The annual Heritage golf tournament on Hilton Head Island has often been called one of the best parties on the PGA Tour.
In fact, I’ve seen it ranked second only to the Waste Management Phoenix Open — which is apparently referred to as the “Wasted Open” or the “Young and the Wasted Open,” and is where attendees, I assume, eventually make very good use of the sponsor’s particular vocational talents.
(Scottsdale, am I right?)
On Hilton Head, I’d like to think the party is just a touch more classy than that and a lot less biologically hazardous. But as anyone who has been to Heritage can tell you, the Lowcountry knows how to get down.
Though the “party” can be as simple as strolling the course with friends and a bloody mary or vodka tonic in hand, golf-enthusiasts and golf-who-cares-ists know that attending an actual house party is the foundation of any true Heritage experience.
While most Heritage party hosts began their planning on the Monday after Heritage last year, there’s still some time to pull it together.
Here are some suggestions for throwing a Heritage party that people will talk about … in a mostly good way:
First, hit up Pinterest and pin every iteration of Arnold Palmer-flavored foods that you can find. Arnold Palmer Jello shots? Yes. Arnold Palmer-frosted cupcakes? Of course.
When you’re done with that, you’ll need at least four versions of golf “club” sandwiches, cookies shaped like golf bags, one to two DIY door wreaths involving tees, one “Keep Calm and Carry Your Own Golf Clubs” sign, cake pops that look like golf balls, bogey hoagies, more bogey hoagies, bunting made of astroturf … this party is going to be a hole in one!
Now take seven to 13 minutes to wonder who these people with all this time to make tiny golf-themed food actually are.
Then call for help.
I talked to Bess Soper, of Bess’ Delicatessen and Catering on Hilton Head, who has been providing food for Heritage parties for about 34 years now. She says to stick with easy-to-eat foods and that Lowcountry-themed fare is always a hit. And since people will likely be drinking, consider some heavy hors d’oeuvres among the lighter brunch-y dishes.
”People always love Lowcountry baked shrimp, any sort of local seafood,” Soper said. “I’ve also do a lot of beef tenderloin and citrus mini crab cakes.”
An important thing to keep in mind, she said, is whether kids are going to attend your party. If so, you need to make sure you have some dishes they’ll like, too.
“If the little children aren't happy, neither are the mamas.”
Next, let’s invite your guests — which means it’s time to decide on whether you want to control what they wear.
“Must have on tartan for entrance” is a tempting idea. It’s fun to watch people do what you tell them to do. And those party pictures are going to look fantastic if everyone is just a little mad for plaid.
While I usually abhor parties that demand a themed attire, donning some Heritage-friendly accessories really does seem to get people in the spirit.
Hit up area consignment shops or even eBay for some unique accessories to have on hand for the guests who refuse to play (golf) ball. The best items I’ve seen out there are fingerless tartan gloves — Madonna style — and a tartan sash a la Miss America.
One of my all-time favorite Heritage party ideas, though, is the “Shhhhhh” sign.
Normally parties don’t need a “Shhhhhh” sign, but if you’re hosting a to-do on the course, you absolutely should consider it.
It’s one thing to be known as the “second-best” party town on the PGA Tour, but no one wants a reputation as a place where the party interferes with the golfers’ concentration.
For five years, Anne Kacmarski of Hilton Head hosted a Heritage party along with her friends on the fifth fairway.
When things got rowdy that first year, the marshals let them know.
So the next year, Kacmarski and company were prepared with a really cute and polite way to let their guests know that the ball was in play.
“We made ‘Hush, Y’all’ signs on Lilly (Pulitzer) paper,” she said. “We would walk around with them when we needed everyone to be quiet.”
My No. 1 Heritage party-hosting tip doesn’t involve golf ball centerpieces or drink garnishes speared with golf tees — though that sounds adorable.
It’s all about the bug spray.
Good Heritage party hosts know that the no-see-ums will get you. Nobody wants their guests bent over scratching at their ankles the whole time.
I recommend a variety of sprays be placed throughout your backyard and by your backdoor. When alcohol runs low, your guests can drink the spray.
We’ll let Scottsdale test that one out.