RBC Heritage

RBC Heritage organizers always looking for ways to improve premier SC golf event

With no cannon, man-made “BOOM” kicks off Hilton Head’s RBC Heritage

Defending RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing champion Wesley Bryan hits the ceremonial tee shot into Calibougue Sound at Harbour Town Golf Liks at Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island Monday morning.
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Defending RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing champion Wesley Bryan hits the ceremonial tee shot into Calibougue Sound at Harbour Town Golf Liks at Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island Monday morning.

Consider these facts:

The RBC Heritage presented by Boeing has secured its title and presenting sponsors through 2023;

And the tournament reaped a pair of the PGA Tour’s most prestigious awards for excellence in 2018;

And for the first time in three years, tournament personnel is not wrestling with strategy to overcome the wrath of fall hurricanes.

Therefore, Steve Wilmot and his gang are on cruise control headed into the PGA Tour’s only stop in South Carolina, scheduled for April 18-21 at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island. Right?

Good stuff on the first three notes on the list. But wrong on that last item, the one about resting on their laurels in the days leading to the tournament’s 51st edition.

“We don’t want a hangover from the past,” said Wilmot, the tournament director for 25 of his 33 years with the Heritage. “We learn from what we have done and always ask, ‘What can we do better?’ We’re always looking for added values, opportunities beyond golf.”

Any venture of a PGA Tour tournament’s magnitude “has a lot of moving parts,” Wilmot said. “From our perspective, putting on the championship requires a 13-months-a-year effort. We want to be going eight days a week. Our philosophy is to do better to get better.”

Securing title sponsorship from the RBC assures the company’s “ambassadors” will compete. That means Dustin Johnson, the Palmetto State native and the world’s No. 1 player, and the likes of Webb Simpson, Matt Kucher and Jim Furyk will be in the field.

The golf provides an opportunity for publicity that salutes both the Hilton Head area and the entire state.

“There’s no way to measure the impact, but it’s significant,” said Simon Fraser, chairman of the Heritage Classic Foundation. “We reach 1 billion households around the world” with 35 hours on the Golf Channel, CBS and international networks.

There’s also the immediate economic impact with more than half the spectators not local.

The result: the foundation distributed more than $3.3 million to various charities across the state in 2018 and has donated more than $41 million since 1987. Recipients include organizations for children, education, arts and culture, education and the environment.

Second Helpings, a Hilton Head-based non-profit beneficiary of the RBC Heritage, earned the PGA Tour’s charity of the year award for its work in securing food that would be discarded by grocery and other stores and distributing it to agencies and churches who serve the needy.

“Seeing the work of organizations like Second Helpings is why we have to keep betting better,” Wilmot said.

The flurry of activity if a far cry from Wilmot’s first days at Hilton Head. Then, the staff consisted of three people. Now, there are 10 full-time employees.

“We look at everything, the good and the bad,” Wilmot said. “The question always is, ‘What can we do better?’ ”

A fan favorite, the flyover the 18th hole by a Boeing Dreamliner is on again, weather permitting, in the 3-6 p.m. window on Saturday, April 20.

Go online to www.rbcheritage.com or call the tournament office at 843-671-2448 for details and ticket information.

Chip shots. A third-place finish against a strong field in the Valspar Intercollegiate vaulted South Carolina’s men’s squad to 20th in the Golfstat national rankings. The Gamecocks, who compete in the Hootie at Bulls Bay beginning Sunday, finished in front of 10 teams ranked ahead of them, including No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Vanderbilt. ... Danny Hopkins (Murrells Inlet) and Alex Stanek (Conway) joined forces to win the SCGA Senior Four-Ball at Florence CC. ... Clemson’s Ana Paula Valdes and Alice Hewson posted top-four finishes and the Tigers placed eighth in team competition in the Briar’s Creek Invitational at Johns Island. ... Team Ontario outdueled the South Carolina squad 37.5-34.5 in the Can-Am Junior Team Matches at Murrells Inlet. ... In the Georgia-South Carolina high school matches at Peachtree City, Georgia, Bishop England (Daniel Island topped the Palmetto State teams with a fourth-place finish. Zach Reuland (Rock Hill) won the individual title.