Harbor Town Golf Links profile: RBC Heritage requires perfection of shooting

(CBS Miami/ CBS Local) – Harbor Town Golf Links this week hosts RBC Heritage, the first PGA Tour event after this year’s Masters. The famous field on Hilton Head Island first opened and hosted the tournament more than 50 years ago. Developed by the dynamic team of Jack Nicklaus and Pete Day, it was completed in a time-constrained setting, just in time to watch Arnold Palmer end a 14-month drought victory over Bert Yancey and Richard Crawford.

“I just want to thank Jack for building the course so I can win again,” Palmer said after winning in late November, a few months after he turned 40.

The beauty of Harbor Town, built on flat, low-lying wetlands, lies not only in the calm and inspiring setting on Hilton Head Island, near Kalibog Bay. It’s also in his strategic minimalist design that was controversial at the time (like many Dye-signed designs), usually with its painfully narrow fairways and shallow greenery.

The par-71 layout at the time of opening had only 6,657 yards (now 7,099 yards), which is small even by 1960s standards. But what he lacked in length, he made up for with his routing and unique features. Harbor Town requires perfection in photography to avoid hundreds of trees – felled after the devastating destruction of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 – and the many “sharp, clear” bunkers that Dai once said are his best fortune. (Historical nugget: Some of the larger masses of sand became known as “waste bins,” a term first introduced in Harbor Town, according to Dai.)

“We tried to make it require a clear, well-played strike,” Nicklaus said before the initial Heritage program, which began Nov. 28, on Thanksgiving. “A bad shot can get you in trouble.”

Nicklaus learned how much trouble when he ended up level in sixth place with 75 finishes and 5 over 289. But the Golden Bear himself won the competition in 1975, a considerable achievement given that Harbor Town bound his power. The victory was one of four of Nicklaus ’73 victories in the PGA Tour that took place on courses with his designer signature. The rest were two wins in a memorial tournament held by Nationwide in 1977 and 1984, an event he has hosted since 1976, and the Ohio Kings Open Championship in 1973 on the Grizzly Field near Cincinnati.

Dai credited his Ohio-born colleague, Ohio, for adopting the design concept at Harbor Town and perfecting its features, which was enlightening for the creative architect, who of course knew full well that Nicklaus ’game was built on force. This design, which requires precise play, includes a 14-hole 192-yard hole, a par-3, a 14-hole hole played over water, and a 472-yard, par-4 18th, among the PGA’s most colorful finish holes. Tour.

The co-designers paid close attention to the reaction of the players in that first year and were generally pleased that, although there were some design issues, most of the players were complimentary, perhaps no more than Lee Trevina, one of the most famous golf drivers. But there must have been a grunt when the ammunition in the 80s was twice as much as the nominal ammunition.

When legendary writer Dan Jenkins called it “East Pebble Beach,” Day and Nicklaus were pleased to have created an iconic golf course that has stood the test of time as the ultimate challenge in this modern age of ever-longer rides.

The list of winners speaks about the quality of the layout. Virtuosos like Johnny Miller, Hubert Green, Hale Irwin and of course Palmer and Nicklaus showed the way. Later came Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Greg Norman, and the all-time leading all-time winner, five-time winner Davis Love III. Jim Furick, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson are among the notable winners of the last decade.

When Nicklaus made his final planning tour two weeks before the inaugural tournament, he realized that Heritage Classic (a name inspired by what is considered the first golf club in the United States – South Carolina Golf Club, chartered in 1896) needed a course. which would suit founder Charles Fraser and the PGA Tour as hoped it would be a special event on the schedule. Said Jack, prophetically, “They have the ability in the process to do that.”


Back to top button