Harbour Town Tops the Marquee at RBC Heritage

By: David Wood

This year's RBC Heritage at the Sea Pines Resort doesn't lack for marquee value as it features 14 of the top 29 players in the world and nine previous winners of the prestigious event. However, the big star for the week is Harbour Town Golf Links.

18th Hole at Harbour Town Golf Links

In the late 1960s, Harbour Town opened to much fanfare for its revolutionary design and hosted a nascent PGA Tour tournament - the Heritage Classic. Swashbuckling Arnold Palmer staged one of his patented final-round charges for the inaugural victory, launching both the Lowcountry as a prime golf destination and the course-design reputation of Pete Dye.

For decades, high praise has been the norm - from famed golf writer Dan Jenkins calling the 18 "nothing short of a work of art" to this year's pre-tournament favorite Luke Donald calling it "one of the true gems we play on Tour."

Few courses offer the tapestry of history, design ingenuity, beauty and acclaim. Throughout the 18 holes, large waste bunkers, railroad ties, expansive lagoons, live oaks draped in Spanish moss, palmetto palms and magnolias influence the line of play and demand the attention of golfers.

Not long by today's standards - it's just over 7,100 yards against a par of 71 - there is almost a hushed museum quality to Harbour Town's atmosphere as you know you're somewhere special.

This isn't grip-it-and-rip-it golf; it's all about strategy as you plot your way around with your brain cells hopefully working in concert. Players must not only find the fairway, but often must land on the proper quadrants in order to safely reach the greens - which often seem smaller than a typical New York City studio apartment.

Jason Day, after carding an opening round 4-under 67, said, "You can't overpower this course. You have to position yourself off the tee to attack the flags, and your short game has to be sharp. It's one of the few 'old school' courses we play throughout the year."

When asked about what makes Harbour Town so special, Donald added, "Modern architects should take a long look at Harbour Town and realize they don't need to build long, hard courses to make them tough."

Harbour Town can be experienced by all as it's open for public play. Watch the tournament on television, then visit Sea Pines and match wits with Dye. Though often humbling, it's a blast to try to hit the same shots as the best in the game did during the heat of competition.

Yes a winner will don the traditional red tartan jacket on Sunday, but he'll share the acclaim with Harbour Town Golf Links. For more information, visit www.seapinesgolf.com.

In addition to writing on golf and travel, author and noted speaker David Wood has made several appearances on "Late Night with David Letterman" as well as dozens of other television shows. His book - "Around the World in 80 Rounds" - was just released in paperback on www.Amazon.com. Currently he works in public relations with Buffalo Communications in Vienna, Va. His website is www.DavidWoodSpeaking.com.