Started as much as a marketing ploy to promote the not yet finished Sea Pines Resort in 1969, Charles Fraser really got something put together with a wing and a prayer. The volunteers helped and are the heart and soul of The Heritage as were islanders who invited players over for dinner and parties just like they had always been old friends. Of course, over the years some of the winners certainly helped gain notoriety for the tournament (such as Arnold Palmer Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer, Johnny Miller, Greg Norman, Nick Price, Tom Watson and the late Payne Stewart and also Davis Love III who has won it five times.) When the tournament moved to the week after the pressure cooker that is known as The Masters, our tournament was the Anti-Masters, a time for the players to relax with their families or to enjoy drinks with the fans at the Quarterdeck after their round.
For the past 43 years whatever names the tournament has gone under from Sea Pines Heritage Classic to MCI to World Com to Verizon, for everyone that has been here for any length of time, it has always just been The Heritage. This year’s purse will be $5.7 million and the winner will take home $1,026,000 while local charities have benefited from more than $20 million since 1987. That’s great for a tournament that is still trying to pin down a sponsor for 2012 and keep up the tradition going for another 43 years. And we need to, as the economic impact to the Lowcountry and the state of SC is more than $81 million.
The Heritage this year looks to be again another fantastic time – we look to have “Chamber of Commerce kind of weather” with average temperatures of 77 for the highs and lows around 64 -pretty darn perfect. And that brings us to another subject – clothes, as the Heritage is a great place for people watching. Everything from little bitty sundresses and high heels (not the easiest to navigate the course in) to garish golf pants, but a lot of people know to dress for comfort as you are walking and standing all day and use lots of sunscreen. Most of all, it seems to be a time to reunite with old friends or make new ones for the day, oh and have a cocktail or two with them. A friend of mine from Canada thinks it is the greatest golf tournament “because spectators go on and off the course and it isn’t just about great golf but a good time too”. We have a saying here “Who invited the golfers to our cocktail party” and it holds true as you are watching golf, you also setting up where to meet next, whether it is a hospitality tent, a sponsors villa or ending up at the Quarterdeck for sunset.
The opening ceremonies were yesterday and the pictures attached show Jim Furyk hitting the ceremonial shot into the Calibogue Sound along with all the pomp and circumstance that went along with it. Follow along this week as we give quick updates from The Heritage.