The Ultimate Guide to Attending the RBC Heritage
Each year, thousands head to Hilton Head Island to watch the pros dominate the course at The Hilton Head RBC Heritage Golf Tournament. The event is on par with the derby as one of the most popular southern social events of the year, and best part is that it lasts longer than 2 minutes! The scenery of the South Carolina coast, the southern hospitality, and the epic parties create an unforgettable experience all around. Unlike similar events, The RBC Heritage Golf Tournament doesn’t just draw golfers and their fans, but also plenty of party-loving millennials. We’ve laid out this comprehensive guide to tell you everything you need to be prepared for a great week at the tournament. So, start practicing that golf clap, pack your bags (we have some style suggestions), and get ready for the ultimate spring event.
The RBC Heritage, South Carolina’s only PGA tournament, is held during the third week of April, right after the Masters Tournament. In 2018, over 135,000 people attended to celebrate the tournament’s 50th anniversary. Historically, the Harbour Town Golf Links was designed by celebrated architect Pete Dye, with guidance from famous golfer, Jack Nicklaus, in 1969. Since then, it has made frequent appearances on national and global “Best Courses” lists and a remarkable number of legendary players have participated in the tournament including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Hale Irwin, Johnny Miller, Greg Norman, Nick Price and Tom Watson. But the RBC Heritage is far more than a golf tournament — the real winners are the thousands of people's lives that are changed by the charitable donations supporting local communities. The Heritage Classic Foundation charity has distributed millions of dollars to people in need throughout South Carolina and Georgia, as well as to charitable organizations in the arts and medical institutions.
If it’s your first time attending the RBC Heritage, look no further for the ultimate guide to a celebration of all that is plaid, golf, and giving back. Pack up your best polo shirts, practice your putting and get ready for a week to remember.
Where to Stay
There is no shortage of options when it comes to accommodations near the tournament, but keep in mind with the mass number of attendees- rooms do tend to book fast. Here are a handful of our top picks on where to stay.
Sea Pines Resort
Hoping to stay right near the action? As the official RBC Heritage accommodation provider, this resort offers convenient access to the Harbour Town Clubhouse and special packages just for Heritage attendees. With a prime location along 5,000 oceanfront acres, the Sea Pines Resort has snagged a slew of accolades over the years: one of the Best Resorts in the Americas in the 2017 Golf Digest Editors' Choice Awards and being included in Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List of The World's Best Places to Stay. The historic resort, which opened more than 50 years ago, offers amenities such as a complimentary shoe-shine service for all guests, so you can look sharp on the course and bike rentals to get you to-and-from the course.
Racquet Club Villas
Many of these spacious and comfortable villas, which are mere steps away from the RBC Heritage and directly across the street from Harbour Town, feature lagoon views from a private balcony or patio. Select villas are even pet friendly! If you need a break from the tournament, there’s plenty to do on the Racquet Club grounds too- you could take a dip in the on-site swimming pool or play a match on the tennis courts. Plus, the villas are a short walk to the Sea Pines Center, which is a go-to for dining and shopping.
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island
Get ready to relax resort style! The heated shade pool and zero-entry swimming pool are among the most hyped amenities at this popular resort, which offers impressive views of the lagoon, pool, and tropical gardens. When you need to unwind after a long day at the course, swing by the hotel’s on-site spa, Arum. Many of the spa’s services, including massages, facials and body treatments, feature local products for an authentic Lowcountry experience. Don’t forget to hit up the famous Friday Night Seafood Buffet to fill up on peel-and-eat shrimp, oysters on the half shell, and entrees featuring the day’s fresh catch.
Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa
If you’re looking to hit the links after watching the pros at the Heritage tournament, this resort has three- yes, three- PGA courses, all of which offer picturesque views of Hilton Head Island. The Golf Experience Package is perfect for RCB Heritage attendees and includes a stay in one of the resort’s deluxe rooms (which feature an Atlantic Ocean view), a daily round of golf at the Robert Trent Jones, George Fazio or Arthur Hills course, and a daily breakfast buffet for two. After you’re done playing a round, stop by the on-site Soleil Spa for a specialized sports massage where warm herbal heat packs are used to help promote muscle recovery and prevent injuries. End your evening by wrapping yourself in one of the hotel’s provided plush robes or enjoy a cocktail by the pool bar, Liquid.
What to Pack
Let’s be honest, the RBC Heritage is an event to see and be seen, so give careful consideration to what you pack in your suitcase. April is a great time to visit Hilton Head Island because it’s one of the sunniest months with daily lows in the mid-60s and highs around 76 degrees according to the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce & Visitor and Convention Bureau. Your ideal wardrobe will have pieces that are cool enough to sport comfortably during the middle of the afternoon when the sun is blazing, but also some layers to throw on when the temperature drops at night. As for the overall vibe, The Island Packet describes it as a balance between “clubhouse-sophisticated and yacht-party fun.”
In 2018, South Carolina-based Southern Tide became the official style sponsor of the tournament. The apparel brand’s laid-back coastal look is a perfect match for the festivities. You’ll see RBC Heritage staff and volunteers wearing gear from Southern Tide’s performance collection of golf polos, lightweight jackets and fitted hats. Southern Tide also designed a custom Heritage T-shirt inspired by the tournament’s signature tartan plaid. The winner of the event is presented with a tartan plaid jacket every year.)
For the Guys
This is an event where the guys really have an opportunity to play with colors and patterns- but don’t mix and match multiple patterns unless you’re really feeling bold! Start with a pair of colorful shorts or chinos, add a striped or gingham button-down or a men’s polo shirt and finish off the look with a fun belt.
If you’re still stuck on what shirt to wear, keep in mind that Southern Tide’s namesake shirt is its Skipjack Polo, making it a perfect pick. In breathable pique fabric with a hint of stretch, it’s a classic that you’re bound to get plenty of wear out of throughout your trip and keep in your closet as a staple for years to come. Polos are practical, stylish and some even feature innovative technology such as the Performance Polos with Brrr cooling technology. You’ll be outside a lot so don’t forget to pack a hat to help shade yourself from the sun; A performance visor or hat will do just the trick.
RBC Heritage isn’t as formal as many other golf tournament events, allowing the attendees to have more fun with their outfits. Don’t be afraid to wear something bright or loud- you’ll fit right in.
For the Ladies
You can never go wrong with timeless spring styles like seersucker shorts, white jeans, and patterned dresses – they’re perfect for the occasion and sure to get plenty of compliments. These are also the kinds of pieces that you can easily take from the tent parties during the day to the social nighttime events with a simple change of shoes or accessories.
You’ll want to bring along several pairs of shorts for women in a few fun colors like pink, blue and teal in addition to classics such as navy or white. As for tops, a couple of polo shirts, as well as button-downs, can work for a range of situations and dress codes. Colorful, casual dresses are definitely a must; A bright, striped T-shirt dress will do for daytime, while a striped linen shift dress is sure to turn heads at dinner. Sandals and flip-flops are fine for casual strolls around the island, but cute sneakers are ideal for spending time on the course. Don’t forget a dressier pair of shoes, like leather wedges or espadrilles, for nights out on the town. And you’ll be glad to have a couple of swimsuits on hand in case the weather is warm enough for a beach day, or if your hotel or resort has a swimming pool on site. With all the activities, you’ll probably be craving some relaxation as well so pack a set of comfy clothes perfect for lounging around in.
What to Eat
What’s a coastal getaway without a few indulgent meals? The RBC Heritage has a ton of on-site concession areas throughout the course offering everything from local fare to wines hand-selected by a sommelier. In 2018, the Heritage Classic Foundation announced a new partnership with the Department of Agriculture’s Certified SC Grown program. As a result of that partnership, there will be a plethora of farm-fresh food options sourced right from South Carolina, including oyster po boys and barbecue bowls. If you’re looking for dining options located outside of the greens, read below.
Kick off your day at the Harbour Town Bakery & Cafe to enjoy a tasty quiche of the day, freshly baked pastry or their famous banana walnut pancakes.
Fuel up at Another Broken Egg Cafe, which is known for southern dishes like the lobster and brie omelet, biscuit with country sausage gravy, and the chicken and waffles drizzled with house-made chipotle honey.
Looking for some lighter fare? The Sweet Spot Cafe serves up a variety of vegan dishes like the acai bowl topped with gluten-free granola, the avocado chia pudding, and whole-wheat pancakes. On tap are smoothies and fresh-pressed juices packed with fruits and veggies.
Harbourside Burgers & Brews is the perfect place to grab a casual lunch if you want to stick close to the course. On the menu you’ll find items like peel-and-eat shrimp, a turkey burger, or a jerk mahi-mahi sandwich.
Who says Southern and Asian cuisine don’t mix? If you’re looking for a truly unique lunch, the eclectic menu at Relish can’t be beat. From a low country boil to miso ramen with pork tenderloin, there’s something for everyone.
And of course, don’t forget to try the award-winning snow crab legs at many tourists’ favorite, The Crazy Crab. While looking out at the Harbour Town Marina, take your pick of fried, steamed, or broiled seafood.
Planning a date night? CQ's is the ideal pick for mouthwatering steak and fish — think roasted chicken, braised short ribs, and grilled shrimp all sourced from local farms and waters.
Porter & Pig is an ideal place to enjoy a laid-back dinner. The gastropub’s menu includes a selection of tapas-style plates as well as charcuterie and cheese boards that are perfect for sharing.
You may be itching to fill up on Southern cuisine while you’re on the island, and who can blame you? There’s hardly a better place to get a taste of local cuisine than Lucky Rooster, a rustic-chic bistro that changes its menu with the seasons. The restaurant is known for comfort food with a unique twist. Dishes like fried green tomatoes with pepper jam, pimento mac and cheese, and beer-braised collard greens is what you can expect.
What to Do
The RBC Heritage Tournament hosts a variety of exciting events throughout the week that cater to a range of age groups and interests.
Kick things off by watching the opening ceremonies and a parade, which starts at Liberty Oak at Harbour Town Yacht Basin and wraps up on the 18th green. The parade includes music by Citadel’s Regimental Pipe Band.
If you’ve got kids in tow, you won’t want to miss the putting contest on the second day of the tournament. Children 15 and under will have a rare opportunity to putt right next to the pros at Harbour Town Golf Links. The first 200 to participate are given a complimentary tournament souvenir, and every kid who sinks a putt wins a prize. An annual family movie night on Heritage Lawn follows the contest. If your child is going to be the center of attention on the green, be sure they’re looking their best. The official apparel sponsor of the event, Southern Tide, also offers a collection of boy’s golf apparel such as boys golf polos and shorts.
At the Plaid Nation Contests, you’ll have a chance to flaunt your RBC Heritage pride. The general idea is: the more plaid, the better. In addition to a contest for the “Best Dressed in Plaid,” take part in the hole-in-one competition and trivia contests for a chance to win tickets to next year’s tournament and other sweet golf swag.
On Easter Sunday, attendees are invited to a sunrise service at the Liberty Oak stage, which will include live music and a non-denominational prayer. Every year a PGA Tour golf pro will deliver their own inspirational words at the service.
If you’re interested in architecture and landscaping, don’t forget to scope out the new room dedicated to Pete Dye, an informative multimedia exhibit that celebrates the work of the legendary golf course architect and World Golf Hall of Fame member. On display are videos about his philosophy and career as well as exhibits about the machinery he used to design his spectacular courses.
There’s plenty to do around Hilton Head Island that’s outside of the RBC Heritage Tournament. Whether you prefer lounging on the beach, exploring the many trails that weave throughout the island on bike or playing a tennis match, you’re bound to find plenty of activities to keep you occupied throughout the week. Itching to get active? Consider parasailing and kayaking via H2O Sports. Prefer the land? Check out the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. Hike the trails and check out the wildlife — we’re talking bird watching and alligator spotting. If all of the golf watching gets you inspired to get out on the links yourself, you can scope out one of the many local golf courses to practice your swing.
If you’re more interested in taking in some scenery (and beverages!), hop on one of the happy hour cruises with the Salty Dog. If you don't want to walk but enjoy nature then you can go horseback riding at the Lawton Stables. Craft beer fans can sample some local suds at the Hilton Head Brewing Company or Wooden Skiff Brewing. Those who are eager to shop should head to Coligny Plaza or the Sea Pines Center to pick up some souvenirs. Whether you consider yourself a history buff or just happen to appreciate breathtaking views, make sure to climb the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse; The panoramic view once you reach the top is unforgettable.
Where to Watch
Between the pro golfers making flop shots and the stylish spectators partying all week long, there’s a lot to see during the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament. But knowing where exactly to hit the links or grab drinks can be daunting. Here are the top locations where you can get in on the festivities.
The 15th hole is known for its crowd-pleasing concession area where you can grab a quick bite to eat and a cold beer while watching the tee box at the 16th hole. Of course, the 18th hole offers plenty of action and the best people-watching. Throughout the tournament you’ll spot many hospitality tents. However, according to South magazine, the majority of hospitality tents are for corporate clients only. South magazine advises upgrading to a clubhouse badge, so you can people watch while also keeping tabs on the game from the shade and comfort of the Harbour Town Clubhouse. While you’re there, you can stop by the Pro Shop to browse some new golf apparel or equipment.
If you’re ready to get up close and personal with the pros then, without a doubt, the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament is an unparalleled event— one that promises so much more than an incredible golf-watching opportunity. Now you know all the ins and outs of planning your trip to Hilton Head Island and you can be sure that your first time at this legendary tournament will be an experience to remember.