plus for the tournament. "Celebrating 50 years with the No. 1 golfer in the world makes the tournament better," said Steve Wilmot, tournament director. "Our fans and sponsors can't wait to welcome Dustin home to the Palmetto State."
Also returning is defending champion, Wesley Bryan, the first South Carolina native to win the tournament. Past champions Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell and Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk have committed to playing. They are all RBC Sponsored Players.
Ticket information is available at rbcheritage.com or by calling 843-671-2448. Come join the 150,000 other people attending the tournament and celebrate "Cheers to 50 Years!"
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. email@example.com; www.golfdoctorjean.com