RBC Heritage choreographs an ever-growing vehicle ballet
The best thing about the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing is that it gets a little better every year.
This year, one big improvement will be parking. Hilton Head Island officials and tournament planners came up with a plan this year to accommodate parking for the 100,000 people who enjoy tournament week. That’s a lot of cars.
They added a second shuttle on the south end of the island and extended all shuttle hours to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday, much later than last year’s cut off just after the last round.
Attendees can catch the shuttle either at Coligny Beach or the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn. Parking and the shuttles are free. Shuttles begin at 6:30 a.m. and run until 9:30 p.m. You do not have to have a tournament ticket to ride the shuttles, so more people can enjoy the energy that stems from Hilton Head’s biggest party.
Shuttles will drop you off at the heart of the event in Harbour Town.
The new shuttle from Coligny is perfect for island residents. And the later hours give tournament-goers plenty of time to enjoy the post-round festivities with thousands of fellow golf fans as they mingle around Sea Pines. After all, it’s the local shops, restaurants and pubs that make Hilton Head unique and the Heritage special.
The new plan is likely to make a lot of people happy.
“We’re very excited to embark on a new joint venture between ourselves, the RBC Heritage and the Town of Hilton Head Island,” said Coligny Plaza owner JR Richardson. “It not only helps locals and visitors get in and out of the tournament with ease, it also gives them so much more to do and experience before and after the tournament.”
Not to worry, parking will be reserved for those headed to the beach or to Coligny-area businesses.
“Everyone wins with this new service. Fans have a new option for getting there, tournament officials offer an additional parking resource, and south end businesses get to see an even greater bump during the tournament," said Hilton Head Island town manager Steve Riley.
It’s a vast improvement over years past.
For much of the tournament’s 48-year history, thousands of cars streamed into Sea Pines in pursuit of a course-side parking spot. It meant residents of Sea Pines were essentially trapped in their homes for a week, peering out their windows at gridlock from dawn to dark.
But then Mother Nature intervened in 2014 by pelting the island with inches of rain that turned Sea Pines lots and lawns into mud bogs that sucked up some cars to their axles. Tournament organizers enlisted their back-up plan for the second half of the tournament and deployed shuttles from drier areas, like the high school and Honey Horn.
They used that plan again in 2015, making the Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn the parking area. Sea Pines residents were elated.
However, the free shuttles ran from 30 minutes before the first tee times to until just after the last round ended. That meant most spectators streamed north to their cars immediately after play ended for the day and didn’t return — leaving local businesses high and dry each evening.
Tournament planners recognized this problem and added the second shuttle spot and extended free shuttle hours this year.
The bike brigade
Along with improving life for motorists, the tournament has rolled out the welcome mat for bikes, too.
Over the past couple of years, a number of bike racks have popped up around Sea Pines like mushrooms after a heavy rain. (Maybe we shouldn’t say rain when talking about the tournament.)
This year, the racks will be concentrated in two areas:
- At the tennis courts on Lighthouse Road before you get to the Harbour Town pool.
- Next to the 13th hole on Baynard Park Road
You also can bike to either shuttle spot, too, and catch a ride from there.
However, if you want to ride into Sea Pines, you have to have a tournament ticket to get past the gate.
And in typical Heritage over-the-top-Southern-hospitality-fashion, Kiwanis Club volunteers will help riders get their bikes squared away at any of the above locations so they don’t have to worry about it as they soak up some great golf.
Whether you’re travelling by car, bike or foot, volunteers all along the route will greet you and help you find your way.
It’s just how it’s done here.
Welcome to the Heritage!