Harbour Town Golf Links

Harbour Town Golf Links – Played 2014

  • Rankings: Golf Digest #96, Golf Digest Public #18, Golf Magazine #42, Golf Magazine Public #12
  • Location: 32 Greenwood Drive, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
  • Year: 1969
  • Architect: Pete Dye & Jack Nicklaus
  • Course Access: Public
  • Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available

Score Card Information:

  • Heritage: 6,973 yards, Par 71, 75.0 Rating/146 Slope
  • Dye: 6,603 yards, Par 71, 73.0 Rating/141 Slope
  • Sea Pines: 6,040 yards, Par 71, 70.3 Rating/134 Slope
  • Palmetto: 5,208 yards, Par 71, 70.7 Rating/124 Slope

This gem has been home to a PGA Tour event since 1969.  It is one of the few finesse courses on that circuit requiring players to work the ball both ways through tight driving areas.  Once they get past the drives, tiny greens await them.  Pete Dye, along with Nicklaus, created a very unique course that is vexing to pros and amateurs alike.  Because of its uniqueness, the course is highly regarded among touring professionals.  Some of the notable winners of the event include Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III, Hale Irwin, Payne Stewart, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer.

In addition to Harbour Town, a resort is also on the property with three other golf courses making staying close extremely easy.  However, if you want to walk up and play the option exists.  That is what I did on a Sunday in February in between some traveling for work.  I played with a great group.  We had a mandatory forecaddie, but he turned out to be awesome providing great advice and being an exceedingly nice guy.

On to the course tour where I played the Dye tees.

Hole 1 – 392 yards – Par 4

Ok, so remember what I said about tight driving areas.  Here you go right off the bat.  A slight fade fits best here.

HT 1-1The second shot, seen here from about 145 yards, plays through more trees.

HT 1-2The greens here are very small, but the slope is usually not overdone.

HT 1-3

Hole 2 – 495 yards – Par 5

The second can be reachable in two after a big drive.  A fade works well again here.

HT 2-1The approach shot plays through more trees.  Anything offline will most likely get rattled around in the branches.

HT 2-2The green is hourglass-shaped and pretty flat.

HT 2-3Hole 3 – 411 yards – Par 4

This looks like a hallway to me.  In a change of pace from the first two holes a draw works best here.  Tree trouble is all around.

HT 3-1The second shot must avoid some trees depending on where you are in the fairway.  Some bunkers also guard the green.

HT 3-2Another small green here that is very shallow putting a premium on distance control.

HT 3-3

Hole 4 – 187 yards – Par 3

This is quintessential early Pete Dye with the railroad ties all around the hazard.  This look also reminds me the most of watching the tournament on TV.

HT 4-1The hazard bumps right up to the green so anything at the flag is all carry.  There is some bail out area that you can see in this shot from the right side of the green.

HT 4-2Hole 5 – 511 yards – Par 5

This hole doglegs to the left and is one of the more open driving areas on the course.  A slinging draw plays wonderfully here.

HT 5-1I didn’t get any other shots before we got to the green.  This is also one of the bigger greens.  You can see the trees in the left of this picture that require a fade coming from the fairway.

HT 5-2Hole 6 – 401 yards – Par 4

There is plenty of trouble on both sides of the fairway on the sixth.  A slight fade up the middle is your only safe option.  Aim carefully.

HT 6-1There is not much slope on this course, but the second shot plays to a bit of a raised green.  Any shot with too much spin risks coming back off the front.

HT 6-2This is a tiny putting surface by today’s standards.  You can definitely see why precision ball strikers win this tournament so much.

HT 6-3Hole 7 – 172 yards – Par 3

There is a large bunker to avoid when hitting to this green.  These large trees are confining, but pretty visually.

HT 7-1The green can be seen below.

HT 7-2Hole 8 – 435 yards – Par 4

Look at this place!  I am getting claustrophobic.  A draw off the V-shaped tree is a good line off this tee.

HT 8-1I hit one of the best recovery shots of my life here.  A hybrid from the left trees with a big hook to about 15 feet had me feeling pretty good.  The green is guarded by a bunker and water hazard if you veer to far to the left.  Oh and no, I didn’t make the putt.

HT 8-2The green is narrow and slopes toward the water.

HT 8-3Hole 9 – 322 yards – Par 4

This is a short hole that only requires something in the 200 yard range.  It should give you a break from hitting your driver down the chute.

HT 9-1The second shot must negotiate a bunker that guards the front and left of the green.  The clubhouse serves as a backdrop for the shot.  It will have been remodeled by the next PGA Tour visit in April.

HT 9-2Another small green here with bunkers all around.

HT 9-3Hole 10 – 421 yards – Par 4

I missed the tee shot at the tenth, but it is a dogleg left.  The approach shot plays slightly uphill to a green flanked by trees on the right.  A fade provides the most open route to the green.

HT 10-1The green slopes back to front and has a green side bunker on the right.

HT 10-2Hole 11 – 413 yards – Par 4

We are back amongst the trees.  A draw plays well on this hole.

HT 11-1The second shot must be fit through some more trees.  Have you noticed a trend?

HT 11-2Hole 12 – 404 yards – Par 4

A good shot of our awesome forecaddie in action.  This hole doglegs to the right and favors a fade.

HT 12-1The approach plays to an elevated green guarded by a couple bunkers on each side.

HT 12-2Here is a shot of the green.

HT 12-3Hole 13 – 354 yards – Par 4

Your drive at the thirteenth plays out of a tight chute.  If you can use a shorter club for accuracy it makes sense here.

HT 13-1The green complex is one of the coolest on the course.  The railroad ties in the bunker and steep face provide a neat visual.  The green is an odd shape as well.

HT 13-2A closer shot of the green.

HT 13-3Hole 14 – 165 yards – Par 3

This is the home stretch for the tournament.  The tee shot here can induce shortness of breath.  Any shot short or right is going to be wet.  Any miss to the left has you chipping back towards the water.  You might as well just hit is in the middle of the green.

HT 14-1Hole 15 – 541 yards – Par 5

This is a pretty stout hole.  Bust one up the middle and prepare for a layup unless you are a bomber.

HT 15-1The approach shot plays a bit uphill to a green surrounded by sand.  Yet again, precision is key.

HT 15-2I didn’t get as wide of a photo as I wanted, but the green is quite flat around this pin position.

HT 15-3Hole 16 – 361 yards – Par 4

This is the last part of the course in the trees.  Aside from the fairway bunker the tree shot is pretty open.  A draw will leave you with a wedge or short iron into the green.

HT 16-1This fairway bunker is massive and runs almost the length of the hole.  The approach shot doesn’t have much real trouble.

HT 16-2The green is guarded by a couple bunkers, but with a short iron in your hand they shouldn’t be an issue.

HT 16-3Hole 17 – 174 yards – Par 3

This is a marvelous hole and probably the second most famous on the property.  There is trouble all over on the left side with the water and the bunker.  A miss long is also not desirable.

HT 17-1Hole 18 – 444 yards – Par 4

Here is the iconic 18th hole with the Calibouge Sound seen to the left and the lighthouse in the distance.  It is a wide fairway that accommodates any shot shape.

HT 18-1

HT 18-2Above is a shot of the Sound.  Below, the approach shot can be seen.  The green is miniscule and I can imagine there is a lot of pressure trying to hit it with a title on the line.

HT 18-4Here is a little zoomed in shot of the green.  A draw is the most favorable shot to avoid hitting over the trouble.

HT 18-3Here is the bunker in front of the green where Matt Kuchar holed out last year to cap hit win.  I imagine this sand gets a lot of play with how small the green is.

HT 18-5Here is the green from a little closer.  As you can see, anything left (the far side in this picture) is going to be in the hazard.

HT 18-6Another shot of the lighthouse and scenery.

HT 18-7I don’t hit the ball overly straight, but I still had a great time on this course.  You definitely have to move the ball both ways and the course makes you think all the way around.  The small greens will require a great deal of short game wizardry.  However, if you hit them a good chance at birdie awaits.  The course was in great shape and the greens were running smooth.  I was glad I could recount the round as I started my long drive for work.  If you get the chance to play this gem, take it.

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5 thoughts on “Harbour Town Golf Links

  1. Pingback: Mid Year Newsletter | Tiger Golf Traveler

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