The Itinerant Golfer

The Itinerant Golfer's Take on Harbour Town Golf Links


Hilton Head Island, South Carolina | Harbour Town Golf Links

Architect: Pete Dye & Jack Nicklaus
Year: 1969

11 Lighthouse Lane , Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 29928
(800) 732-7463

driving range available
motorized golf carts and caddies available
affiliated resort accommodations


Back when I started my Top 100 quest Harbour Town Golf Links was the sixth course I played. Recently while on a family vacation I managed to get another loop around the course that hosts the RBC Heritage the week after The Masters every year. This is one of the great stops on the Tour and is always a huge party. The tournament has been won by some of the biggest names in the game who are rewarded with a hideous plaid jacket for their efforts. Below is a photo of 2012 winner Carl Pettersson.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links 
During my round five years ago my partner and I were engaged in a heated battle with our friends Rob and Greg so I didn’t take very many photos. This time it was a casual round with my Dad and brother so I broke out my camera a little more often. Below are some photos from the round. The yardages are from the 6,640 yard Dye tees.
 
Hole 1 – 392 yards – Par 4
The course starts out with a straight away par 4 that provides a feel for just how narrow the course can be. The photo below was taken from the tee box. It’s best to favor the right side of the fairway for the best angle to the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Below is a look at the approach into the green. The trees hanging over the on the left side of the photo are part of the problem for approaching coming in from the left side of the fairway.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
The photo below was taken from the bunker on the left side of the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 2 – 495 yards – Par 5
The first par 5 on the front side is a hole that turns a bit to the right. A drive up the left side will give the best angle into the green. At 495 yards this is going to be reachable in two for some of the longer hitters.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Below is a view of the pitch shot into the green after a layup of roughly 60 yards short of the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
The greens at Harbour Town are notoriously small and we got a bit of a taste of that on the 2nd hole. The 2nd green, pictured below, is extremely narrow and fairly long front to back.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 3 – 411 yards – Par 4
The photo below gives another look at how tight Harbour Town is. This hole has a slight dogleg left which makes a draw off the tee a pretty favorable shot shape.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Below is a look at the approach into the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 4 – 187 yards – Par 3
Here we have a mid-length par 3 over water. As can be seen in the photo below there is plenty of bail out room to the right, but shots that miss short and left are destined for a watery grave.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Here is a little closer look at the hole.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 5 – 511 yards – Par 5
Finally at the fifth hole we get a little bit of a break from the narrow fairways. The photo below was taken walking off the tee and it feels significantly wider than the previous holes.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Below is the approach into the green. This hole was a little more exposed and seemed to have significantly more wind than the previous holes.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Here is a view of the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 6 – 404 yards – Par 4
This hole tightens back up a little bit. The danger is that any shots that stray just a little too far off line are at the mercy of the trees and can richochet just about anywhere. What makes it even more worrisome is that many of the holes here are bordered by white out of bounds stakes which means a bad bounce can result in hitting 3 off the tee.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Below is the approach shot into the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
And here is a closer look a the green. Note the fall off on the right side.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 7 – 172 yards – Par 3
This is another mid-length par 3 that play over water and then over a bunker as well. The water really isn’t in play except for a terribly mishit shot, but the sand will be a problem for shots that come up just a little short of the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Here is another look at the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 8 – 435 yards – Par 3
This is a long par 4 that is also rated as the hardest hole on the course. I didn’t get any photos from the tee or fairway as I spent most of this hole thrashing my ball through the woods on the right hand side of the hole. Below is a look at the green. Note the water to left hand side. This water is only up near the green just waiting to rinse the wayward approach shot.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 9 – 322 yards – Par 4
Finally we get to a short par 4 hole! Playing at just 322 yards, all that is needed is a 190-220 yard shot to leave a short iron or wedge into the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
The green at the 9th is a nasty little “U” shaped affair. Its a teeny tiny green to begin with, but when you factor in that it basically split into two greens it suddenly gets even smaller.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Here is a look from behind the green. Note the nasty little bunkers in the back. I hit into one of those back in 2007 and they’re not a good time.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 10 – 421 yards – Par 4
We start the second nine hole off with a long dogleg to the left. The water on the left hand side is in play. The closer the drive is played to the water the shorter the approach shot will be.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 11 – 413 yards – Par 4
With this hole we are back to having to worry about narrow fairways. This hole is a dogleg to the left and a draw played from the tee is the ideal shot. Because of the narrowness of the fairways I feel like many of the tee shots really only have one way to play them.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 12 – 404 yards – Par 4
Here we have another fairly narrow fairway but this one doglegs to the left and favors a fade off the tee.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Here is a look at the green from about 80 yards out.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 13 – 354 yards Par 4
In my personal opinion, the 13th hole is where Harbour Town gets interesting. I feel like from this hole in are my favorite holes on the course. We start this stretch off with a short par 4. Driver is not going to be an option here for long hitters. The ideal play is a 3 wood right down the middle. Its important to hit the drive far enough here to leave an unobstructed shot into the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Here is a look at the approach shot into the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
And a little closer look.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 14 – 165 yards – Par 3
Another carry over water for this par 3 with the classic Pete Dye bulkhead separating the green from the water. The photo I took of this hole a few years ago (see my previous post) is one of my all time favorite photos I’ve taken.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 15 – 541 yards – Par 5
This is a long par 5 that I hacked up and didn’t get any photos of until I got my ball back in the fairway for the approach shot.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 16 – 395 yards – Par 4
This hole runs parallel to the 10th hole. A draw off the tee is the ideal shot but there is plenty of room to the right that will still allow for a shot to the green as long as the two trees are not in the way.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Here is a look a the the enormous bunker that along the left side of this hole. This has got to be a caddies worst nightmare. When a player hits into this bunker and goes for the green there is a good chance that there will be a second or third shot made from the bunker which will probably result in a player traipsing the length of the bunker and a lot of rake work for the caddie.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Shots going over the green are going to have a tricky pitch back onto the putting surface , especially when the hole is cut at the back of the green.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 17 – 174 yards – Par 3
This hole is my favorite of the par 3s and I suspect that many people would agree with me. The green runs from left to right and a miss to the left when the hole location is cut in the back will make for a very difficult up and down.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Here is a closer look at the hole.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Below is a view of the green walking up to it from the right hand side.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Hole 18 – 444 yards – Par 4
We finish the round with a very tough and long par 4. Often hampered by wind players have to decide how much of the marsh area they want to bit off.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Below is a photo of the approach shot into the 18th green with the iconic lighthouse in the background. For most players this approach is going to be 200 or more yards and played into the wind. Any shots that go left are going to end up on the beach and can be very difficult to find.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
Here is a little closer look at the approach shot.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
And this is the view from the green towards the lighthouse.
 
Harbour Town Golf Links
 
My second loop around Harbour Town Golf Links was great fun. The first time I played the course I was with some of my best friends and this time I was with my Dad and brother which made for a great round – even though none of us played very well. The course definitely requires some precision and I can see why some of the Tour pros don’t like to play here. In order to score well players need to be able to hit the right type of shots and when they don’t the punishment can be severe. I really enjoy the closing stretch of holes from 13 – 18 as well as the stern test of shotmaking that the course provides. I still haven’t made a decent score on the course so in another five years I may be updating my post yet again!! By the way, its worth noting that the scorecard from 2012 has an extra 128 yards more on the Heritage tees than the card from 2007. The Dye tees changed by less than 40 yards and the Sea Pines tees (which is probably the tee most players use) increased by 211 yards since 2007.