The RBC Heritage — When Canadians Invade South Carolina
Quick poll. Which kind of jacket would you rather have, green or tartan? Yeah me too. But hey, you’ll be warm and unfashionable with either! We move from Augusta to Hilton Head. It’s the RBC Heritage!
About the Sponsor
You might be wondering why the Royal Bank of Canada is sponsoring a golf tournament in South Carolina. Don’t worry, I am too! Especially since they also are the title sponsor of the RBC Canadian, a much more reasonable sponsorship. Time for some sleuthing!
First thing I found was the PGA Tour’s official announcement of the sponsorship back in 2011 when RBC took over from Verizon. Funny how pretty much all the quotes at the beginning are talking about how good of a sponsor Boeing will be since it has a presence in the Charleston area. In fact, you have to read all the way down until you hit this quote from RBC which explains why they wanted to sponsor the tournament.
“We are very committed to building our brand and serving our growing client base in the U.S. and the RBC Heritage provides very attractive opportunities for our U.S. businesses to reach target markets and foster new business development.”
Unsatisfied with that stock answer, I found another article about the sponsorship that just used the same quote about business opportunities in the US. Is it worth the apparent 8 mil a year to put your name on the event? Maybe. But I think the main thing is that RBC seems to think that people who like banks also like playing golf, since besides the two tournaments they sponsor, they also are sponsors of countless (well not countless since I’m going to list them here) pros: Jason Day, Graham DeLaet, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Adam Hadwin, David Hearn, Brooke Henderson, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Morgan Pressel, Brandt Snedeker, Nick Taylor, and Mike Weir. RBC and golf are apparently a match made in Canada.
Quick note, I was trying to find RBC’s slogan in order to try to work it in here as a joke, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. Not even kidding, RBC’s marketing is so bad that I can’t even find its advertising even though I’m actively looking for it. Also, their website looks straight out of the 90s. Come on RBC, get it together.
About the Tournament
The RBC Heritage has “invitational” status, which differs from normal events on the PGA Tour which have the status “normal” if you couldn’t figure that out on your own. This gives the tournament a few special exemptions from things normal tournaments have to do, including allowing for a limited field of 132ish players as opposed to the normal 156. Another difference is that the Heritage doesn’t need a Monday qualifier as normal events do.
The tournament also has an impressive history of sponsorship, having 11, count them 11, different official names over its history.
RBC Heritage (’12-present)
The Heritage (’11)
Verizon Heritage (’06-’10)
MCI Heritage (’02-’05)
WorldCom Classic – The Heritage of Golf (’01-’02)
MCI Classic (’95-’00)
MCI Heritage Golf Classic (’87-’94)
Sea Pines Heritage (’80-’86)
Sea Pines Heritage Classic (’79)
Heritage Classic (’77-’78)
Sea Pines Heritage Classic (’71-76)
Heritage Golf Classic (’69-’70)
I have a feeling that the Heritage (which is what I’ll refer to it from here on out since that’s the only word that each of tournament title has in common) wins the award for most names for a single PGA Tour event in history. It’s like the first five titles are just permutations on the words. Luckily that’s a fact I can test, so expect to see the history of tournament titles from here on out this season.
About the Course
Designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus (early Nicklaus since he was still on the tour in 1967), Harbour Town Golf Links has hosted the RBC Heritage since 1969. The course is world renowned for its tight fairways, undulating green, Spanish moss on the overhanging trees, and the 18th hole along the ocean with a fairway so wide you could probably land a plane on it. I can’t understand how players can miss that fairway.
Actually, that picture looks a lot tighter than what I remember playing, but I’ll still say you could play a regulation football game in that landing area.
Matt Kuchar won in decently dramatic fashion by holing out from the front bunker on his 72 hole to end up beating Luke Donald by 1 on a windy Sunday. Kuchar had been playing well coming into the Heritage so his win wasn’t too unexpected. He choked away a four shot lead at the 2014 Shell (but that doesn’t mean he didn’t play well to get a four shot lead in the first place) and then finished T5 in the Masters. The only difference between his non-wins and the win at the Heritage is a course that suits him a little better. Shorter, tighter and a little more precision based.
Also of note is Luke Donald’s slide from number one in the world which he held back in 2011 and 2012. His profile on the Official World Golf Ranking site chronicles an impressive tumble from 6th in the world after the 2013 Masters (his earliest counted event since the OWGR takes into account tournaments from the past two years) all the way to his current spot at 52nd in the world. This begs the question, how do the World Golf Rankings actually work? Maybe I should figure that out and do a writeup on that. For now, here’s the wikipedia page.
Oh, and as for my theory on why Donald has fallen so far? Golf is hard. I’ll leave it at that.
What to Watch For
Renovations — Actually, you’ll have to watch for this after the tournament is over. According to the PGA Tour, Harbour Town is going to close for the summer in order to reseed fairways and greens as well as to get a new irrigation system. Probably a good move in the long term since the I find it unlikely that the tour would stop coming to Harbour Town every year, and a golf course needs reseeding every decade or so. Just calm yourself down if you’re watching the tournament this week and find yourself getting inspired to play where the pros play. You’ll have to wait a few months, until at least September. Or, if Sea Pines Resort is anything like the people redoing Wrigley Field, you’ll probably have to wait a few years. Buuuuuuuuuuurn.
Tartan Jackets — Not quite the Green Jacket that Heritage contestant Jordan Spieth won last week, but the RBC Heritage is distinct by giving out tartan jackets to the winner.
I’m sitting here imagining everyone reading this thinking to themselves, “What the hell is tartan? Pretty sure that’s just plaid”. Turns out that everyone is correct! According to the always correct wikipedia, tartan usually refers to the type of fabric, while plaid refers to the pattern on the fabric.
Davis Love III — Shoutout to a guy who has won 5 times! He’s won in three different decades, and even two different millenia! With all those tartan jackets, just imagine how ugly his closet is. Unfortunately, since next year’s Ryder Cup captain isn’t playing the Heritage this year, you can’t actually watch for him. Damn, 2 out of the 4 things I’m telling you to watch for aren’t watchable. Rough week for watching apparently.