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Monday, April 7, 2014

Harbour Town Rewards the Shot Maker

Tiny greens, narrow fairways, and breathtaking vistas of Calibogue Sound with the most-recognized lighthouse in America are hallmarks of world-famous Harbour Town Golf Links. It was one of Pete Dye’s earliest designs (with able assistance from Jack Nicklaus) and accordingly puts a premium on shot-making and course management rather than brute strength. From the tips, its 7,101 yards with a 75.6 rating/147 slope. There are four shorter sets of tees, though, and you’ll enjoy the course more if you choose the right ones for your game. I played the blues (6,640 yards) with a former European Tour player and they were plenty for both of us.

Harbour Town builds a crescendo as your round unfolds. It’s demanding, solid golf through the first two-thirds of the course, but starts its climb to the climatic 18th hole once you reach number 13, a 354-yard par four where Dye’s trademark railroad ties elevate a tiny, tricky green above a bunker that surrounds it on three sides. That’s followed by the often-televised par-three 14th hole, 165-yards where the water in front and along the right are the only things you can think about. The last par five on the course is hole 15, 541-yards that demands a long drive and perfect second shot to avoid the water on the left.

The 16th hole, 395 yards, can humiliate the best players. It’s a hard dogleg left where the landing area is dominated by trees in the middle of the fairway and the green is guarded by massive bunkers.  The wind-blown 17th hole, a 174-yard par three, demands not just directional control but perfect distance, since long is as bad as short.

Then there is the finisher, a 444-yard par four that plays along Calibogue Sound.  Your aiming point off the tee is the candy-striped lighthouse in the distance. Your second shot will be a long iron or something similar that has to carry over the sound. You can bail right, but then you’ll have some tricky grass mounding to contend with as you chip to the green. It’s a hole you’ll remember.

While you’re in Sea Pines, check out the other two courses, Heron Point by Pete Dye, which opened in 2007, and the Ocean Course, rebuilt by Mark McCumber in 1995.

Right now, you can experience three nights in private villa accommodations and three rounds at Sea Pines’ championship golf courses (including Harbour Town) for a bargain rate of $213 per golfer. There are even complimentary repeat rounds at Heron Point and Ocean Course based on availability. Sea Pines recently unveiled the new 23,000 square foot Plantation Golf Club and golf learning center at its Heron Point by Pete Dye and Ocean courses This value-packed offer also includes complimentary range balls, 10 percent pro shop discount on retail merchandise and 10 percent food and beverage discount at the resort's restaurants. Price is per golfer, per night based on quad occupancy in a two bedroom villa. Valid through May 31, 2014 at www.SeaPinesGolf.com

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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