The tournament, set for Thursday through Sunday, is a favorite among players, their families and spectators, with the scenic layout giving views of Calibogue Sound, its surrounding marshes, and the maritime forest out of which Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus carved a golf course in the late 1960s.
The 50th anniversary marks a milestone that tournament director Steve Wilmot attributes to a collaborative spirit shared by the Hilton Head Island community, government entities and the Harbour Town staff.
“We’re blessed to be able to hold this tournament every year on this beautiful course,” Wilmot said. “This really is a community effort on every front. Businesses, residents, our staff and volunteers, along with state and local government all collaborate to make this a showcase event for our state.”
This year’s field will include defending champion Wesley Bryan, a former University of South Carolina golfer and first S.C. native to claim the plaid jacket given to tournament winners. Other notable names include Dustin Johnson, also an S.C. native and the No. 1-ranked player in the world; former Masters Tournament champion Danny Willett; and past Heritage champions Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Brandt Snedeker and Davis Love III. Love holds the Heritage record, with five titles.
The Heritage sits in its customary spot on the PGA Tour calendar, a week after the tour’s most prestigious event, the Masters. While that means some top players skip Hilton Head Island to rest after the pressure of and preparation for the season’s first major, others look forward to the short trip from Augusta, where the Masters is held, to the S.C. coast.
“Especially the international players, they see us as an opportunity to play two tournaments back-to-back in close proximity to one another,” Wilmot said. “They bring their families and make it a vacation. We make every attempt to engage the players and their families with first-class day care facilities, dolphin cruises, crabbing with the kids and many other activities.”
First-round play on the 7,099-yard, par-71 layout begins Thursday morning and concludes with the final round on Sunday. Practice rounds finish up today, and the pro-am tournament is Wednesday. The purse for the tournament is $6.7 million, with $1.2 million going to the winner.