Boeing 787 Dreamliner flies over 18th hole during 2016 Heritage
The final sponsorship piece to sustain the PGA Tour’s annual visit to Hilton Head Island fell into place Thursday, as aerospace conglomerate Boeing signed a five-year extension to remain as presenting sponsor of the RBC Heritage.
The new agreement runs through the 2021 edition of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. Last month, banking giant RBC locked in its affiliation with South Carolina’s largest sporting event for an additional six years through 2023.
“It’s a great day,” tournament director Steve Wilmot said. “I’ve now had two Christmases this summer, so it’s all good.”
RBC and Boeing first teamed up as sponsors five years ago, stepping in to rescue the Heritage Classic from a possible shutdown after going more than a year without sponsorship. The tournament will celebrate its 50th edition in two years.
Next year’s tournament is set for April 13-16 at Harbour Town Golf Links, where Branden Grace is expected to defend his title. The tournament also will feature a higher payout, with a $6.5 million purse that represents a bump of $600,000 from last spring.
“Boeing’s commitment to South Carolina and our tournament is a win-win-win for everybody,” Wilmot said. “They’re committed to the event and the efforts of the Heritage Classic Foundation. They like to be involved in first-class events.”
Boeing has operated in South Carolina for more than a decade, with a 141-acre campus in North Charleston that includes final assembly of its 787 Dreamliner. The manufacturer, with roots and a continuing major presence in Seattle, also sponsors a Champions Tour event there and similarly announced a five-year extension for the Boeing Classic.
Though the Boeing extension comes up two years shorter than RBC’s, Wilmot expressed confidence that wouldn’t be an obstacle down the road.
“We’ll figure out 2022 and ’23,” he said. “Hopefully when we get into it a year or two, they’ll be excited about our 50th anniversary and we’ll be at a point where we can line those things up. ... We have some things to work out, but it’s all very positive.”
With sponsorship now locked in, the tournament’s only major item of unfinished business is an extension to keep Harbour Town as the only home it has ever known.
“Obviously we don’t foresee any problem,” Wilmot said. “It’s where we want to be. They want us there. Hopefully we’ll have it wrapped up soon.”
The iconic Sea Pines layout made its formal debut with the first Heritage Classic in 1969, as builder Pete Dye kept adding final touches right up to the first tee times.