Steve Spurrier may now be a retired “Head Ball Coach,” but he hasn’t retired from the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, said tournament director Steve Wilmot.
The former head football coach of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks is expected to play for the 12th consecutive year in the Wednesday pro-am, to be played April 13 over the Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines.
Spurrier takes his golf seriously. But at the pro-am he has been known more for posing with his legions of fans than throwing visors.
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Tournament officials announced Monday that both the Monday and Wednesday pro-ams are sold out, with sponsors still trying to squeeze in another foursome.
Andy Shabita, RBC vice president of brand marketing, said the title sponsor will be hosting clients from Asia, Europe and all over North America.
Mike Zavada, vice president of business operations for Boeing Commercial Airlines, said the presenting sponsor will also use the pro-ams to bring the world to the Lowcountry. Of the “growing fan base” for the tournament among Boeing’s customers and suppliers, most of them are international, he said.
Sir Willie the Younger
Sir Willie has discovered the fountain of youth.
Or so it seems. A new actor is now portraying the Heritage ambassador, and he is much younger.
All he will say in a Scottish brogue is that he is Sir William “Willie” Innes of Scotland.
On Monday, he appeared at Media Day and on Tuesday, he visited two local charities that benefit from the Heritage: AMIkids Beaufort and the YMCA of Beaufort County.
Innes has been the symbol of the Heritage since its inception in 1969. The ancient golfer is represented on the logo and championship trophy, and for a number of years has come to life as a person dressed in a plaid jacket and carrying an old golf club wherever the tournament is represented.
This year, call him Sir Willie the Younger.
The nonprofit Heritage Classic Foundation is marking its 30th anniversary this year as general sponsor of the Heritage.
With this year’s tournament, it is expected to hit the $35 million mark in money funneled through the tournament to local, state and regional charities.
Last year’s total was $2.6 million, including about $190,000 earned by nonprofits running concession stands, and $230,000 through the Birdies for Charity program.
Since 1993, the foundation has given more than $3.7 million in college scholarships to 267 high school graduates in Beaufort County.
This year also marks the 30th year Wilmot has been with the tournament, most of it as director.
“Actually, it’s been 30 pounds,” he joked.
Presenting sponsor Boeing is celebrating its 100th year in business. And in February, its 7,500 employees in North Charleston delivered the 100th 787 Dreamliner since the first one rolled off the line there almost four years ago.
Mike Zavada, now the face of Boeing at the Heritage following the retirement last year of Jack Jones, said the company anniversary is a celebration of innovation and a plea to young Americans to aim higher.
“We really are an engineering company,” Zavada said. “We want to get young people interested in engineering, math and science to raise the next generation of engineers for the next 100 years.”
The company is trying to help young dreams take flight with a 5,000-square-foot traveling aerospace exhibition called “Above and Beyond.” It premiered at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and will be at the Gaillard Center in Charleston through March 13.
Details about the Charleston exhibition can be found at aboveandbeyondexhibition.com.
Hilton Head Island Mayor David Bennett called the tournament a “whole in one” at Media Day on Monday, stressing its place in the whole community.
Wilmot had another way to make the connection. He said the top selling T-shirt over the years says, “Who Invited These Players to Our Party?”