Up Close to the Action at RBC Heritage

By: David Wood

Harbour Town Golf Links - the centerpiece of Sea Pines Resort and host site of this week's RBC Heritage - might well be the best event to see PGA Tour players up close and personal.

Sightlines are rarely obstructed as spectators leisurely stroll along the tree-lined Pete Dye gem following a favorite player or "camping out" at strategic spots like behind the splendid (and devilishly small!) green at the par-4 ninth.

"I've never been to a tournament where you can get as close to the action as you can here at Harbour Town," said Tom Franken of Chicago. "Me and my buddies come down every year and play golf in the mornings and watch the pros in the afternoons. It's perfect."

Even with more than 100,000 people attending the tournament annually, there is a genteel, unrushed ambience to the proceedings as "please" and "thank you" are more than norm than someone blurting out "You da man!" after a booming drive.

"This is the best venue for any of the Tour events I've been to, even the Masters at Augusta National," said tournament attendee John Juric of Westchester, Pa., as he stood no more than five paces behind the diabolical putting surface of the par-4 third hole. "It's more laidback, you're so close to the action, and there is so much else to do here."

With a clear view of Webb Simpson teeing off a few yards away on the superb dogleg-left par 5 fifth, John Hodges of Columbus, Ohio, said, "I love the course and the weather here on Hilton Head. I play the course every year so you kind of know how the pros are feeling when they attempt certain shots."

Because scores of attendees stay within the confines of the resort, the traffic jams common at most big-time sporting events are nonexistent, so it's easy, for example, to take the whole family on a morning bike ride along the resort's miles of trails and then wander over to see the action later in the day.

Want to tee it up with your golf pals before coming over to watch tournament action like Mr. Franken above? Sea Pines' Heron Point by Pete Dye and Ocean Course are minutes away. How about horseback riding? Tennis? Beachcombing? People watching at the Harbour Town Yacht Basin? All within close proximity.

As Brian Dart of nearby Savannah said as he warned his four-year-old twins not to pick a player's golf ball that had slowly rolled over to where they stood alongside the eighth fairway, "This is a laidback event perfect for families."

For more information about The Sea Pines Resort, visit www.seapines.com.

In addition to writing on golf and travel, author and noted speaker David Wood has made several appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman" as well as dozens of other television shows. His book - "Around the World in 80 Rounds" - was just released in paperback on www.Amazon.com. Currently he works in public relations with Buffalo Communications in Vienna, Va. His website is www.DavidWoodSpeaking.com.