THE HERITAGE COURSE AT SEA PINES
This PGA Tournament celebrates the professional golf experience on South Carolina's top rated golf course on Sea Pines Plantation - Harbour Towne Golf Links. All players remember the southeast Heritage on the 18th hole with Seapines Plantation's famous lighthouse towering nearby.
This PGA Tour annual stop in Hilton head began in 1969 as the Heritage Classic but in 1987 the golf event was renamed. MCI Communications Corporation began sponsoring the event changing its name to the MCI Heritage.
The dates were November 27-30, 1969, Thanksgiving Weekend, and innovative Sea Pines designer Charles Fraser gave the first tournament on the newly created Harbour Town Golf Links a traditional twist by calling it the "Heritage Classic".
Back then, nearly everyone had to reach for a map to discover Hilton Head’s whereabouts. Would anyone show up on Thanksgiving Weekend, especially to a remote, unknown spot? And would the world’s top golfers want to be challenged by a new, unfamiliar course?
Still the best in the game came. The King, Arnold Palmer, and the equally great Jack Nicklaus, who helped design Harbour Town along with young Pete Dye, were among the first to commit.
Then, good fortune smiled on the Harbour Town Golf Links when Palmer went on to win that initial Heritage, his first victory in 14 months, and the media did the rest by cranking out volume of glowing copy about Arnold’s victory, Dye's superb, new links course as well as Hilton Head Island.
Since that humble beginning, the tournament, of course, has changed with the times. From those early Thanksgiving dates, it's been moved to a more advantageous date, the week after the Masters in April. It's undergone several name changes and is now firmly entrenched through 2010 as the "Verizon Heritage".
The growth of the tournament has been fabulous. The purse mushroomed from the original $100,000 (with Palmer winning only $20,000) to last April's $5.5 million with Boo Weekley receiving $990,000. The crowds and media exposure have also kept pace. Some 135,000 fans attend the tournament each year, with CBS and The Golf Channel blocking out 12 hours of live TV coverage. These TV signals are transmitted globally to Europe, South America and the Orient. All of this exposure, of course, translates into a stream of tourism and sales that pump the economics of both Hilton Head Island and the State of South Carolina. A 2005 Clemson Economic Impact Study said the tournament infuses $84 million into the state each and every year.
The tournament is proud of its champions, some of the most distinguished players in golf’s history. In addition to Arnold Palmer; Jack Nicklaus, Bernhard Langer, Johnny Miller Greg Norman, Nick Price, Tom Watson, Davis Love III and the late Payne Stewart are just a few of the names inscribed upon our champions' trophy.