The annual PGA tournament held for half a century on Hilton Head Island is a big attraction, not just for long-time golf fans, but for budding ones, too.
Each year the tournament seems to add more activities aimed at kids and incorporates ways they can interact with the players.
This year, the RBC Heritage, which in 2018 alone gave more than $3.3 million to charitable organizations, expanded its Plaid About Reading program to include Charleston area schools along with Beaufort County. Students from 26 schools in grades K-5 across the Lowcountry read more than 1 million pages in the two-week program and earned a chance to win tickets, money for their school and putt with PGA TOUR pros at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing Golf Tournament at Coca-Cola Youth Day on Tuesday, April 16. This year, more than 400 kids practiced their putting with the pros through Youth Day. The day wrapped up with a movie on the lawn for families.
Okatie Elementary School was the overall winner by reading the most pages and received $500. The classes that read the most pages won $150, and students from the winning classes won two tickets each to attend the tournament and participate in Coca-Cola Youth Day festivities.
There’s also a small putt-putt course near hole 17 this year for children to practice their skills. Kids ages 13 and older can earn volunteer hours by walking the tournament with score signs. Several sports teams take part in trash pickup and work as parking assistants to earn a charitable donation from the tournament.
Practice round days are very popular for families, tournament spokesperson Angela McSwain said. “The pros are more relaxed, not competing, and they’re more apt to give autographs,” she said.
McSwain said they aim to please families because generations have made the tournament a tradition. “So many grew up as kids coming and now they’re taking their kids, who are taking their kids,” she said.
Once families visit the tournament, she said, they’re hooked. In fact, 85 percent of the tournament's spectators are repeat spectators.
“Hilton Head in general is a family place. You ride your bikes, go to the beach. It’s that same vibe here at the tournament. It’s really relaxed,” McSwain added.
This year marks the 51st year for the tournament on Hilton Head. Each year the RBC Heritages pumps more than $96 million into South Carolina’s economy. In 2018, 135,000 people attended.