Bob Gillespie



A “cool” favorite: Harbour Town named No. 4 by on-line course rating

Posted 2/7/2012 12:13:00 PM

It’s one thing to be ranked second among PGA Tour golf courses by the world’s top professional players. It’s another to be called one of the “coolest.”

Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island now has both distinctions.

Just days after Golf World magazine listed Harbour Town behind only Augusta National among PGA Tour venues for its popularity among tour players, the 1969 Pete Dye-Jack Nicklaus design – home for 42 years to the RBC Heritage – has been dubbed one of the four “coolest” Tour stops by Bleacher Report, an online service that provides daily links to sports sites across the Internet, and also offers its own reports and opinions.

The listing places Harbour Town fourth behind No. 1 Pebble Beach Links, No. 2 Riviera Golf Club and No. 3 Augusta National – homes to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Northern Trust Open and the Masters, respectively. Bleacher Report limited its choices to courses that are part of the PGA Tour on an annual basis.

What makes a golf course “cool”? Writes columnist Mike Lynch, who chose the Top 10 for Bleacher Report: “I looked for outstanding strategic architecture, beautiful scenery and the course having a unique identity … What I specifically avoided were courses that seemingly presented the same challenge over and over again.”

That’s never an issue with Harbour Town, where Dye incorporated old-growth forests, marshes, water and sand to challenge the pros to shape shots within the course’s narrow confines. The short-by-modern-standards layout also features roomy holes, notably the iconic par-4 18th which features the famed Harbour Town lighthouse as a backdrop.

Harbour Town finds itself in good company. “All three courses of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am made the list (because) the Monterey Peninsula is just an outstanding landscape for a course,” Lynch writes. He also praised The Greenbrier and Riviera for “terrific architecture.”

Here’s what Lynch says about Harbour Town:

“The course is proof that length is not needed to present a challenge. With tight fairways and small greens, it demands precision on all shots. Overhanging limbs draped with Spanish moss tighten the course even further. The control of trajectory and ball flight make it perhaps the best shot-makers’ course on tour. Harbour Town provides the alternative to the ‘bomb and gouge’ courses that dominate the tour.

“The final three holes, which play near the (Calibogue) Sound, are both a challenging and beautiful way to end (a round). The playoff duel between (winner) Brandt Snedeker and Luke Donald in (the 2011 Heritage) is a testament to that. The 18th hole, with the candy-stripe lighthouse behind the green, is among the most famous closing holes in the sport.”

To read the entire top 10, click here.