After spending the first two months of the Ultimate Golf Road Trip jaunting over 5,000 miles from Florida to Texas and back, we made our way to the lowlands of South Carolina. First on our list, the famed Harbour Town Golf Links.
If you’re a golf fan, you’ve likely seen this layout showcased on TV, hosting the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage Classic each April. Rather than the 7,500 yard monster venues that we often see on Tour, Harbour Town delivers a different kind of challenge.
Narrow fairways and relatively small greens mean this place puts much more of a premium on shot shaping and strategy than the “bomb and gouge” strategy often employed.
Before we headed out to tackle the course, I made my third appearance on the Golf Channel’s morning drive, this time via live video conference from the Harbour Town clubhouse balcony! We had to get a bit creative with setup, but I think it turned out well (watch the interview here).
The golf course meanders it’s way through the tall pines (understatement — these trees are huge) of the Sea Pines Resort. You won’t find too many sharp dogleg holes (there are a few), but most have just enough bend to require a tee shot positioned on the correct side of the fairway to avoid being blocked out by trees on your approach.
Add small, uniquely shaped greens, extensive bunkering and plenty of water, and you’ve got one beautiful, yet challenging test of golf.
So what really sets Harbour Town apart?
First, Harbour Town has one of the best set of par 3 holes of any course you’ll play. They aren’t terribly long by today’s standards, but each require a precise shot to avoid trouble and find the putting surface. Further, they are some of the most aesthetically pleasing holes on the course.
Second, is the finish. While the final 6 holes are a fantastic stretch, 17 and 18 receive most of the acclaim.
The 17th is one of those great par 3s, that feature a forced carry over water and bunkers and provide a great glimpse of the Calibogue Sound in the distance. The combination of palm trees, tall sea grass, white bunkers framed by signature Pete Dye railroad ties, and a constant breeze off the water lend to an invigorating experience.
Get used to that view, as the 18th provides an even better look at the water stretching the length of the hole. Standing on the tee, those same aesthetics draw you in, with the added benefit of the iconic red and white striped lighthouse guiding you home.
The tee shot is one of the easiest on the course, with a massively large fairway, but the approach will test even the best into this narrow, well-guarded green. I was fortunate to hit one of my best iron shots of the day, and managed to brush in a short putt for a closing birdie.
A bucket-list experience on this one of a kind golf course. Have the camera’s ready on 18 – it’s a moment you’ll want to capture, and relive, forever.