Beyond the Fairway Beyond the Ropes
Nestled within the precious salt marshes surrounding Hilton Head Island, you may not be surprised to learn that Harbour Town Golf Links and The Sea Pines Resort take tremendous care in safeguarding the abundant marine life, migratory birds, and rare species that call Calibogue Sound home. However, you may be surprised to learn just how far this care and commitment extends throughout the Hilton Head golf community.
Over the last year, a collaborative effort for education and engagement between Experience Green (a local Hilton Head Island nonprofit organization focused on sustainability) and the Hilton Head Island golf community has resulted in 15 Hilton Head Island golf courses enrolling in OnCourse®, golf’s international sustainability program. In October 2015, The Sea Pines Resort, host of this week’s 2016 RBC Heritage presented by Boeing, led this growing regional initiative by becoming the first golf facility within South Carolina to achieve golf’s global ecolabel, GEO Certified®. Old South Golf Links has also become GEO Certified® within the last month. Most golf courses in the Hilton Head Island area, including those at Sea Pines Resort, source at least 90% of irrigation from recycled water, conserving resources and protecting the biodiverse wetlands that surround Hilton Head Island.
If you look beyond the fairways of play at this week’s PGA Tour event, you will notice a natural extension of these regionally embodied environmental values. The RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing will be powered by renewable energy sources for the eighth straight year. Any emissions resulting from generators, vehicles, or machinery will be offset through a local partnership with Palmetto Electric Cooperative. Food stands will be equipped with compostable foodware, and over 100 recycling receptacles will be scattered across the site to support the event in striving to achieve zero waste-to-landfill goals.
The RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing has also become well known for the remarkable legacies it leaves behind each year, long after the final spectator exits beyond the candy-striped lighthouse overlooking the 18th hole. The Heritage Classic Foundation has awarded over $3.6 million in funds to Beaufort County scholars since the inception of the Scholar Program. This year, 10 local area schools participated in “Plaid About Reading Program,” a light-hearted scholastic competition allowing elementary students to raise money for their school, receive tickets to the event, and experience the opportunity to meet a PGA Tour golfer. Active members of the military attending the event will receive access to exclusive hospitality tent accommodations. The regional economy will be boosted in excess of $90 million. "We recognize that the impact of the RBC Heritage goes far beyond the week long tournament," Steve Wilmot, tournament director, said. "Since 1987, the Heritage Classic Foundation has distributed more than $32 million to people in need throughout South Carolina, and we are also fully committed to the sustainability of our event and the conservation of our state’s natural resources.
“The ethos of continual improvement embedded within the The Sea Pines Resort team and RBC Heritage team is what golf’s approach to sustainability is all about” said Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO (Golf Environment Organization). “This is a tremendous example of a golf venue and golf event coming together to produce results. We look forward to seeing this collaborative approach continue to grow and to generate long lasting positive impacts within their region well into the future.”