Saturday, December 14, 2013

2014 Travel Schedule

Now that I have work and personal schedules sorted out for 2014, I have started to reserve some tee times. Below is what I have already confirmed. If you are going to be in or around any of the below courses and would like a playing partner, please feel free to contact me. I would love to have some company, that shares the same passion for golf as I do, join me on some of these fantastic courses.

All rankings listed below are based off of world (and U.S.) rankings found at and Golf Magazine. Golf Digest magazine had its own separate world rankings that have been included in parenthesis. Those separate 2014 world rankings can be found HERE.

March 2014 (Mississippi and Las Vegas)

March 5 - #30 (Public) Fallen Oak Golf Club
March 6 - NR Grand Bear Golf Club
March 6 - NR Shell Landing Golf Club
March 10 - #32 (PublicDancing Rabbit GC - Azaleas Course 
March 10 - NR Dancing Rabbit GC - Oaks Course
March 16 - #60 (Public) Cascata Golf Club
March 16 - NR Tuscany Golf Club
March 17 - #56 (U.S.)/#18 (Public) (#75 World Golf Digest)  Shadow Creek Golf Course
March 28 - #57 (U.S.) - Golden Horseshoe Golf Course (Gold)
March 29 - NR Williamsburg National GC - Jamestown Course
March 29 - NR Williamsburg National GC - Yorktown Course

May 2014 (Australia and New Zealand)

May 19 - #94 (World) (#28 World Golf Digest)  Royal Melbourne Golf Club - East Crse
May 19 - #28 (World) (#20 World Golf Digest) Kingston Heath GC
May 20 - #13 (World) (#9 World Golf Digest) Royal Melbourne Golf Club - West Crse
May 21 - #72 (World) (#23 World Golf Digest) Barnbougle Lost Farms Golf Club
May 22 - #34 (World) (#11 World Golf Digest) Barnbougle Dunes Golf Club
May 26 - #38 (World) (#22 World Golf Digest) Cape Kidnappers Golf Course
May 27 - #74 (World) (#39 World Golf Digest) Kauri Cliffs Golf Course
May 29 - #99 (World)  Royal Adelaide GC
May 30 - #41 (World) (#33 World Golf Digest) New South Wales GC

July 2014 (Nebraska and England)

July 9 - #12 (World)/#9 (U.S.) - Sand Hills Golf Club - 2 rounds
July 10 - #88 (Public) - Wild Horse GC
July 17 - NR Woodhall Spa - Bracken Course
July 17 - #62 (World) (#88 World Golf Digest) Woodhall Spa - Hotchkin Course 
July 18 - #31 (World) (#38 World Golf Digest) Royal Birkdale Golf Club
July 19 - Attending 3rd round of The Open Championship
July 20 - Attending final round of The Open Championship
July 21 - #59 (World) (#81 World Golf Digest) Royal Lytham & St. Annes Golf Club
July 22 - #84 (World) Ganton Golf Club
July 23 - #39 (World) (#41 World Golf Digest) Sunningdale Golf Club - Old Course
July 23 - NR (#91 World Golf Digest) Sunningdale Golf Club - New Course
July 24 - #29 (World) (#66 World Golf Digest) Royal St. George's Golf Club
July 25 - #96 (World) (#78 World Golf Digest) Rye Golf Club
July 26 - NR Forest of Arden Country Club - Championship Arden Course

August 2014 (Louisiana)

August 18 - NR TPC Louisiana

September 2014 (New York & New Jersey)

September 15 - #67 (World)/#37 (U.S.) Maidstone Club
September 15 - NR Tallgrass Golf Club
September 16 - #47 (World)/#26 (U.S.) Garden City Golf Club
September 16 - #36 (World)/#23 (U.S.) Bethpage Black Golf Course
September 17 - #21 (World)/#13 (U.S.) Winged Foot GC (West)
September 18 - #50 (U.S) Plainfield CC

November 2014 (North Carolina)

November 16 - NR Pinehurst #9
November 16 - NR (#44 Public Golf Digest) Pinehurst #4
November 17 - NR Pinehurst #3
November 18 - NR Pinehurst #7
November 18 - NR Pinehurst #1
November 19 - NR Pinehurst #5
November 19 - NR Pinehurst #6
November 20 - #16 (World), #10 (U.S.), #3 (Public) - Pinehurst #2
November 21 - #96 (Public) - Pinehurst #8

December 2014 (Oregon)

December 1 - #88 (World), #45 (U.S.), #10 (Public) Old Macdonald Course - 2 rounds
December 2 - #63 (World), #34 (U.S.), #8 (Public) Bandon Dunes Course - 2 rounds
December 3 - #20 (World), #12 (U.S.), #1 (Public) Pacific Dunes Course - 2 rounds
December 4 - #49 (U.S.), #13 (Public) Bandon Trails Course2 rounds
December 5 - #56 (Public) - Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club (Ghost Creek)

Friday, December 13, 2013

47 (Public) Bay Hill Club & Lodge

November 6, 2013

Like the majority of people that read this blog, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Arnold Palmer. So, when I found out I had a business trip to Orlando, I knew I had to try to play at Bay Hill. I took the red eye from Seattle so I could arrive in Orlando in the early afternoon and still be able to hit the course. It is listed throughout The World's 500 Greatest Golf Holes. The 18th hole is listed in the top 100 holes of the world. The 17th hole listed in the top 500 holes of the world, as well as one of the 18 most penal holes in the world.

Upon arrival, I checked in at the Bay Hill Lodge.  I had a spectacular view of the course as seen in the photo below.

I had always thought the window you see in the photos was a painting or doctored up. But, that is the actual view out on the course.  I also like the fact that you get a care package that included a cup, hat clip with ball marker, and other assorted souvenirs. My wife loves the scent of the shampoo and body wash you also receive as is standard in any top notch hotel.

After checking in and breaking my clubs out of my hard shell travel case, I took the 3 minute walk to the clubhouse where I was greeted with a very friendly crew. I purchased a logo shirt and ball and then made my way to the starter.  Unfortunately, I don't think they allow walking here, at least not for visitors, as I was saddled with a cart.  Also, my string of bad luck with playing the course by myself continued from my experience at Harbour Town. The two gentlemen I was scheduled to play with had arrived early and teed off. There was no one else on the tee sheet for the rest of the day so I apparently had the course to myself for the remainder of sunlight.  

I was initially disappointed as I was slated to play the Challenger and Champion courses, but ended up being assigned the Charger and Champion courses. The Charger 9 holes were closed for repairs and maintenance. But, it is hard to be disappointed for long at a course that hosts one of the tournaments most favored by the PGA Tour professionals.

In the grand scheme of things, I don't think there were a lot of holes that stood out on their own. Everyone knows the 18th is notable among golf's most dramatic finishing holes. The 3rd (dogleg around water), 6th (another dogleg around water), 8th, 11th (surprise -  a dogleg around water), and 13th holes had water around or near them that made them challenging. I did quite enjoy the 17th and 18th hole finish. Otherwise, the house-lined fairways on the rest of the course proved surprisingly dull. Please don't take that statement as denigrating the course by claiming it wasn't well maintained and in superb shape. The care put into it is definitely evident on every hole and shows in the few photos that I took. I think if I had the opportunity to play the Charger course, it would have been a much more memorable round.

The 8th green at Bay Hill. 
The 13th green at Bay Hill. This was probably tied for my favorite hole on the course. A good drive down the middle of the fairway at about 250, sets up for a great opportunity to hit right at the flag.
#18 is listed as one of the top 100 holes in The World's 500 Greatest Golf Holes
Number 18 at Bay Hill was the other half of the tie for my favorite hole at Bay Hill. The shot is challenging across water and then sand to hit the green. As you can see from the photo, I got lucky with the wind direction on this day and was able to place the ball 5 feet from the hole to finish the round with a birdie. Besides being rated as one of the top 100 holes in the world by The World's 500 Greatest Golf Holes, #18 received several other accolades. They include:
  1. One of the most difficult 18 holes on the planet.
  2. One of the 18 best non-ocean, water holes on the planet.
  3. One of the best 18 holes designed since 1970.
  4. One of the 18 holes that have produced great moments.

On hole 14, I finally caught up with the twosome who I was supposed to play with. They weren't interested in me joining them for the final five holes so I waited until they finished 14. While waiting, another single caught up to me. We struck up a conversation and hit it right off. Luckily, he had the same first name as me (Mike) and so was easy to remember.

After finishing up on 18, we shook hands and he mentioned he was the chef at the Lodge.  He advised that Mr. Palmer had just arrived back in town and sometimes frequented the Bay Window Room for dinner.  We thanked each other for a great one-quarter of a round and went our separate ways. I made it back to my room, showered and changed for dinner, and headed over to the Bay Window Room for dinner.

As it turns out, I was the only one in the restaurant at the time. I ordered up my steak and wine, and while just killing time waiting for dinner, in walks none other than Mr. Palmer himself! There is nothing like having dinner alone in a restaurant with one of the greatest legends golf has ever known. He was also gracious enough to take a photo with me. A short time later, another gentleman entered the restaurant and came over to introduce himself. He was the notable PGA Champion Dow Finsterwald. It was quite the evening and one I will never forget!

Mr. Palmer and I at the Bay Window Restaurant.

Mr. Finsterwald and I at the Bay Window Restaurant.

64 (U.S.) / 17 (Public) Chambers Bay

October 29, 2013

Chambers Bay Golf Club has been chosen as the host course for the 2015 U.S. Open. For a relatively new course to be chosen for the U.S. Open is an incredible complement to all involved in making the course a reality.

Beyond knowing it was going to be a great course because the USGA chose it for one of the highest honors of hosting a U.S. Open, and because it was ranked #64 in the U.S., I didn't know it was going to steal my breath. My son, Wes, was able to come and visit us for a few days after he graduated basic training, and I wanted to reward him with an awesome father-son day. I had also been wanting to get down to Chambers Bay for months and this was the perfect opportunity.

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Upon arrival, this is the view we were greeted with. Just stunning!  Simply put - WOW! A perfect day weather wise. And using a new panoramic app for my iPad, I was able to snap this shot.

We made our way into the clubhouse, a building set high on top of a hill overlooking the entire course, as well as Puget Sound, and paid our green fees. I also picked up a logo ball for my cabinet. We then met the shuttle that would drive us the half mile down the hill to the range.  After hitting a few balls, Wes and I were ready to go and grabbed a ride on the shuttle another half a mile to the first hole.

Chambers Bay has an option to hire a caddie. As this was a father-son day, we opted out of the caddie and decided to enjoy the course by ourselves. The course was not crowded at all and we very rarely saw another golfer around. Chambers Bay is also a walking only course which adds to the pure golf experience. 

Next to the putting green, caddie shack, and snack bar, you are greeted by the course clock.

We hit a few balls across the putting green and they rolled true and straight.  We decided we were ready and we started our round.

Looking out from the tee box towards the first hole, there is nothing but golf course and Puget Sound. Every once in awhile, a train will go by, situated between the edge of the course and the Sound, but otherwise it is quiet and peaceful, with the sound of the wind and the seagulls. Most of the fairways are wide open and you can see just to the right of the photo where another fairway meets the first fairway seamlessly.

Above is the approach shot to the #2 green. You can also see a train going by in the left side of the photo. Also prominent is the Lone Fir, the backdrop of hole 15.

Here is my approach shot to the #3 green. As you can see, the bunkers have been allowed to grow and mature naturally. Members from the U.S. Open Committee make trips each month to check up on the course, and to their credit, they have left it as natural as possible.

The above photo is looking back down fairway #6 from the green. Every hole at Chambers Bay is unique and different, with its own personality. In the middle of the 6th fairway is a large dune that sits at 230 to the best of my recollection. If you can't go over that and fly your drive 250-260, you have a very narrow space on the left or right to hit the fairway. Up close, that dune is approximately 30 feet high.

There are also some seriously tall bunkers that can get in your way if you don't hit the ball straight.  Here is Wes left with a ridiculously tough approach shot.

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Another panoramic shot. Holes 8 and 9 are at the top of the hill and overlook the entire course and Puget Sound.

At this point, the marshal came up and advised us he didn't think we would have enough daylight to finish the round. So, I put away the phone and we played for a good while with no photos. I really need to get a digital camera.

The 15th is one of my favorite holes. You hit from an elevated tee box towards the Puget Sound. The wind blows straight into your face so you usually need an extra club or two depending on how hard the wind is blowing. A lone fir tree stands guard over the back of the green. I hit probably the luckiest shot of my golf life on this hole.  The wind caught my tee shot, pushed it left to about 10 yards left of that pot bunker on the left side of the photo. The ball caught the hill just right, rolled around the edge of the pot bunker, between the first two stakes at the edge of the green, and came to rest about three feet from the hole.  Sometimes lucky is better than good.

One of the few touches that the U.S. Open Committee has added to Chambers Bay is this bunker in the middle of the 18th fairway. The front edge sits at roughly 220 and the back edge at 235. Like #6, there is a very tight area to go left or right and still be on the fairway.  To give an idea of how deep that bunker is, Wes is 6 feet tall.  If you find yourself stuck in there, you are probably going to card a bogey or double or worse. Luckily, the Puget Sound is to your back, and if there is a wind, it pushes your ball down the fairway. Just after this bunker, the fairway slopes down and to the right towards the green, with a large sand area that follows the right side of the fairway almost all the way down to the green.

As we played through the course, it continually grew on me. By the time we had finished #6, the course had struck a cord with my soul. There are very few times in life where you feel a deep bond with anything. Chambers Bay grabbed me that way. It was one of those golf experiences I can't quite describe as anything but special. Every hole was different and special. The golf course lifted my spirit and made me feel as if I was a part of it. I feel Chambers Bay was a golf course built specifically for me and it is my favorite course anywhere in the world that I have ever played. It is the reason Links courses are my favorite type of course. And it is why I will play Chambers Bay every single chance I get. It is also the first course I have seriously debated becoming a member of, even though it is 40 miles from home.

It is no wonder why Chambers Bay was chosen for the 2015 U.S. Open. It is a magical course with 18 unique holes. Next time I play, I plan to take many more photos.

As we finished up 18, the sun was setting over the Olympic Mountains in the distance and Puget Sound close by. We took the shuttle the half mile or so back up the tall hill to my truck.  As we looked back, it was a stunning sunset and I snapped my last photo of the day.

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I look forward to other courses in my quest to play the top 100 in the world and the U.S. But it will be hard for any course to give me the same soul-bonding experience that Chambers Bay did.

It is now my home.

52 (U.S.) / 12 (Public) Steamsong (Red)

November 8, 2013

Work sent me to Orlando for a show and while there, I knew I wanted to get in a round at Bay Hill, regardless of whether it is in the top 100 or not. Anything attached to a the name of an iconic legend like Arnold Palmer can't be missed.  My recount of that round is here.

So, about a week before I made the cross country trip from Seattle to Orlando, my good friend Joe contacted me.He advised his company is affiliated with Streamsong Resort and he could get me a tee time.  Knowing that Streamsong only opened for business in January 2013 and both the red and blue courses cracked the top 100 in the U.S., I knew I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to play it. To make the top 100 list is a feat in and of itself, but to be selected just a few short months after you've opened to the public is incredible. And Streamsong didn't disappoint.

Joe scheduled a tee time for us and we were set for a Friday mid-morning round. Since I only had one day, we had to make a tough decision of which to play, the red or the blue. With the red being ranked at 52 and the blue being ranked at 62, we decided on the higher ranked course.  I made sure to get up an hour before the sun came up to make the two and a half hour drive south from Orlando.  Just a heads up if you decide you want to give the courses a play - plan ahead.  There are no hotels, except the few rooms (14 I think) offered on the course, for at least 20 miles. The only restaurant around is the Fifty-Nine, which is housed inside the only building around with the pro shop and club house. And my Garmin couldn't find the place. Luckily my iPad could pull it up on Google maps and I was off.

I arrived about an hour before our scheduled tee time as I had planned. I always like to get to a course about an hour early so I can hit the range, explore the pro shop, and stretch out properly. As with everything else that is a good deal away from the resort, so is the parking lot. I dropped my bag at the bag drop and drove back to the parking lot. They have a shuttle to pick you up but I declined. I wanted to walk and soak in my surroundings. As mentioned in my "About me' blog post, I like to take in the environment surrounding a golf course as much as I like hitting balls on the course. It is a total experience and it helps soothe the soul.

I made my way into the clubhouse, a very sleek, hardwood floor entrance. I didn't take a photo of it as I don't yet own a digital camera (though that will hopefully get remedied after Christmas), so I use my cell phone currently to take all my photos.  Here is a photo I found on a quick Google search of the clubhouse.

The pro shop is to the left, the Fifty-Nine Restaurant is to the right.

After checking into the pro shop, paying more than I did at Harbour Town just a few weeks before, picking up a logo ball for my cabinet, and picking out the steel blue shirt with course logo I was going to buy after the round, I made my way out of the double doors pictured above and to the cart queue, caddie station, and starters area. I have to admit I was extremely impressed with the service. I hadn't taken more than five steps before the marshal came up and greeted me and introduced me to our caddie for the day. He then directed me to the cart that would take me to the driving range. Remember, nothing is close by Streamsong and the range is no different. It is a five minute ride. It was a windy day, a perfect match for this gorgeous links course, and my balls were being pushed 20 yards off the target line from the 20 mph sustained winds and gusts up to 30 or so.  Fortunately, the sun was out with only a few scattered clouds so it was a beautiful day. I made adjustments to where I aimed down range, and to my luck, I was striking the ball cleanly and well.  I was excited. A short time later, Joe arrived, hit a few balls, and we were off.

I didn't feel right pulling my phone out too many times on the course (another reason to pick up a small digital camera when I am able to), and we were off. As mentioned in my blog about Chambers Bay, links courses are where I feel the most comfortable and most at home with. As I looked out at the first hole of Streamsong Red, that feeling swelled inside of me and there is no place on the globe I would rather be at that moment than on that course. I've said a few times about how everything is far away from Streamsong Resort. Well, it pays off in spades for the playing experience.  After the clubhouse is out of sight, there isn't another building or structure around. It is just you and the golf course.  It is a pure golf experience and a gorgeous sight to behold.

I was nervous teeing off and shanked my first shot left.  My caddie immediately showed he was going to help us have the best round possible and told me to forget about it and hit another.  I felt a sense of calm come over me and struck a pure drive down the middle. 

It is what you would expect of a links course. There are gradual meandering hills and dunes (some of which can be 15 or 20 feet tall or taller), deep bunkers spread smartly throughout, a few blind shots, and a few feet into the rough will kill any chance of a good score on any particular hole due to the make up of the rough, whether it be tall scrub bushes or rocks and sand mixed.

One of the first things that made Streamsong stand out from other courses I played came on the 3rd hole. The hazards are...different. The tee box looks out over about 150 yards of water before it gives way to the fairway.  With the winds, it is a tough shot with a high dune to your right and a lake to your left. Luckily, I put mine down the middle. Once we rounded the bend, crossed the bridge, and entered back onto the fairway, we weren't expecting the lateral hazard we found.

The lakes are filled with alligators. You have to be careful if you hit the ball near the water's edge because you never know when one will be lurking. On hole 7 or 8, there is a gorgeous peninsula hole surrounded by water.  While we are putting, another 15 foot alligator started lazily swimming our way. Not wanting to tempt fate, we finished up and let him (or her) be. And alligators aren't the only natural hazard to watch out for. On the first hole, Joe had hit his into the rough. He started to venture out into it when our caddie warned us to be careful and that a golfer had been bitten by a rattlesnake or a copperhead just a week before. 

But, the dangers of the creatures were soon forgotten with the beauty of the course itself. As we made our way through the course, I pulled out my phone and shot the photo somewhere along the front nine. My apologies for forgetting what hole this is. In the future, I am going to be more careful about tracking what the photos are that I take.

Much like Chambers Bay, every hole is unique and has it's only little quirks. It makes for a very memorable round.  Did I mention I love Links courses? And I think this is one of the reasons. Every hole is different if allowed to mature on its own. As you can also see, there isn't a building or structure around.

Our caddie also took a photo of Joe and I, and since I don't have many photos of the course, I am going to post it here. (I am on the right in black shirt).

Again, you can see the high dunes in the background and the rolling hills in the left back of the shot.

On the back nine, the blue and red butt up against each other on a few holes. We were on 15, and we were looking down onto the shot that has made Streamsong famous from their blue course.

A gorgeous par 3 from an elevated tee.

I regret not taking more photos and will make sure to do so the next time I play Streamsong. The money spent was worth every penny and I would highly recommend either course to anyone. If I had a choice of clubs to join, Streamsong would be right up in the running as a top three pick. The fairways and greens were immaculate, the bunkers were in pristine condition, and no buildings around gives you a pure golf experience that is hard to find nowadays.

After an awesome day on the course, Joe and I retired to the Fifty-Nine Restaurant for beer and dinner. We caught up on old times. I then made a quick stop by the pro shop to pick up my shirt and made the long drive back to Orlando.

Joe advised to come back and play anytime. I am going to hold him to it the next time I am anywhere within 100 miles of the resort. I want to get the Blue Course under my belt and play the Red Course again (and again and again).  Thanks for an awesome day, Joe!

Streamsong Red is ranked #52 in the U.S. It was not ranked in 2011.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

81 (World) / 42 (U.S.). / 9 (Public) Harbour Town Golf Links

October 22, 2013

Harbour Town Golf Links was designed by Pete Dye in 1969 with the help of professional golfer Jack Nicklaus. It has received many accolades and details of various parts of the course can be found in both Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die and The World's 500 Greatest Golf Holes and has three holes that appear in the 500 greatest golf holes in the world (#15, #17, and #18).

Harbour Town was my first experience with a top 100 course in the world. It is what piqued my interest in trying to play the other top 100 courses in the world. So, as you can imagine, I took a ton of photos.

My son, Wes, was at Marine Corp basic training in Parris Island, SC, from June through October. I knew when he decided to go to Parris Island in July, that I was going to get some golf in. Days after he went to basic and learned his graduation dates, I put in my vacation request for work. At the time, I didn't know what a great time playing a top course could be.

I decided to fly in a week early, taking the red eye on Sunday night from Seattle to Savannah (via Atlanta), and then rented a car to get to Hilton Head. I wanted to arrive early enough in the day that I could get one round in before it was dark. With little sleep, I drove directly from Savannah to Old South Golf Links, where I had 20 minutes on the range.  The course was nice, though there were alligators spread about, but it still served as a good warm up round for the week. I also played Eagle's Point, Heron Point, and Hilton Head National while in Hilton Head. Each course, except Eagle's Point, had it's memorable holes.

Let's move on to Harbour Town. I arrived at Sea Pines Resort at 1 pm on a Tuesday for my tee time.

The sign at the entrance into Sea Pines Resort.

And the sign greeting you at the club house.

I was scheduled to play with three other golfers and was looking forward to chatting it up with others who might be playing their first top 100 course. It was an overcast day, and upon a noon arrival, was back and forth between drizzle and sprinkling. I hit a bucket of balls on the range with a group of high school aged kids from England. They hit the ball further than I did by a good 20 yards. Sometimes, youth does win over age.

As I finish up my bucket and move to my cart (they wouldn't let me walk), the starter comes over and advises the other three had canceled their tee time, and I was going to get to go out by myself. He advised I would be starting on #10, and the nearest group was on hole 15 in front of me and hole 6 behind me. It was going to feel as if I had the course to myself!  What this also meant is I would have time to take more photos than I normally would be able to take on a golf course.

The carts at Harbour Town with the iconic lighthouse logo.

It was also the first time I had paid more than $150 for a round of golf. I was going to get my money's worth out of it so played two balls, a yellow and a white. I kept two score cards and enjoyed what amounted to two rounds for the price of one! You also know it is a special course when their is a painting of the course that covers the three panels of the back of the scorecard.

I had been warned when I made my tee time that the course was being overseeded.  I expected to find tall grass in the fairways and overgrown rough. Instead, what I experienced was immaculate fairways and greens, with sand present on the tee boxes.  Let me share a ton of photos I took while on the course.

#11 tee box looking down the fairway.  I found that most of the tee boxes were sanded over but the fairways and greens were terrific.

#11 Green - I love the trees and Spanish moss that are found in the southeast U.S. This tree sitting next to the 11th green just made my second hole of the day a great intro to Harbour Town.

Another example of the sandy tee boxes at #12.

#12 green being watched over by another gorgeous tree.

#13 green surrounded by sand. I love the use of railroad ties and boards to support the framework around the sand traps here at Harbour Town.

At Harbour Town, it seems like if there isn't sand, there is water to give the average golfer a tough time. This is #14 green.

This is one of my favorite shots of the day.  I found most of the fairways fairly narrow, requiring a decent, straight shot. On #16, I was behind some trees, had to put the shot out to the right of the green, and this is where it landed. You can see the flag just to the right of the left front tree.  By the way, there was no water on this hole. Yep, you guessed it -Sand.  That front left tree is in a sand trap.  Talk about a tough shot. Not only did I have to put it over the tree because a punch shot under was out of the question, but it was to the narrowest part of the green as well (and I learned quickly that the greens and farrows are much narrower than I am used to on a lot of courses I have played).  I did flop it over the tree, landed it on the green, but it was just to tight and rolled off.

#17 is listed in The World's 500 Greatest Golf Holes.
When I got back to my hotel, I saw this photo was angled. I promise I wasn't drunk. I think I was so excited knowing I was coming up to the famous #18 that I wasn't paying great attention to this photo. This is #17 and you can perhaps make out the Calibogue Sound behind the green.

#18 from the tee box

The 18th hole is rated among the best 100 golf holes anywhere on the planet by The 500 World's Greatest Golf Holes. The 18th is also listed under several other chapters of the book. It received the following accolades:
  1. Rated as one of the 18 most scenic holes in the world. 
  2. Rated as one of the longest par 4s at 478 yards.
  3. Rated as one of the best holes you can play.
As advised by the book, "At 478 yards, the eighteenth is long enough to tempt a strong player to play straightaway and ignore the longer, safer route offered to the right. The tee, landing area, and the green are all built on promontories that, when used, demand that the marsh be carried by both the drive and the approach to the green."  I respected the hole and choose the safer route to the right.

#18 from the sand trap next to the green.

#3 Green, again surrounded by those beautiful trees.

#4 Green protected by water.

#8 protected by sand and water. It sprinkled at #7 and #8 but that was the only "bad" weather we had. Thanks for canceling "other three golfer guys."

From just off the side of #9 tee box.

Approach shot from #9 fairway.

After I finished my "two" rounds of golf, I headed inside the pro shop and restaurant. I, of course, purchased a logo ball. I also saw a neat headcover.

The lobby in the entrance of the clubhouse let's one feel the history of the course as well. The course is host to the PGA Heritage Classic each April. In the lobby are several iconic pieces from that tournament.

The jacket and trophy for the winner of the Heritage Classic on display.

But what I found myself studying for almost an hour was all the early clubs they have on display in the restaurant. Each club has a number under it that corresponds to a name on the plaque so you know whose club it was and what year it is from.

Overall, the experience was well worth the money and I would highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves with an extra day in Hilton Head.

Harbour Town is ranked #81 in the world 2013, down from it's #78 ranking in 2011.
It is ranked #42 in the U.S., up from its #45 ranking in 2011.

Oh, and so a dad can brag on his son, here is the real reason I was even in Hilton Head, SC: