More than a half mile of vinyl made Hilton Head's lighthouse plaid. Here's how they did it

30 hours and a blow torch: How RBC Heritage turned Hilton Head’s lighthouse plaid

RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing turned the Harbour Town lighthouse on Hilton Head Island plaid to celebrate their 50th golf tournament. Here's how they did it.
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RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing turned the Harbour Town lighthouse on Hilton Head Island plaid to celebrate their 50th golf tournament. Here's how they did it.

Hilton Head’s Harbour Town lighthouse got a new look this week.

Its familiar candy stripes have been replaced by the traditional plaid of RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing to celebrate the golf tournament’s 50th birthday.

Changing its stripes took a team effort.

The idea grew out of an RBC Heritage Classic Foundation staff planning meeting about a year ago, according to Angela McSwain, marketing director of the tournament.

“Someone threw the idea out there and Al Kennikell took the lead and did the research and found out we could actually do it,” McSwain said.

Kennikell is the owner of Savannah’s Kennikell Group, the company that printed the plaid pattern on the vinyl.

His company partnered with Jeremy Conner, who owns the vinyl installation company Who Did That, Inc.

It took about 3,400 square feet of a removable vinyl film to create the new look, Conner said. All of the vinyl was donated by Orafol Americas.

McSwain said sponsors of RBC Heritage are paying for the project and confirmed that Sea Pines did not provide any financial support. She declined to provide a specific cost estimate.

Hilton Head could be the first in the world to wrap a lighthouse in vinyl stickers, she said.

“Conner has done a lot of research and he’s convinced we’re the first lighthouse to do this,” McSwain said.

How it worked:

Two certified installers — Ingram Johnson and Chad Parrish — worked together to apply the vinyl to the lighthouse.

Harbour Town lighthouse workers
A worker wraps the Harbour Town lighthouse for the 50th anniversary of the RBC Heritage presented by Boeing.

The plaid was printed on vertical and horizontal panels, which had to be pieced together to cover the lighthouse’s red stripes, Conner said.

Hbr Twn lighthouse plaid rolls

A job of this scale would be time-consuming no matter what, he said. But the stucco texture of the lighthouse made the job even more difficult.

“Normally it would be installed with a squeegee if the surface were smooth, but textured applications take extra attention to detail,” Conner said.

So instead of a squeegee, Johnson and Parrish were armed with two tools — a blow torch and a foam roller, which Conner said allowed the vinyl to take on the texture of the lighthouse.

The two used a “heat and roll” approach to apply the vinyl.

Conner said he had originally planned to tackle the project himself, with the help of Johnson.

But he ended up having surgery on his shoulder recently and called Parrish in to help.

Still, he couldn’t resist helping out Monday.

“But we all decided that me being hard-headed wasn’t a good enough reason to risk a lifetime disability,” Conner said. “So I handed the rest over for them to finish.”

The men started the project Monday afternoon. They worked into the night Tuesday, putting in an almost 12-hour day. They finished up around 7 p.m. Thursday.

In all, it took about 30 hours to cover all eight sides of the lighthouse’s red stripes — and install four RBC Heritage and “50” logos.

Conner said he’ll be back on Hilton Head the last week of April to remove the plaid.

“I’ll heat the vinyl and carefully peel it from the lighthouse, being careful to not remove any paint or damage the stucco by pulling too hard,” he said.

Why plaid the lighthouse?

The Harbour Town lighthouse goes hand-in-hand with RBC Heritage.

In fact, builders raced to finish it in time for the first tournament in 1969.

They didn’t quite make it.

A skeletal form of the lighthouse stood in the background of the 18th hole during the inaugral tournament.

Arnold Palmer won the inaugural RBC Heritage golf tournament in 1969. His victory was plastered all over newpapers nationwide — and helped put Hilton Head Island on the map. Harbour Town Golf Links/RBC Heritage

Many credit both that first tournament — and the lighthouse — for putting Hilton Head Island on the map as a premiere travel destination.

Arnold Palmer hadn’t won a golf tournament in over a year. So when he won here in 1969, his picture — and Harbour Town Golf Links — was plastered on newspapers across the country.

Fifty years on, it’s temporary new look is likely to help the island stay on the map.