5 Things You Need to Know: RBC Heritage

It’s not easy being a tournament held the week after a major. The pros put so much focus and effort on those four big events that it can be tough for them to recharge just days later.

But this week’s PGA Tour stop, the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C., boasts a solid field, and like the Masters Tournament that precedes it, offers up a spiffy jacket to the victor. Here are five things you need to know about the RBC Heritage and its surrounding area:

The course is short but tricky
Harbour Town Golf Links runs only 7,101 yards (par 71) – by comparison, the tour’s courses the three previous weeks have all measured more than 7,400 yards – but skinny fairways and small greens make up for the lack of length. World No. 16 Matt Kuchar will attempt to defend his title while fending off the likes of Masters champion Jordan Spieth (No. 2), Jim Furyk (No. 10), Billy Horschel (No. 19) and Zach Johnson (No. 23). The winner gets a sharp-looking tartan jacket.

Graeme McDowell 600

Graeme McDowell (Getty Images)

There’s plenty more great golf
Hilton Head Island has long been known as a golf mecca. So you won’t be able to play Harbour Town this week, but there are two other courses that, with Harbour Town, make up the Sea Pines Resort: Heron Point and the Ocean Course. Down the road is Long Cove Club, which ranked No. 8 on Golf Digest’s 2013-14 list of best South Carolina courses (Harbour Town was No. 3). And then just a bit farther down the road is Palmetto Dunes, a resort featuring three more award-winning courses.

Long Cove Club 600

Long Cove Club (photo courtesy of Long Cove Club)

Climb the Harbour Town Lighthouse
Sitting just beyond the 18th green at Harbour Town is the Hilton Head’s iconic red-and-white-striped lighthouse. The 90-foot tower is open to the public and features 114 steps up to the balcony, where you get beautiful views of Calibogue Sound. As you climb the steps, you’re walking through the lighthouse’s museum, featuring relics and photos that show the history of Hilton Head. Before trudging back down, take a look inside the Shop at the Top, the lighthouse’s official gift shop boasting a bevy of handcrafted crystal souvenirs.

Lighthouse 600

Harbour Town Lighthouse (photo courtesy of IJGT)

Eat, drink and be merry at the Skull Creek Boathouse
For lunch, happy hour or dinner, you can’t go wrong with the Skull Creek Boathouse. Grab a seat on the waterfront restaurant’s patio to take in the live music and spectacular sunsets. Or saddle up to the Dive Bar, which features fresh sushi and oysters. Or if you want to avoid the mosquitoes, sit inside the restaurant and still enjoy the ocean views, your surf and turf, or the boat drinks.

Venture into the forest
Being a coastal community, Hilton Head offers all the usual activities: water sports, boat tours, bike riding, etc. Yet it also offers forest exploration, if that’s your thing. If it’s not, why not make it your thing while you’re in town? At the Sea Pines Forest Preserve there’s the Indian Shell Ring, which is the site of a 4,000-year-old Indian village; a colony of nesting wading birds in spring and summer; and a boardwalk through the Vanishing Swamp, which is a secluded forest where the surface water rises and falls through the seasons. Not something you see every day.

Sea Pines Forest Preserve 600

Sea Pines Forest Preserve (photo courtesy of flickr.com)