Every year around this time I make a trip to Hilton Head Island for a small four man tournament with my friends. This year we added four more guys to the trip and decided to play Harbour Town Golf Links. HTGL was the first golf course on Hilton Head Island and was designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus. It was Nicklaus’ first foray into course design and one of his best known efforts because of the PGA Tour event that is held there each year.
I must agree with the general consensus about the course and what they say every year on TV when the Heritage Classic comes through town the week after The Masters . . . the fairways are incredibly narrow and the greens are postage stamps. Even though my driver had been right on the money recently, I spent most of the day hitting a utility club off the tee. In my opinion, the only way to play this course is from the fairway. If you want a chance to hit the greens in regulation you had better be both in the fairway AND in the correct spot.
I had great focus on the front nine (which is why there are no photos) with a birdie on the 4th hole and I managed to avoid a double bogey until the 9th hole . The pot bunker behind the green on the 9th got me. Unfortunately I lost my focus after that and the back nine was a less than stellar performance.
Below is a photo from the tee box of the 14th hole which is a par 3. This was my favorite of four really nice par 3s. It didn’t hurt that I made par on the hole to win a crucial point for my team in the match we were playing. If you click on the photo below you can see that the pin on the day we played was in the middle of the green on the left side so the water was not really in play. Sunday at the Heritage Classic the pin is front right five paces from water. Yikes!
We played late in the day with a tee off time of 1:23. We really cut it close with available daylight. Thankfully daylight savings time didn’t start for another 36 hours so we were able to finish up just as the sun was going down. It really made playing 17 and 18 scenic with the sun setting over the Calibogue Sound. Below is a photo taken from the 18th tee box.
Another thing they are dead right about on TV is the wind on these two holes. Talk about a tough finish. The wind had been a factor all day, but the last two holes it really beat me down.
Overall, I liked this course just fine. Some of the guys in our group didn’t think much of it. It’s definitely a shot makers course and I really like that kind of golf. They have a new forecaddie program in place which is interesting. I’m not sure that all the caddies are good enough to give accurate yardages or can read greens, but its nice to have them on the tee box with you to tell you where the pin is and what side of the fairway you want to be on.
For me, Harbour Town was a fun day of golf. It’s a bit pricey, so I’m not sure I’ll be rushing back to play it every year, but if was fun and I’m looking forward to watching the Heritage Classic next year now that I’ve played the course.