Ask any of the PGA Tour golfers who regularly tee it up at the RBC Heritage what makes the tournament so special and the subject of family is bound to come up.
The laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere of Hilton Head Island is the perfect place to wind down after the pressure cooker that is the Masters. Many golfers bring the whole family, rent a house in Sea Pines, and enjoy everything our island has to offer.
And sometimes the kids who once walked Harbour Town Golf Links while their dads played the Heritage wind up in the field themselves.
Video by Carlo Perruzza
Take the Love family, for example. Five-time Heritage champion Davis Love III recalls playing in the pluff mud as a 5-year-old while his father played the inaugural Heritage in 1969, and Dru Love remembers stopping for milkshakes at the hospitality house on No. 10 before rushing to catch up to dad’s group a couple holes later.
Now they’re playing the tournament together for the first time.
“Here it’s more about family and enjoying the hospitality of Hilton Head and Sea Pines,” Davis Love III said. “We stay with a friend over on the beach, and they may kick us out because the family is getting bigger and bigger. We have two granddaughters this year instead of one.
“For everybody else it’s a vacation. Dru and I have to go out and keep score, but it’s just a special week all around.”
The nostalgia is especially thick this year for the 50th playing of the Heritage – all on the same golf course. Pete Dye’s unique track has survived the test of time, rewarding accuracy and creativity even in an era when everything else about the game is trending toward rewarding the longest hitters.
That’s what makes it a favorite among PGA Tour players, especially the shorter hitters who don’t have a realistic chance to win many events on tour.
“It’s so neat that this course has stood the test of time without becoming a long golf course,” said Sam Saunders, the grandson of golf legend and inaugural Heritage champion Arnold Palmer. “We all know that it’s tight, you have to put the ball in the right spots.”
Saunders hopes some of the tips his famous grandfather gave him for attacking Harbour Town might help him earn his first PGA Tour win and a tartan jacket to match The King’s.
“I play a lot of tournaments that he won, but unfortunately a lot of them are not on the same course that he actually played,” Saunders said. “So for it to be the course he played on and won, would just make it that much more special.
“It’s such a neat opportunity for me to be here in a way representing my grandfather and what he did here and what he’s continued to do for the game of golf. This tournament has done such a wonderful job paying tribute to him. And I’m just excited to be a part of all of it.”
Fitting for an event whose reputation has been built around family.