“Harbor Town made my career,” says Pete Dye of the course design for which he’s probably best known.
Forty years ago Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort opened to much fanfare while hosting a nascent PGA TOUR tournament — the Heritage Classic. Swashbuckling Arnold Palmer staged one of his patented final round charges for the inaugural victory and the Lowcountry 18 became a “must play.”
When the TOUR makes its annual stop on Hilton Head this week for the RBC Heritage, players will find the iconic layout ever so slightly modified. During an onsite evaluation in early 2011, Dye toured his creation and charted a series of enhancements, insuring the layout would retain its lofty status and continued critical acclaim.
And by slight, we mean really slight. After all, a masterpiece is a masterpiece. The layout was lengthened 150 yards, a handful of trees were removed to improve sightlines and a select number of bunkers were reshaped or extended to bring hazards back into play. It’s kind of like polishing the frame of the Mona Lisa.
Plus, the world’s best love playing Harbour Town as it was ranked No. 2 in Golf World’s recent survey of TOUR players naming their “Top 10 PGA TOUR Courses” placing just behind Augusta National.
Player comments included: "My favorite Pete Dye course," "The best course we play," “…don't need length for a great golf course," “It's a 10 because of great greens," and "You have to shape the ball on almost every hole."
Dye was quite appreciative of the acclaim saying, “To be included in a list of world renowned PGA TOUR venues as represented, and then to be chosen as the second best is truly a great honor. We are grateful to all the players for this recognition.”
Sea Pines also has two other championship layouts. Heron Point by Pete Dye is a shot-makers’ layout that demands the same level of precision and strategy as Harbour Town. The venerable Ocean Course — the island’s first — is routed through wetlands, meanders through thick strands of Live Oaks, and boasts an oceanfront hole set against a dune ridge.
While golf is the focal point, the resort features an array of world-class amenities. The Racquet Club boasts 23 clay courts and is ranked as one of the best in the U.S. Five miles of sweeping Atlantic beaches offer everything from sea-kayaking to fishing to surfing.
The enchanted 605-acre Forest Preserve is ideal for horseback riding and hiking. Its array of luxurious accommodations includes The Inn at Harbour Town — an award-winning 60-room boutique hotel — as well as 300 villas and 100 rental homes.