HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Most golf resorts begin with a piece of land so beautiful it must have been blessed by the golf gods. An architect’s dream is a piece of land that wasn’t intended for anything but golf.
Such is not the case at Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head Island, S.C., host of the PGA Tour’s Verizon Heritage. While it’s long been known as one of the most popular golf destinations in the Southeast, if not for the vision of one man, it might never have come to be.
But you don’t have to be a tree hugger to appreciate Sea Pines’ splendor. The golf is just as well thought out.
Aside from the highly photogenic, candy-cane-patterned lighthouse that shines like a beacon behind the 18th green, the course’s defining characteristic is its postage-stamp greens.
In fact, because of its difficulty and emphasis on distance control, there is perhaps no other PGA Tour event with a smaller pool of candidate-winners than the Heritage. Multiple winners at Harbour Town include some of golf’s finest ball-strikers: Payne Stewart, Boo Weekley and Davis Love III.
While some of the long hitters decide to rest and recuperate from the previous week’s driving onslaught at Augusta, the short hitters get a chance to showcase their shot-making skills.
|Golf courses on Hilton Head|
More info on Sea Pines Resort
No. 13 – Par 4 373 yards
It doesn’t appear tough on paper, but two precise shots are required or else bogey beckons. The green is protected by a massive bunker with road ties as walls, so shots astray can be deflected violently. With the possibility of birdie about equal to that of double or even triple bogey, the tide can turn quickly at this unique and diabolical short par 4.
No. 15 – Par 5 571 yards
Great par 5s give players options and this hole is no exception. If you can hit it long down the right side you’ll have a chance to get there in two, but a sharp dogleg left into the green will snare any less-than-perfect shot. When a 571-yard par-5 plays as a strategic three-shotter for most Tour players you know it must be tough.
No. 17 – Par 3 185 yards
The first hole to expose players to the unpredictable winds off Calibogue Sound comes near the end of the round. Strategy for this hole depends entirely on the wind. PGA Tour players have hit as much as 3-wood and as little as 9-iron here.
No. 18 – Par 4 452 yards
The home hole at Harbour Town is no doubt its signature. It also happens to be one of the most photographed holes in all of golf. Players are confined to tight driving lanes all day but at No. 18 the 80-yard-wide fairway is the exception to the rule. Conveniently and perhaps not accidentally, the lighthouse is the preferred aiming point off the tee. Hitting the fairway is the easy part, though, as the unpredictable wind off Calibogue Sound makes the final approach very intimidating.
Where to play
Beyond Harbour Town Golf Links there are two other courses within Sea Pines Resort: Heron Point by Pete Dye, and the Ocean Course, the first course built on Hilton Head Island. It recently underwent a redesign by Mark McCumber.
Where to stay
The Inn at Harbour Town – Everything in this quaint, 60-room hotel has an authentic European feel, from the greeter at the front door who’s clad in Scottish garb to the British accents of the concierge. Rooms have views of the Harbour Town Golf Links.
Homes & Villas – If you’re traveling with family or golf buddies, this is the option for you. There are three levels of accommodations to meet your financial preference. The homes and villas are scattered throughout the resort in five different locations. Visit www.seapines.com for more info and special prices.