One of the most beautiful, most relaxing places in the country plays host to the PGA Tour this week -- Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island for the RBC Heritage.
After a one-year hiatus from the spot on the Tour schedule immediately following the Masters, the Heritage is back where it belongs. It's the perfect place for players to decompress after a grueling Masters week and a wonderful destination to bring the family along. As calming as Hilton Head can be, there's no doubt the players will be grinding for a victory.
Brandt Snedeker is back as the defending champ, one year after defeating Luke Donald in a playoff.
Before the start of the Heritage, we caught up with Sea Pines Resort PGA Director of Golf John Farrell for a little Q&A.
PGA.com: As always, thank you for joining us, John. Why don't we start out by having you make us a little jealous? What's the weather looking like for the week in Hilton Head?
Farrell: Our forecast is absolutely perfect 68-78 degrees with full sun and light winds. This is one of the things we can't control so we are very lucky and grateful for the sunny days ahead.
PGA.com: It feels like all is right in the universe again now that the RBC Heritage is back to its traditional spot on the calendar -- right after the Masters. Last year, the Heritage was two weeks after the Masters and it just didn't feel right. How important is this spot on the schedule to the folks in Hilton Head?
Farrell: Our first concern was being on the schedule at all, but if the luxury of selectivity is an option then yes, we do prefer the week after the Masters. This week is better for everyone involved with the event. Players, sponsors, media, the PGA Tour officials and everyone else prefer to make the short drive down from Augusta to sunny Sea Pines Resort.
PGA.com: The Heritage has been a staple on the PGA Tour for so many years now and receives tremendous support locally. What does that support mean to the event?
Farrell: We are a very small market, possibly the smallest on Tour so the support we enjoy is really on a regional level. It is so exciting to see the way the local and regional community prepares and enjoys the Heritage season which is so much more than just one week. Homes have fresh coats of paint and new flowers; it's just awesome to see the way everyone across the board gears up and enjoys this special time.
PGA.com: As we know, the Heritage is a very family-oriented event. Can you tell our readers about some of the activities you have there that make it so family oriented?
Farrell: Our guests have tee times, fishing tours, crabbing trips, tennis lessons, bikes rented and dinner reservations as just a few of the options. It is very common to see the PGA Tour players riding bikes with their kids before or after their rounds. It is well documented how the players feel about the golf course and how that impacts the strength of our field. What a lot of people don't know is how many players are here at their wives insistence. This is a venue that is fun for the whole family.
PGA.com: Final question, John. You have another star-studded field assembled this week. One player in particular -- Ernie Els -- missed out on the Masters last week for the first time in ages. He had been playing great golf lately until that forced week off. What do you expect to see out of Ernie this week?
Farrell: This is a great golf course for Ernie who works the ball so well and seems to be so comfortable here. I would not be surprised to see Ernie in his first plaid jacket come Sunday afternoon.