In November of 1969 - on Thanksgiving Weekend, no less - Sea Pines Golf Club innovator Charles Fraser coined the first professional tournament to be played on his impressive South Carolina golf course as the "Heritage Classic"; a phrase referring to a rich Carolinas history forever immortalized in the now famous plaid tartan jacket.
Last week, golf fans and players alike focused on whom might come away with winning the Green Jacket, which is of course traditionally presented to the winner of The Masters. This week, our collective attention turns to the RBC Heritage Classic's plaid tartan jacket, which will also be presented to the eventual winner. Brandt Snedecker returns to South Carolina to defend his title, and a very prestigious title, at that.
Taking a look at the laundry list of past RBC Heritage Classic winners will give you an idea of the history of this event, which includes names from professional golf royalty. Names such as Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, Langer, Price, and many others have worn the tartan plaid over the years, making this event a staple on many professional golfers' "bucket list" of titles to one day call their own.
One of two PGA TOUR events that award a plaid jacket - the other being The Colonial - the tartan plaid design is said to represent the rich Scottish heritage of early North and South Carolina settlers back in the 1600s, most notably in the Cape Fear Valley. Other areas of the Carolinas would also eventually become inhabited by other Scottish immigrants, including the piedmont and western mountain regions which would be the home for many Ulster Scots. Many of these Scottish travelers would also fight in the American Revolutionary War.
So where does the plaid pattern come into play? According to various sources, the most likely origin dates back to 1661 when during a ceremony to crown King Charles as king of Scotland, it is said that the noble wore an "auld Royale tartan" which included ribbons and a peculiar plaid fabric pattern.
The tournament itself has seen many changes throughout the years, most notably its move from late-November to the week following the Masters in April. This timeframe has proven to be rather advantageous for a multitude of reasons, including both financial and notoriety factors. For example, the original Heritage Classic purse of $100,000 (from which eventual winner Arnold Palmer would take home $20,000) would balloon to an impressive $5.7 million for this year's tournament.
The RBC Heritage Classic will undoubtedly be another great tournament to watch this weekend, further proving that there is more than one jacket that many PGA players dream to earn at one point in their career.