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This event has grown from humble beginnings as the Heritage Classic into one that has consistently attracted a top field.

In 1969 when Sea Pines developer Charles Fraser announced that a PGA-level tournament would be held at the newly created Harbour Town Golf Links over Thanksgiving weekend, people were dubious. Then when Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus (who had helped legendary golf course designer Pete Dye lay out the course) committed to play, people began to realise the Heritage Classic was going to be something special. Palmer went on to win the inaugural event, his first victory in 14 months.

Now the RBC Heritage is held the week after The Masters, with the original purse of $100 000 growing to $20-million. In late 2023, the PGA Tour announced that the tournament would be one of eight Signature Events, which are limited-field tournaments offering increased purses and FedExCup points. The fields, which range from roughly 70-80 players in size, are made up of the top performers from the previous and current seasons. Five of the Signature Events, including the RBC Heritage, will not have a cut.

Each year, more than 100 000 spectators arrive to watch the best golfers in action, and in 2023 they were treated to something special when Matt Fitzpatrick prevailed over defending champion Jordan Spieth in a dramatic three-hole, sudden-death playoff after the duo had both finished on 17 under par.

The Englishman clinched his second PGA Tour victory by taking dead-aim at the pin and hitting a 9-iron to less than a foot on the 18th – the pair’s third playoff hole. That very same club highlighted the 18th hole of Fitzpatrick’s Major championship victory at the 2022 US Open.

“I think I can retire now,” laughed Fitzpatrick after his victory. “This is the one I’ve always wanted to win. Besides the Majors, there isn’t a higher one on my list, and that’s the truth.”

The legend of the Fitzpatrick family’s love affair with Hilton Head Island was well chronicled. Russell and Sue went there on holiday from England in 2000 when their sons Matt and Alex were six and two, respectively. They loved it so much they made the trip countless more times to enjoy the South Carolina Lowcountry.

“This place is just a special place for me,” Fitzpatrick added, “and it means the world to have won it.”


Check out every shot from the playoff between Fitzpatrick and Spieth at the 2023 RBC Heritage.

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The RBC Heritage is unique in many ways. It starts like no other event on the PGA Tour, with the past champion, Heritage Classic Foundation board members, volunteers and state dignitaries parading around the Harbour Town Yacht Basin to the sounds of the Citadel’s Pipe and Drum band.

The past champion is presented with his Captain of Gentlemen Golfers plaque and continues the tradition of using an authentic hickory club to hit a featherie-style golf ball into the Calibogue Sound in unison with a cannon shot. Those shots officially signal the start of tournament week and are a re-enactment of a Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews tradition dating to at least the mid-18th century.

The event is also about much more than golf, with the non-profit organisation, the Heritage Classic Foundation, helping raise $25-million towards local community educational and charitable initiatives, which range from supporting college scholarships to early childhood education, since it became title sponsor in 2012. This brought the total distributed since 1987 to $50-million.

Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island is one of three 18-hole courses at the Sea Pines Resort in South Carolina.

This top-ranked, public golf course was designed by the legendary Pete Dye and is renowned for its small sloping greens, abundant water and sand hazards, and tight, narrow fairways. There is a very small margin of error between the greens on water hazards on several of the holes on this par-71 course.

The standout holes include the 9th, which is a tight par four that can be reached from the tee with a long drive. The two finishing holes are along Calibogue Sound, so the water line can vary due to changing tides. The hazard line is permanent, but shots can be played off the sand at low tide. The wind off the water must be factored on these two holes, with the par-three 17th playing south-west and usually into a headwind.

The 18th is the signature hole and heads northwards, with its left side guarded by the sound and the right lined with out-of-bounds stakes. The red-and-white striped Harbour Town lighthouse forms the backdrop and is often a good target for approach shots to the green.


The RBC Heritage celebrated its 50th anniversary in April 2018. See what a few of the past champions had to say about the beloved tournament.

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The 2023 champion is certainly a fan of Harbour Town Golf Links, saying: “I just like the design of the golf course. I like the area. I think it's a really tough, fair test. If you hit the ball well tee to green, you get rewarded.

“That's why I like the golf course. Even though I've not had my best results around here, it's high on my list to come and play every year. Aside from Augusta, it's my favorite golf course. It really is.”