Most golfers recognize the Sea Pines Resort’s Harbour Town Golf Links as the PGA Tour site with a red-and-white striped lighthouse behind the 18th green.
Well, the lighthouse – built only as a recognizable feature upon the course’s 1969 opening – doesn’t actually work, but Pete Dye’s brilliant design sure as heck does.
The 7,101-yard, par-71 host course for the tour’s annual RBC Heritage tournament continues to be many pros’ favorite venue for numerous reasons, primarily because Harbour Town rewards shotmaking and imagination rather than pure power. Finesse is paramount because of narrow fairways framed by overhanging Spanish moss-draped oaks, palmettos, firs and other hardwoods that create the sense you’re navigating tunnels en route to the tiny putting surfaces. Dye kneaded and contoured a flat piece of lowcountry acreage (a whopping four feet of elevation change) he enhanced with his usual dose of large waste bunkers, railroad ties, miniscule pot bunkers and expansive lagoons.
Truthfully, prior to my recent Hilton Head Island visit, I had never been wowed by the Harbour Town on my TV screen, but after finally playing it I now love the subtle, low-profile architectural masterpiece. I’m also not a fan of house- and condo-lined courses, but I hardly noticed Harbour Town’s abundant domiciles, further proof of Dye’s keen design sense. My round was so peaceful I also didn’t realize Dye kept getting the upper hand until it was too late. By then I had reached the spectacular final two holes, where you emerge into the open to play out to, and alongside, picturesque Calibogue Sound, brimming with pleasure boats of all sizes – none in my price range.
I was particularly impressed with the four par 3s, which I played in one-over thanks to a kick-in birdie from four inches on the 200-yard fourth, the quartet’s longest. Kudos to my caddie, “Bones,” for handing me one more club than I pulled. Lagoons protect the fourth and 192-yard 14th holes, sand encircles the 195-yard seventh and tall marsh grasses, wetlands, sand and wind wreak havoc at the 185-yard penultimate hole, which I bogeyed from the left-hand bunker.
“Bones” emphasized the importance of staying right on the 472-yard, into-the-wind 18th, as the landing area juts into Calibogue Sound on the left, and marsh and bunkers also await balls along that side. Naturally, I yanked my drive left. After making an up-and-down par from the front bunker, I waited for the boats to blow their horns and the lighthouse light to start flashing. Then I remembered – unlike the brilliant course, the iconic lighthouse doesn’t shine.
Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head Island, SC
For stay-and-play packages, specials and promotions visit their website or call 800-732-7463
You May Also Like…