HARBOUR TOWN GOLF LINKS – 1969

Pete Dye & Jack Nicklaus

Pete has designed well over 2,000 golf holes in his extraordinary career, but it’s safe to say that the final hole at Harbour Town Golf Links, at the southern terminus of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, is among the two or three most recognizable in the Dye oeuvre.  The choppy waters of Calibogue Sound lurk to the player’s left, waving marsh grasses fronting the tee box wreak havoc with wayward drives, and the candy-striped lighthouse stands sentinel behind the green, a clear target for both drive and approach.  It’s an epic conclusion to one of the most beguiling courses in the modern game.

“It’s one of the most innovative and revolutionary designs in the history of golf architecture,” says Brad Klein of Golfweek Magazine. “It’s certainly one of the ten most important courses in terms of design, because Pete Dye built all sorts of great contour, shape, form, and strategy into a dead-level site that was really quite boring to begin with.  Instead of moving massive quantities of dirt, he massaged the earth in a subtle way, turning the holes and positioning them so the live oaks draped the entrances to the green.  It created a tremendous sense of corridors, and you have to keep working the ball from left to right and right to left.  It’s a really ingenious design.”

Always quick to deflect praise, Dye gives credit to one of his colleagues, Robert Trent Jones, for inspiring his vision.  “I noticed that Mr. Jones was using big machinery to carve out long tees, huge bunkers, and massive greens at nearby Palmetto Dunes at the time,” recalls Dye.  “I decided to do the opposite.  I figured small greens, tiny pot bunkers, and a low-profile design would separate my identity from the other designers on the island and be something really unique.”

Harbour Town has as unique a collection of champions as virtually any PGA Tour venue. Beginning with the first event in 1969, won by Arnold Palmer, the list of winners stack up with virtually any other long-time Tour venue. Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer, Fuzzy Zoeller, Nick Faldo, Payne Stewart, Justin Leonard, Nick Price Greg Norman, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar have all triumphed at Harbour Town.

The quartet of par-3s is one of the finest collections in the game.  Two are menaced by water, one surrounded by sand, the last requiring a tee shot into the prevailing breezes with wetlands and marsh grasses close at hand. It’s hard to recollect any other world-class course that has the proliferation of houses and condos that are seen at the southern end of the island’s Sea Pines Plantation, so it’s a testament to Dye’s acumen that a round here isn’t like a typical ride through a neighborhood subdivision, which is so often the case in the Southeast.   The strategy required on each shot and the omnipresence of the fabulous hardwoods defining and influencing the line of play draw the attention.  To find success at Harbour Town, a player must not only find the fairway, but often must land on the proper side of the fairway in order to reach the green safely.    The housing and road crossings fade to the background as players concentrate on negotiating a golf course that’s both petite (barely 7,000 yards) and flat as a Scrabble board, (just four feet of elevation change.)

The crescendo of the finishing holes, as a player emerges from the forest to sweeping seaside views, gets most of the attention. But it’s the understated, inland hole-to-hole genius of this design, admired by and bedeviling to Tour pros and resort duffers both, that maintains Harbour Town’s lofty reputation.  Though one of Dye’s more subtle designs, forty-odd years after inception it remains an absolute standout in the golf world.

He’s designed well over 2,000 golf holes in his extraordinary career, but it’s safe to say that the final hole at Harbour Town Golf Links, at the southern terminus of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, is among the two or three most recognizable in the Dye oeuvre.  The choppy waters of Calibogue Sound lurk to the player’s left, waving marsh grasses fronting the tee box wreak havoc with wayward drives, and the candy-striped lighthouse stands sentinel behind the green, a clear target for both drive and approach.  It’s an epic conclusion to one of the most beguiling courses in the modern game.

“It’s one of the most innovative and revolutionary designs in the history of golf architecture,” says Brad Klein of Golfweek Magazine. “It’s certainly one of the ten most important courses in terms of design, because Pete Dye built all sorts of great contour, shape, form, and strategy into a dead-level site that was really quite boring to begin with.  Instead of moving massive quantities of dirt, he massaged the earth in a subtle way, turning the holes and positioning them so the live oaks draped the entrances to the green.  It created a tremendous sense of corridors, and you have to keep working the ball from left to right and right to left.  It’s a really ingenious design.”

Always quick to deflect praise, Dye gives credit to one of his colleagues, Robert Trent Jones, for inspiring his vision.  “I noticed that Mr. Jones was using big machinery to carve out long tees, huge bunkers, and massive greens at nearby Palmetto Dunes at the time,” recalls Dye.  “I decided to do the opposite.  I figured small greens, tiny pot bunkers, and a low-profile design would separate my identity from the other designers on the island and be something really unique.”

Harbour Town has as unique a collection of champions as virtually any PGA Tour venue. Beginning with the first event in 1969, won by Arnold Palmer, the list of winners stack up with virtually any other long-time Tour venue. Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer, Fuzzy Zoeller, Nick Faldo, Payne Stewart, Justin Leonard, Nick Price Greg Norman, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar have all triumphed at Harbour Town.

The quartet of par-3s is one of the finest collections in the game.  Two are menaced by water, one surrounded by sand, the last requiring a tee shot into the prevailing breezes with wetlands and marsh grasses close at hand. It’s hard to recollect any other world-class course that has the proliferation of houses and condos that are seen at the southern end of the island’s Sea Pines Plantation, so it’s a testament to Dye’s acumen that a round here isn’t like a typical ride through a neighborhood subdivision, which is so often the case in the Southeast.   The strategy required on each shot and the omnipresence of the fabulous hardwoods defining and influencing the line of play draw the attention.  To find success at Harbour Town, a player must not only find the fairway, but often must land on the proper side of the fairway in order to reach the green safely.    The housing and road crossings fade to the background as players concentrate on negotiating a golf course that’s both petite (barely 7,000 yards) and flat as a Scrabble board, (just four feet of elevation change.)

The crescendo of the finishing holes, as a player emerges from the forest to sweeping seaside views, gets most of the attention. But it’s the understated, inland hole-to-hole genius of this design, admired by and bedeviling to Tour pros and resort duffers both, that maintains Harbour Town’s lofty reputation.  Though one of Dye’s more subtle designs, forty-odd years after inception it remains an absolute standout in the golf world.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save