Harbour Town at Heart
Harbour Town Golf Links, host of the Heritage, demands accuracy.
At 6973 yards the course is a modern classic, and considering it has followed Augusta National 25 times in the tournament’s 40 year history, it would have to be. Situated at Hilton Head’s Sea Pines Resort, Pete Dye along with Jack Nicklaus created something special with Harbour Town; a course that has stood the test of time. In an age of booming golf technology it is one of only seven courses on Tour under 7,000 yards, yet each year it continues prove itself as one of the toughest.
Hitting the fairway is simply not enough at Harbour Town, as Jim Furyk pointed out yesterday "If you don’t hit to the exact proper spot in the fairway you have to carve a lot of shots into the green." To have a successful performance like Boo Weekly last year strategy must be consider from the tee. Not too surprising when you consider Jack Nicklaus had his hand in the design. When asked what’s the most important shot? Jack replies "My next shot". It is that type of course management philosophy that has become a reality at Harbour Town thanks to the help of Pete Dye.
It was Jack, who had just begun to take an interest in course design and recognized Pete’s potential, suggesting he be brought on board the project. It was 1963 and Pete, and wife Alice, relatively unknown at the time had just returned from a touring the links courses in Scotland. After studying the ageless classics it is no wonder that one of his first major commissions placed such an emphasis on strategy. Today Nicklaus has his own design enterprise, while Pete Dye’s name is now common place with a reputation that precedes him as an innovator and father to modern golf course architecture.
Over the years Pete has predicated a successful family design firm. Today, Dye Designs now runs seven family members strong, spanning three generations. Collectively responsible for The TPC at Sawgrass, Whistling Straights, Teeth of the Dog, and many more. Though the firm’s design philosophies are not as eloquently self-articulated as Rees Jones’ or Tom Doak’s, their work inherently illustrates their understanding of how to create world class golf courses.
Harbour Town is not about strength it’s about golfing intelligence. On the Tour to follow a major is a difficult task, making it easy for courses like this to fly under the radar. It was the combined golfing intellect of Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus that shaped Harbour Town with a relentless ability to humbly embrace this role.