HILTON HEAD, SC (WSAV) – The Heritage Classic Foundation announced the 53rd annual RBC Heritage will take place with limited spectators on-site, and strict health and safety protocols in place.
The Heritage Classic Foundation says they have worked with the Town of Hilton Head, the State of South Carolina, and the PGA TOUR to develop a plan that includes a limited number of sponsors and fans in the open air and socially-distanced settings.
“We are the biggest show in town. We are the biggest sporting event in South Carolina,” said Tournament Director Steve Wilmot. “that’s why its important we come back.”
Back with 20-25% of the usual 135,000 fans on Harbourtown. Not perfect, said Wilmot, but a big step forward compared to last year’s tournament, which was played three months later than its usual date and with no spectators.
“Last year is not where we wanted to be but it was an opportunity,” said Wilmot. “This isn’t where we wanted to be this year, but we have to get back, and it is going to take some time COVID is not going away overnight, more people are getting vaccinated and hopefully it will be better but it just shows we are back, we are open for business. And when I say we it’s not just the tournament it’s the community.”
The tournament has implemented a number of new protocols to keep everyone safe during the event.
The skyboxes and private hospitality venues will be replaced with open-air villages and concession areas.
The use of facial coverings will be mandatory for the event.
Officials say permanent and temporary structures will have complete daily sanitization.
Wilmot says the 1200 tournament volunteers have all been contacted, and almost all of them want to come back even with the new regulations.
The rules and regulations may still change some, but all will have a goal of staying safe and allowing the best fan experience possible.
“Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson going down 18, people are going to want to watch them,” explains Wilmot. “So that is something that we will have to deal with. Our marshals, we have some committees that will be. mask up. Social distance, keep moving. It is not going to be the Disney experience, but it’s going to be different.”
Different but still a step in the right direction, and a big step toward the $102 million annual income South Carolina usually gets from the weekly event.
SERG Restaurant Group says its sales usually rise about 10% during the tournament.
Business at Guiseppi’s Pizza in Sea Pines rises a lot more than that, as spectators pass by for slice before and after play. Even with reduced crowds, the manager is still excited about anyone on the course and in their seats.
“With them coming back it will be big for them, big for us with all the customers coming in for us from all different towns. that’s the best thing about it,” said Michael Branson, Guiseppi’s kitchen manager.
The tournament takes place April 12-18
With fewer tickets available for distribution, the Heritage Classic Foundation plans to work first with the tournament’s official partners, then open sales to past ticket buyers.
For updates on tickets available to the general public, visit www.rbcheritage.com.