The golf was hot, the weather was warm and the grandest party in the South unfolded on queue.
And as the 48th RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing ended Sunday with Branden Grace of South Africa wearing the winner’s tartan jacket, the sun was smiling on Hilton Head Island.
Many reasons can be cited for this tournament for the records.
We’re at the right place where we should be as far as discussions go.
David I. McKay, RBC chief executive
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Yes, there was the golf course that Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus made famous with the help of Arnold Palmer.
And, yes, the Harbour Town Golf Links have been rejuvenated by the owners of the hosting Sea Pines Resort, the Bill and Alice Tolley Goodwin family.
There were teams of local workers and volunteers who nearly killed themselves making the hospitality look seamless.
Perhaps the home crowd was buoyed by news from the opening ceremony that it will definitely all happen again next year with the current title sponsors.
After the closing ceremonies, RBC president and CEO David I. McKay told me:
“We’re signed through 2017, as you know, and I think we’re going through an orderly discussion about extending beyond that. We’re at the right place where we should be as far as discussions go, but nothing to announce as yet.”
Tournament director Steve Wilmot said before the ceremony that several meetings were held throughout the week involving RBC, Boeing, and the PGA Tour.
“There are no issues,” he said. “It’s just a matter of working through some details, hopefully, and we’ll hopefully find out sooner rather than later exactly where we’re going, but we’re set for 2017 and that’s our focus right now.”
But on this day, the locals know better than anyone what made this Heritage the one with record ticket sales.
It was the weather.
Meant to be
Saturday’s blue skies and bright sunshine seemed like a double-bogey compared to the “Charles Fraser weather” of Sunday.
Fraser, who concocted this whole affair in 1969, had an uncanny knack for keeping dark clouds from his audacious plan to pull eyes, feet and wallets to his dreamy shore.
They said the chance of rain on Friday was 80 percent. I didn’t feel a drop. Maybe that’s why the nose on Fraser’s bust at his grave overlooking Harbour Town Yacht Basin has been rubbed clean by people who apparently still believe.
With CBS Sports, the Golf Channel and others spreading images of our water, boats, birds and beautiful trees worldwide, everything the tournament was meant to be seemed to have come to pass.
People stopped to talk to each other, and giggle and laugh. They wore bodacious clothes. They took a million photographs of each other and shipped them instantly to a waiting world.
My favorite snapshot is the one of Ogunsheye “Sheye” Rohlsen, the heart and soul of my neighborhood Harris Teeter on Main Street, wearing a robe that came from Africa. Sheye escaped the Teeter long enough to enjoy the Heritage on Sunday with friends Lynn Mancill and Jeani Davis. Lynn bought a long tartan skirt at the Bargain Box thrift store, and Jeani fashioned it into their two skirts and decorative flowers for a festive stroll over the grounds.
‘Tyranny of the urgent’
And I saw silent suffering along the yellow ropes as a father watched his son miss the cut by one lousy stroke over two days of play.
Even the first Heritage champion, Arnold Palmer, could feel pain running through our party as his grandson missed the cut as well.
An old caddie helped me put it all in perspective.
As I stood in the parking lot Sunday morning, I could tell from Andrew Martinez that the life of roving golfers and caddies isn’t as smooth as their limber backswings. Just like us, their schedules are tight and the demands are constant. Families can be far away. And the courtesy BMWs they glide around Hilton Head in can be deceiving.
Martinez is 66. His bulging calf muscles and strong back now guide a kid 40 years his junior around the endless PGA Tour.
Twice during his working visits to Hilton Head, Martinez has spoken to local crowds about his faith. He’s itinerant, but he has given back to this place.
He said his life inside the ropes can be swallowed up. He called it “tyranny of the urgent.”
And so that’s what we do, with the Heritage our symbol of doors open to the world.
When the weather is right, and the Heritage party flows from oak-lined fairways to the marina, we can, even if but for a long weekend, slow down the “tyranny of the urgent.”