Let’s paint a picture here. You’re a successful professional golfer with a few wins already under your belt this year, and you just fought through days of wind, rain, and delays to win your first-ever green jacket at the Masters Tournament at 28 years old. Where are you going next? Disney World? Some tropical vacation? Home, to spend time with your family?
If you’re Jon Rahm, the answer is 130 miles north of Augusta National Golf Club to Harbour Town Golf Links in sunny Hilton Head Island, SC for the 2023 RBC Heritage. Rahm is joined at this PGA TOUR event by quite a few of the big names from the Masters field, including Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, and Max Homa.
So why are all of these golfers jumping straight into another tournament just a few days after the biggest weekend in golf?
The RBC Heritage is one of the PGA TOUR’s 17 designated, or “elevated events.” The events include all four majors, THE PLAYERS Championship, and the TOUR Championship, but the list also has some of the less well-known events on the calendar.
Elevated events were introduced by the PGA TOUR last year as part of an effort to reward top golfers financially and to draw more interest to the sport. Golfers compete for a purse of at least $20 million (except for the majors that continue to set their own prize pools), but against a tough field of some of the best players in the world.
Top golfers are required to play 16 of the 17 elevated events in order to receive their Player Impact Program earnings at the end of the season, which can amount to millions of dollars — a significant bonus, even if you’re not winning any of the elevated events. These events also include the Genesis Invitational, the Waste Management Open, and the Wells Fargo Championship.
That’s why you’re not seeing golfers withdraw from the RBC Heritage field this week despite its proximity to the Masters. However, Rory McIlroy did decide to pull out of the field after missing the cut at the Masters. He already missed one elevated event this season, so he will not be able to collect his full PIP earnings at the end of the season. Last year, McIlroy won $12,000,000 from the Player Impact Program, which rewards golf’s biggest names.
The RBC Heritage tees off on Thursday, April 13.