Where to Play: The Sea Pines Resort
The Sea Pines Resort offers three great courses – Ocean Course, Heron Point, and Harbour Town Golf Links. The Ocean Course and Heron Point are located at the Plantation Golf Club and share a clubhouse and practice facilities, while Harbour Town Golf Links has its own separate facilities. Although we planned to play all three courses, some unseasonably cold weather prevented us from playing the Ocean Course. Still, we were delighted with our experience on the other two layouts.
Round 1: Heron Point
A new clubhouse welcomes guests and includes a lovely sitting area, a fully stocked pro shop, exquisite locker room facilities, and Live Oak – a low-country inspired restaurant overlooking the 1st and 18th holes.
The Ocean Course and Heron Point share a large range, with many target greens from 50 to 250 yards in distance. A 2,400 square foot indoor learning-center, chipping green, and multiple large putting greens round out the solid practice area.
Designed by Pete Dye, Heron Point is often referred to as the sister course to Harbour Town. A position course, golfers encounter narrow tree-lined fairways, extensive bunkering, and modest sized greens where multiple tiers and sections require precision iron play to avoid nearly impossible two-putts. The variety of holes, abundance of water and marshlands, and signature Dye wood-planks and grass walls offer a challenging, yet very entertaining golf course.
While it’s not quite grandiose as the more popular Harbour Town Golf Links, it serves as a great warm-up round for the main event given the course similarities. Some of the more difficult and memorable holes are the par 3, 236 yard 4th and the par 5, 617 yard 11th, both with long carries over water off the tee. Also, the 18th hole – a dogleg left, 426 yard par 4 – proves to be a great finishing hole with two quality shots needed to hit the well guarded fairway and green. Grab a yardage book in the pro-shop and be sure to play to the larger parts of the fairway off the tee!
Round 2: Harbour Town Golf Links
Construction of the brand new clubhouse is nearly complete! The finished product will be introduced in time for the PGA Tour’s Heritage Classic in mid-April. Although we weren’t able to go inside, the exterior is magnificent.
Harbour Town facilities include a modest-sized driving range (with a net at the end of the 250 yard range), a few small chipping greens, and a large putting green positioned nicely in front of the new clubhouse. Don’t be fooled – the practice putting green seems to be nearly twice the size of most greens on the course.
If there’s any doubt about the type of layout one will face at Harbour Town, there is quick resolution on the first tee. The opening hole sets the tone for the round, with an intimidating narrow fairway lined by massive, moss covered oak trees. Manage to find the fairway off the tee and the challenge continues, with any drive settling left of center requiring a draw approach shot into a tiny, undulating green. It’s immediately prevalent why this is referred to as a shot-makers golf course!
As the round continues, the impressive tree lined fairways become a common theme and add to the magnificence of the layout. Although the course winds through the Sea Pines Resort neighborhoods, the muted colors of the homes make them seem non-existent as the larger-than-life trees, mix of large waste bunkers and strategically placed pot bunkers, marshy lagoons and lush green fairways capture the golfer’s full attention. It’s no surprise that the PGA Tour’s Heritage Classic continues to call this place home to it’s annual April event.
While the narrow fairways and small greens (the greens are nearly half the size of the PGA Tour average!) are evident, the course presents one of the best collection of par 3 holes that I have played on one golf course. Each par 3 (holes 4, 7, 14, 17) is beautifully designed, incorporating the signature overhanging oaks and each guarded by strategic bunkering and water hazards. These holes are as pleasing to the eye as they are testing to the golf game. Other favorites include the drivable (for long hitters) par 4 9th, with the new clubhouse situated directly behind the green, and the short par 4 13th with an elevated green wrapped by a large bunker and the signature Dye rail-road ties.
After weaving your way through the narrow tree-lined fairways, the closing two holes offer sweeping views of marshes and the Calibogue Sound. While the signature closing hole presents a generous landing area for tee shots, try not to be distracted by the candy cane-striped lighthouse in the distance as you fire your final approach to the tiny 18th green. Oh, and be ready with those cameras – you won’t want to miss this photo opportunity for the scrapbook!
The Bottom Line
The Sea Pines Resort is the ideal destination for vacationers seeking luxurious accommodations and challenging golf courses. Stay at the Inn at Harbour Town and play the famed Harbour Town Golf Links like the pros – walking with a caddy!
Looking for the perfect accommodations and great restaurants on Hilton Head Island? Be sure to check-out the related blog post – Hilton Head Island – Part I: A Luxurious Stay