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The RBC Heritage: Hitting a ball and having a ball on Hilton Head Island

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RBC Heritage: Hitting a ball and having a ball on Hilton Head Island
A little sand, a little surf, and a lot of golf. That's the recipe for the week of April 15 - 21st, 2013 on Hilton Head Island, otherwise known as Heritage Week around these parts. If you are headed this way as a Heritage player or spectator, let it be known that Hilton Head knows what hospitality and a good time are all about - on and off the greens. Check out this guide to the best of Hilton Head Island, and let the good times roll!

The PGA RBC Heritage Golf Tournament has been played on the famed Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head Island, SC every year since 1969. The host course was designed by Pete Dye, with input from Jack Nicklaus. Known to locals as "The Heritage", South Carolina's only PGA TOUR event. This year's Heritage will be April15 - 21, 2013

The tournament's Pro-Am is a great way to entertain clients as well as spend time with a PGA professional. The price for the Pro-Am event includes a free round of golf, four clubhouse badges, weekly parking pass, gift packages, and much more. The Heritage Classic Foundation is the general sponsor of the tournament. The local support of generous sponsors, helpful volunteers, and countless spectators make this a must attend event every year. Since it was founded in 1987 as a not-for-profit organization, the Foundation has helped thousands of people in need throughout the area and state. In 2012, the Heritage Classic Foundation was honored to donate $1.5 million dollars, bringing the total to more than $23 million since it was organized. Past winners of the Heritage include Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Payne Stewart, Greg Norman, Nick Price, Hale Irwin, Davis Love III, and Jack Nicklaus. A record purse of $5.8 million dollars, with $1,044,000 going to the 2013 winner makes this tournament win, more sought after more than ever.

If you've never played at Harbour Town, give yourself a treat and stay a few days after the tournament to get in a round at this much hailed course. Just walking up the green on the 18th will make you feel like tipping your hat to the invisible crowd.

But, contrary to popular belief, man (and woman) cannot live by golf alone. Hilton Head Island has made it pretty easy to enjoy every moment you are here on our little paradise, from relaxing in great accommodations to hopping on a dolphin tour to getting a champion level massage. So during your trip to experience the Heritage, experience some of these offerings also:

Hilton Head Accommodation Options
Hilton Head Island is a highly sought after resort destination, so it goes without saying that there are plenty of great places to stay, but I will say it anyway - there are plenty of great places to stay on Hilton Head Island. Luxury Hotels, golf villas, ocean front homes, whatever your style, it can be found here.

For great oceanfront hotel accommodations, there are the Westin Resort and Spa, the Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, Sonesta Resort and the Marriott Resort and Spa, along with a host of several smaller or less expensive choices for your stay. The Beach House by Holiday Inn is a nice choice for families, with plenty of white sand beach on which to run and play, while claiming one of the more famous watering holes on the island - specifically, the Tiki Hut. For a quieter and more romantic respite, the Inn at Harbour Town is the height of luxury while the Main Street Inn is beautifully decorated and brimming with hospitality. Hotel rooms are at a premium during the Heritage, and as expected the prices are higher as well. Don't let that scare you - it's not that much more. Besides, you deserve it.

A vacation rental home or villa in Hilton Head is another great way to go when visiting the island during the Heritage. It affords you some additional privacy, extra space, and amazing luxury, if you choose. If you are all about golf, choose a villa on your favorite course. Go watch the pros, then come back to your villa, unpack the cooler, and head out to apply all you learned to your own game. There are also stunning ocean front homes to consider, especially if you are bringing the gang. Private pools and hot tubs, designer decor, gourmet kitchens plus private chefs and maid service are just some of the amenities awaiting you and your very best friends or favorite family members. The island has numerous rental management companies from which to choose, some of the most reliable being Beach Properties, Resort Rentals of Hilton Head Island, The Vacation Company, Hilton Head Vacation Rentals, Hilton Head Rentals and Golf, Sea Turtle Getaways and Destination Vacation.

Probably your best bet would be to go to the most popular web site for vacation rentals which features the top one thousand rental homes and condos on Hilton Head Island, HiltonHeadRentals.com, and let the experts do the work for you. A stress-free Heritage experience is what you are looking for, right?

Dining Tips on Hilton Head
You've got a great place to stay during the Heritage, now, what to eat? While at the tournament, there will be quite a few delectable dining opportunities for you, but face it, you're either in a tent or standing up while you eat. So, here are some options:

Breakfast
Palmetto Bay SunRise Cafe - as the name suggests, they open at sunrise, making this a perfect place for the tournament early bird. They make their own Hollandaise Sauce (this is important to me) and the view isn't bad either. Just around the circle from Sea Pines Resort is Skillets, located in Coligny Plaza. Open at 7 am, and offering a nice menu of your breakfast favorites, Skillets is a great place for a hearty start to your day on the course. If you're really hungry, try "The Kitchen Sink" - no, it's really, really good. If you really want to eat like a local, try Harold's Diner midway down the island right on William Hilton Parkway. We can't really explain Harold's, you just need to go there and eat for yourself.

Lunch
Conveniently located in Sea Pines at the Sea Pines Center, Truffles Cafe is a good spot to try soup, salad and their homemade french bread. Feel like one of the "Rat Pack" at Frankie Bones, located on Main Street on the north end of Hilton Head Island. Great themed-menu items, a full bar and really fun atmosphere make for a nice getaway from the golf course. Skull Creek Boathouse serves up an American and Seafood menu, but it's really all about the view here. No greens, just miles and miles of intra-coastal waterway to gaze at while you dine.

Dinner
For an old tried-and-true favorite, Alexander's in Palmetto Dunes is a great choice for American, Seafood, and a fantastic view. Michael Anthony's is exceptional Italian food. In the mood for a great steak? Crane's Tavern on New Orleans Road has been doing it right for a long time now. Nearly every restaurant here is casual, even if the menu is not - no need for the tux. Just make sure to bring something besides shorts to wear.

The choices for dinner dining are nearly endless, from ethnic to seafood to fast food. However, this is a resort town, and we tend to see a lot of comings and goings on the restaurant scene. I don't want to get you all excited about some place, only to find it no longer exists when you get here. Needless to say, something just as yummy usually takes its place, so no need to worry, you definitely won't go hungry on Hilton Head.

Hilton Head Golf
If watching all that championship golf has given you an itch to get out there and hit a few yourself, Hilton Head Island has around 30 courses to help you scratch it. Here is just a sampling:

The Heritage Collection features 4 locations and a total of 9 courses for you to play. Palmetto Hall has two championship courses, Hilton Head Plantation has one at Oyster Reef, Port Royal has three and Shipyard has three 9-hole courses (in case you only have time for 9, since you are here for the Heritage, aren't you?) all are only a short distance apart and are impeccably maintained. Sea Pines Resort offers the Heron Point and Ocean Courses, just down the way from Harbour Town. Hilton Head National has challenging 9-hole courses and is off the Heritage beaten path a bit, just over the bridge in Bluffton. Everyone is going to try and squeeze a round in while they are here, so try to decide where you want to play before you get here and book as early as they will let you. Don't worry if it rains - you won't melt.

Water Activities
Hilton Head Island is well known for its championship golf courses, but heck, did you check the name? It is an ISLAND, so you better believe there are plenty of opportunities to grab some sun, surf and fish while you are here. Hilton Head Island Tours offers everything from Kayak tours to charter fishing excursions. These guys are all about the great outdoors, especially the part that is all wet, and can even plan a day-long excursion for groups or families. Commander Zodiac will give you the coolest dolphin tour ever, as you speed along in these cool little red boats designed for water rescue operations. Great guides, and a fun ride between dolphin sightings. They also rent jet skis and offer indulgent kids programs as well.

There are just a million and one things to do on the water, including sitting on one of the white sand beaches and just looking at it. Be careful, you may never get back to the tournament.

World Class Tennis Courts
As much as we love our golf here on Hilton Head Island, we really do love our tennis too. You won't need to travel far to find one of hundreds of the well maintained tennis courts here. Shipyard Plantation is home to world renowned Van Der Meer Tennis Academy, so everyone can look good on the court. Palmetto Dunes and Port Royal also sport beautiful tennis facilities. Clay or hard court, day or night, we have a tennis court for you. Yes, we take tennis pretty seriously here, we even have a court named after the great (and local) Stan Smith. That doesn't mean you can't have a little fun and play a match or two. Just don't let Stan see you, it could get embarrassing.

Nightlife
After a day in the sun at Harbour Town, a fun night on the island is around every corner (wait, islands don't have corners, do they?) Anyway, the choices for your night time activities are endless on Hilton Head. There are several sports bars where you can relive the day's tournament activities and have a cold beer. For some sweet sounds, check out the Jazz Corner in the Village at Wexford. Shelter Cove has a number of places right on the water that you can walk to. And if you are feeling a little on the wild side, check out the area fondly known as the Barmuda Triangle - just outside the gates of Sea Pines. You can catch a local band or guitar strumming singer almost any night of the week, inside or out.

There are three movie theater complexes on the island for a more subdued evening out, and you'll feel downright cultured with tickets to a local theatrical production. The South Carolina Repertory Company, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and Main Street Youth Theater are all here, and at least one of them will have something entertaining for you to view during your Heritage visit.

Plus, there is always just taking a stroll on the beach - it's a lot less crowded than during the day, and the sound of the tides is the perfect lullaby. Just remember napping on the beach is all right - making it your hotel room is not.

Tourist Attractions
Well, let's see... we have a big ocean, and lots of white sand beaches, and dolphins and championship golf courses. Do you need anything else? Here are some options in case you are one of those hard to please sorts.

You really should check out the unofficial symbol of Hilton Head Island, the Harbour Town Lighthouse, while you are at the Heritage. It's just at the end of the road, and it doesn't take all that long to climb to the top and check out the amazing view of beach, ocean and greens. There's a neat little gift shop to wander through at the top, as you try to hide while you catch your breath. The Liberty Oak Tree is a fabulous spot for a photo, and during the summer is the place to be with the kids for fun filled concerts. There may well be some entertainment under those century old boughs during the Heritage also - check it out when you get here.

The Coastal Discovery Museum is small, but is a great place for all you out-of-towners to learn about the local flora and fauna, as well as our island's history. There are signs of Hilton Head's involvement in the Civil War and the Gullah influence in several areas on the island. For a deeper understanding of its roots, make sure to take one of the many tours offered. Plus, the Museum's nature tours are not to be missed. Unless you're playing golf, of course. We know your priorities.

Take in the island beauty and when as you bicycle through the over 50 miles of public bike paths that weave in and around the island. Ride though pines, palmettos and Spanish moss-draped live oaks, as well as gorgeous marshes and lagoons. The terrain is easy on the legs, even little guys with little bikes can handle it. If you are feeling really adventurous, historic Savannah, Georgia is only about an hour's drive from the island (go during the off hours). For a taste of the true South, you can stroll by stunning architecture, mossy oaks and monuments to the town's history. If you go, make time for a cemetery tour in this very haunted city and take lots of pictures. You never know what you might capture on film...

For the ultimate in relaxation, do as I suggested at the beginning and just head to the beach. Chances are, you will have access from your hotel or oceanfront home. If you are staying in a golf villa, head to Coligny Circle or Folly Field Road for the largest parking facilities. Just don't forget your sunscreen, your sunglasses or your ability to sit in wonderment and awe at one of nature's finest creations. (That would be the Atlantic Ocean, not the girl 50 feet away in the white bikini.)

ENJOY THE HERITAGE AND MOST OF ALL HILTON HEAD ISLAND!

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