Hilton Head Island wasn't specifically created for golf.
But it brought the people.
The inaugural Heritage Classic golf tournament in 1969 was a marketing tool, used to promote Charles Fraser's new resort called Sea Pines Plantation. From those early days, it grew into what is now the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing.
Golf, though, remains a means to an end.
This time each year near the Harbour Town Golf Links course, business executives and politicians gather in white tents to wheel and deal between cocktails.
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The wealthy hit floating golf balls from their 130-foot yachts, wait for the sun to set and the parties to rise.
Carloads of South Carolinians convene for the biggest social event of the year. With the taste of saltwater on their lips, they smile widely and pose for pictures in front of the candy-striped Harbour Town lighthouse.
And yes, a PGA Tour event plays out, too. Former champions inlcude Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson.
But much of the fun -- and the tales -- from South Carolina's most iconic party take place outside the ropes.
Course architect Pete Dye had planned to be done with Harbour Town Golf Links long before the inaugural Heritage Classic got under way the Thanksgiving weekend of 1969. But a misunderstanding had gotten him behind schedule. | READ
For veteran Harbour Town Yacht Basin harbormaster Nancy Cappelmann and assistant harbormaster Leslie Whitener, their fondest tournament memory of the RBC Heritage involves boats no longer than a beer bottle. | READ
In the inaugural Heritage, pro Jim Feree returned to the circuit and proved his skills were still sharp, playing well enough to finish in the money in a tie for 52nd place. He earned $181.80. WITH VIDEO | READ
Caddie and hauling service owner Steve Hulka came up with the idea for his pro golfer transport business -- called H.O.P.E. for Hulka's Overland Players Express -- after Sept. 11, 2001, when maneuvering through airports became more difficult for golfers. | READ