A Heritage champion once said that coming to Harbour Town Golf Links the week after the Masters is like playing the Super Bowl and then heading to Disney World – pure enjoyment. For years, touring pros have looked forward to bringing their families here for the Heritage Classic because the atmosphere is as special as the course.
Visitors come from across the nation and around the world to enjoy the week that every year transforms Hilton Head Island from being just a lot more pleasant than home – to full-blown paradise. Often the pro-am and qualifying rounds are played in sweater-vests and the finals in summer attire. This is the week when Hilton Head Island hits its stride, and you can feel the celebration.
Someone said that the only folks who enjoy the Heritage more than the pro golfers and the visitors are the Hilton Head Island residents. Just when we think we know how good it is to live here, the Heritage comes again, and we are reminded of a whole bunch more. You can see it in the way people walk the course, what they wear, the smiles and laughs.
Whatever Course You Take
And one of the inside stories of Hilton Head Island is that the course they see on TV when they watch the Heritage Classic is only the beginning of the options that people in Spicebush at Sea Pines enjoy. The first thing to know is that the famed Harbour Town Golf Links represent just one of three courses that are our neighbors here. Two more await right here in Sea Pines, offering their own unique versions of the authentic, Lowcountry golf experience.
Atlantic Dunes is a complete reconstruction of the historic Ocean Course, which was both designed and redesigned by Davis Love III. The result? Atlantic Dunes was named National Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owner’s Association. The course sometimes flirts with the shoreline and sometimes embraces it, blending that beachfront with the stately pines that gave this resort its name, and with the ancient, Spanish moss-draped live oaks that seem to pass an age-old blessing on the rounds of Harbour Town golf that people play today.
Heron Point, a 7,035-yard course from the back tees, offers an excellent round for the heavy hitter. With seven sets of tees, including tees for junior golfers, this Pete Dye course can be played a variety of ways, including shorter. Regardless of the approach you choose, the experience is dramatic, with four holes guarded by water; fairways bounded by dense, green bulkheads and walls of wooded groves; and Dye’s sculptural way of using mounds and swales to both frame and guard the target areas. The course achieves this in the nature-friendly way pioneered by Sea Pines, such that it has won the designation of Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. It’s welcome and challenge to golfers made Heron Point the 2015 Golf Course of the Year for South Carolina, and one of Golf Digest’s “Best Places to Play.”
The Course of Legends
When they completed it, just in time for the first Heritage Classic tournament, course architect Pete Dye and consultant Jack Nicklaus predicted that “only players of championship quality” would win at Harbour Town Golf Links. Indeed, only four of the 53 Heritage winners thus far found their first championship here.
Harbour Town Golf Links calls for skill with every club – and a bit of cunning they say. Designed like the links of Scotland, it can’t be won with power alone, or even power primarily. It’s interesting that even when they reached into history for the design, Dye, Nicklaus, and Fraser were ahead of their time. The links design at Harbour Town anticipated by more than four decades the restoration of Pinehurst No. 2 to its original design.
When Harbour Town Golf Links was completed – in just 18 months – for that first Heritage, Sports Illustrated called it “nothing short of a work of art.”
It is not just a tournament. The Heritage is truly a celebration. A celebration of the season, of the place, and of golf itself. The course that was built for it is alive and living right here in the neighborhood of Spicebush. It’s just one of the blessings we celebrate here at the neighborhood wrapped in a resort.