One of the longest running and highest profile events on the PGA TOUR, the RBC Heritage is played annually over the Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
The 49th annual tournament in 2017 collected a new accolade, becoming one of only a few front-running events to achieve golf’s new mark of sustainability, GEO Certified® Tournament.
Over the last few years, the event team has worked hard to follow-through on a commitment to lighten the overall environmental footprint of the tournament, while taking steps to protect and foster nature, conserve resources and engage and support the local community.
The certification body and independent verifiers recognized the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing for: waste management and diversion from landfill; staff and spectator education and engagement; carbon reduction through renewable energy and quality of carbon offsets; water conservation; and charitable and community outreach activities.
Other notable highlights include:
- Extensive carbon tracking and offset, covering tournament operations, player and spectators – which resulted in 100% of the operational footprint offset.
- Renewably generated electricity powered 100% of the tournament – saving enough fossil fuels to power thirteen South Carolina homes for an entire year.
- Extensive waste-management communications with 100 signed bins plus Zero Waste stations staffed to raise spectator awareness and action.
- Donation of unused food went to support local causes.
- More than $38 million donated to local charities over 30 years.
- Year-round sustainability, including use of recycled and treated effluent water for all irrigation.
The achievements of the tournament compliment other sustainable golf initiatives across the Hilton Head Island Destination, including: the ‘Experience Green’ through leadership seminar series, also supported by RBC; the GEO Certification of the Sea Pines Resort, with all other golf facilities in the area either fully certified or OnCourse® and working toward for certification; Harbour Town Golf Links designation as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary; and receipt of the IAGTO Sustainable Golf Destinations award for international sustainability leadership in golf tourism.
RBC Heritage Vice President of Operations, Morgan Hyde said: “This accolade comes as we look forward to the 50th edition of the RBC Heritage event. It attests to all the great things that the tournament has stood for to date, and all that we want it to in the future. We will continue to innovate and push the boundaries of sustainability in our bid to deliver the most value we can in the local area, and be a leader for sustainability in and through golf globally”.
“We’re thrilled that the RBC Heritage has become one of the first PGA TOUR events in the world to achieve GEO certification. RBC’s longstanding commitment to the game of golf also extends to championing responsible environmental and sustainable approaches on and off the course,” said Matt McGlynn, Vice-President, RBC Brand Marketing. “The RBC Heritage is truly a showcase event, where we’ve had the unique opportunity to develop, shape and embed innovative environmental programs.”
Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of GEO Foundation said: “Here is another excellent example of a sports event with a large following and global profile stepping into sustainability – in relatively quick time and with impressive results. Building on commitments and achievements of the golf facility itself; then working outwards from staging to communications, engagement and legacies – it’s wonderful to see what a committed group of people can achieve in and through golf to help tackle critical issues of climate change, resource efficiency and ecosystem function.”
To achieve GEO Certified®, the venue and organizers completed a custom-built and highly credible program for golf tournaments, including: document submission, a third-party verification carried out by the Council for Responsible Sport (the official verification body for GEO Certified® Tournaments in North America), a review by GEO, and agreement to ongoing Continual Improvement Points.