Harbour Town - South Carolina - USA

Harbour Town Golf Links,
The Sea Pines Resort,
32 Greenwood Dr,
Hilton Head Island,
South Carolina (SC) 29928,
USA


  • +1 800 925 4653

  • Cary Corbitt

  • Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus

  • John Farrell


Visit Golfbreaks.com for a golf holiday at Harbour Town

Harbour Town Golf Links is the best of the three outstanding courses at the Sea Pines Resort and Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus designed it.

Home to the annual Heritage Classic (now called the RBC Heritage), Harbour Town opened for play in 1969 and it has remained in the top echelons of resort golf ever since. The course is laid out on relatively flat ground with the fairways flanked by pines. The smallish greens are very fair and not tricked up in any way.

With a wonderful closing hole, it’s likely that Harbour Town will remain lodged in the memory for years. The 18th is a brutish par four which measures 478 yards from the tips. A solid drive on the line of the lighthouse will find the landing area which juts out into the Calibogue Sound. The lighthouse here at Harbour Town reminds us of a jollier version of the other famous lighthouse at the fabulous Turnberry Resort in Scotland.

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Reviews for Harbour Town

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: Harbour Town Golf Links is the best of the three outstanding courses at the Sea Pines Resort and Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus designed it. Rating: 4.9285714285714 out of 6

A parkland championship course located on an island seriously full of golf courses and at a resort (Sea Pines) which has three courses of its own. The course is the annual home of the PGA Tour stop for the Heritage Classic. Quite a tight course and with small greens which place a premium on accuracy for decent scoring. The feature hole is the 18th, but my favourites were the relatively short par 4 13th with it's horse-shoe shaped bunker and the dog-leg left 16th, again with a giant bunker asking the approach shot to be bold. Other high points were seeing the spanish moss hanging from the old branches (a first for me in real life rather than just the zoom-in on TV!) and the quality of the conditioning.

But there's just a bit too much sameishness with the narrow holes, overhanging branches and small greens, especially on the front nine, to make this a full 6-ball course for me.

January 10, 2018


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To summarize Harbour Town: narrow fairways and small greens. The design, layout and routing are imaginative and good, even though the course is completely flat. You can't just get up and hit driver on every hole. It is designed to really make you think about the type and shape of the shot before hitting each one. The narrowness of the fairways and the over-hanging trees force you to have to hit a certain side of the fairway in order to have a decent shot at the small greens. In this regard, Harbour Town reminded me of Merion.

Although the fairways in reality are not that narrow, they give the appearance of being so. This is because so many of the holes have overhanging trees that encroach over the fairways, making it a visually difficult golf course to drive the ball. Harbour Town represents the type of short, shot-makers course that seems to be out of vogue. It's nice to have world-class courses like this that are not all about length and brute force.

The other thing I appreciate about Harbour Town as a student of golf history is that this is one of Pete Dye's earliest designs and one of the first he used railroad ties on. As essentially the first course of its genre built in the modern era, this makes it a historically important course. Jack Nicklaus was a co-designer, and it was the first course he was involved with from a design standpoint. Also, I like the Low country setting with all the live oak trees with their hanging Spanish moss. The course also has a very interesting combination of palmetto trees, pine trees, elm trees, pampas grasses and other native plants.

My two favorite holes on the course were the 13th and the 16th, which showcase Dye's bunkering abilities. The 13th has a narrow landing area off the tee. It is critical to hit your drive to the right-hand side of the fairway to have a reasonable shot at this unique green. The green itself is 'Y' shaped, with an imposing railroad-tied bunker half-way around it.

John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs

November 30, 2016


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When the trip you have had planned for months takes you towards an impending hurricane that may or may not hit land, may or may not dump 25+inches of rain on the courses you aim to play you start to wonder if jumping in a plane to Savannah is all that wise an idea. Everyone has their turning point so we watched carefully and after a very rough flight in we were set to go at Harbor Town. The storm missed us by about Harbour Town Golf Course - Photo by reviewer2 hours dumping 30 inches of rain on Kiawah Island (the next stop) and forcing evacuation. Harbor Town to our surprise was absolutely fine albeit a touch wet with all the recent rain.

Interestingly enough this was only my second Bermuda grass experience. If you can remember your first games on this turf you will no doubt remember how tricky it is, how it catches the balls that you think will release and roll up onto the green and how the rough catches your club like trying to hit out of a large soft wet sponge.

The course is infamously known as a pure ball strikers course and requires heavily shaped shots to play it really well. The routing is semi tight and tree lined. Not the kind of course to bang drivers on but the type to carefully plot your way around setting up your next shot or facing circus act approaches over, under and around trees and branches.
Harbour Town Golf Course - Photo by reviewer
Despite the narrowness of the course Harbour Town makes this work with excellent greens and bunkering. Make no doubt about it, it’s a championship course and easy for even the best of players to run up high numbers even when the wind is down.

While the entire routing is excellent my favorite part is the infamous finish. Holes 16-18 are a fantastic climax with 17 and 18 being the most picturesque holes on the course. 17 is a mid length par 3 out toward the Atlantic with slightly raised two tiered green that is fronted by a bunker and water and runs away from the tee from right to left calling for a perfectly judged ball flight into the wind that is nearly always present.

The 18th holes plays towards the famous red and white striped lighthouse and runs along with Atlantic. An excellent drive taking on the water on the left affords you with the best angle of approach. The approach requires a mid iron into the wind over water to fairly narrow green, a challenging finish to a great championship course.
February 03, 2016


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I had heard from several locals that the course would be in terrible shape, and parts of it were, but most of it was fine. The day was overcast and rain was predicted, but as I stood on the first tee box, it was dry.

I liked Harbour Town, especially the short par 4s. There are three holes that are 330 yards or less, and each of them offers a unique challenge. The overall length is only 6,500 yards (short by today’s standards), with postage-stamp greens and very strategically placed trees and pot bunkers. I hit irons off the tee on these three holes and had only wedges in, but each approach had something very challenging about it, especially if wasn’t in the right spot on the fairway. Of course, walking up 18 was a trill as I drove it to the right of the salty marsh and approached the famous red-and-white-striped lighthouse behind the 18th green. Every morning in South Carolina, I awoke to predictions of rain, but no rain fell until the 17th hole of Harbour Town, when it started raining and kept raining until I got on the plane at 5 p.m. Larry Berle.
November 10, 2014


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Keith Baxter
November 10, 2014
The above review is an edited extract from A Golfer’s Dream, which has been reproduced with the author’s kind permission. A Golfer’s Dream, by Larry Berle, tells the story of how a regular guy conquered America’s Top 100 Golf Courses (following Golf Digest’s 2001/2002 list). Larry has exclusively rated for us every course in the hundred, using our golf ball rating system. However, Larry did not rate the 100 courses against every golf course he has played, but instead he rated them in relation to each other within the hundred. Consequently, in some cases, his rating may seem rather low. A Golfer’s Dream is available in Kindle format and also on Kindle Unlimited via Amazon... click the link for more. 
Before posting, I reviewed some of the past comments. I am among those who think the course is both well-designed and great fun to play. Two of us set off last week, on a day forecast to be wet. Since there were just two of us, walking with a caddie, we were able to start on #10. By our second hole, it was pouring and never let up. Finishing our nine, we were soaked and stopped by the pro shop to find out if they had a rain-check policy. They did, indeed, and invited us back the next day to play the full course under better conditions. The staff was most accommodating.We showed up the next day, and the course, including the greens, had drained magnificently after the full soaking it had received the day before. We started on #1, the same caddie carrying our bags, and enjoyed the full course in excellent weather. For those of us who not only play but watch televised golf, Harbour Town ranks high among the iconic golf courses in the States. The narrow, tree-lined fairways and small greens are known to all. The Heritage Classic is always fun to watch, and the course proved fun to play. I too had heard that the off season conditions were often poor, but we found the course in excellent shape, eminently playable for an early February day. The greens were excellent, and the course was well manicured. Yes, holes 16-18 are perhaps the highlight as you play toward, then along, Calibogue Sound, and the back nine is the better of the two, but the front is fun and challenging. In the pleasant winter weather of Hilton Head, Harbour Town, at the reduced seasonal rate, offers a great chance to play a very good golf course. One note: if you are looking for a caddie, and KJ is available, hire him. He’s knowledgeable and personable. BGD
February 13, 2013


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I have yet to meet someone who played here and then raved about it. Does NOT live up to reputation, not a Top 100 course, no way. Good par 3's but other than that nothing memorable until 16,17, & 18.
October 27, 2011


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Mediocre. $145 twilight rate is about right (plus $50 for forecaddy). I played yesterday and there are three interesting/memorable holes in the first 15 and then an ecellent final three. Otherwise stay on one side of the fairway and a midiron dodging trees to a small well-defended green. BORING. If you enjoy dinking off trees and hitting off pine straw, this is the course for you. I wouldn't play again.
September 18, 2010


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A very mediocre golf course. A mediocre condition, mediocre design.12 very so-so holes in the beginning followed by 6 more interesting holes.May be in the Top100 USA but definitely not world.
July 11, 2010


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Andrew
July 21, 2010
A mediocre course in mediocre condition is awarded a five-ball score? Please explain.
ivan
July 23, 2010
All is relative. This course is mediocre compared to the REAL TOP courses like say the great links courses of Ireland and Scotland or Pine Valley or Cypress Point. It is still not on par with the other very good courses, e.g. Bethpage Black. But relative to the vast majority of golf it is not bad at all
What a superb course. Given its golfing pedigree and history, relative to other more nondescript PGA Tour venues, it was surprising and pleasing to find that Harbour Town is a very understated and relaxing place to play. The ambiance of the place oozes southern hospitality, which begins with the friendly caddie master and continues with your forecaddie who accompanies you on your journey along the narrowest of narrow fairways which meander through the forest. A lot has been written about Harbour Town's scenic finish and yes, you will need your camera, but for me the strategy required to tackle the holes which come before is the lasting impression. The greens are wonderful: the size of a dime and devilishly quick. I got into the habit of asking the caddie on the tee rather than the fairway where the pin was placed as placing the tee shot became so crucial. On many occasions, what looked like a good drive was maddeningly blocked out by a well-placed tree. Many won't like this but for me this course was a delight. The short par 4's, 9 and 13, really stood out. And of course, as you emerge from the forest leaving the 16th, the beautiful Calibogue Sound awaits. I can't wait to go back one day.
June 28, 2010


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Harbour Town 13th - photo by Mac PlumartThis golf course represents a magnficent chess match between the architect and the golfer. As a player, you must analyse the terrain in front of you and figure out how to get the ball down the fairway and on the green prior to striking the ball. If you do not, you will be out of position and blocked completely from the green. Even if you do wind up in the correct position hitting these teeny-tiny greens is a challenge not only due to their size but also the bunkers which are strategically placed and unique. Also, the routing on this course is second to none. It takes you on a journey from a tight narrow course which begins on hole #1 and ends in magnificent wide open beauty on the wide open ocean/waterway lined 18th hole backed up by the famous light house. Frankly, this is one of the most unique and interesting courses I have ever played.
February 23, 2010


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