When chatting with PGA TOUR players before Wednesday's pro-am about the numerous attributes of The Sea Pines Resort (www.seapines.com) and its iconic Harbour Town Golf Links -- site of this week's RBC Heritage -- it's quite evident they love the total experience here on Hilton Head Island.
Matt Kuchar said it best when asked why players see this venue as one of their favorite stops on TOUR. "Everyone seems to stay within the confines of Sea Pines. I don't know of any other place (on TOUR) where people don't leave the general resort area."
Kuchar added, "And I think here it's such a fun family place." He also commented on the accessibility of after golf activities. "And if you want to have some evening fun, the marina and the harbor is just such a great social area -- it's unique to have everything so close."
The players also rave about Harbour Town -- recently named the No. 2 favorite on TOUR in a Golf World poll. Remarks defending champion Brandt Snedeker, "I said it was one of my favorite courses before winning here last year, and obviously after winning it is. It's cool to go on a golf course that's really old school."
Palmetto state resident Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey is also a huge fan of the Pete Dye masterpiece, "I love it. Many people might say Augusta is best, but to me this is No. 1. The atmosphere is fantastic."
Another fun aspect of Wednesdays on TOUR is the pro-am where amateurs get to rub elbows with the best in the game. While putting on the practice green under the brilliantly blue Lowcountry sky before his morning tee-time with Rory Sabbatini, Rich Mione of Wilmington, N.C. said, "I'm a bit nervous, but with my 18-handicap I hope I can help my group. It's going to be a fun day."
Lew Dickey from Atlanta -- a five-handicapper hitting crisp practice chips -- said, "I'm nervous because it's not what we do for a living. When I heard at the pairing party last night that Harbour Town was No. 2 among TOUR players, it made me even more excited to play the course."
Even the maestro himself, Pete Dye, playing in the pro-am with Zach Johnson and TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem was excited about teeing it up on his famous 18. "It's fun to see one of my courses in such great shape."
Actually the whole endeavor is in great shape as Sea Pines is indeed a world unto itself. Once you enter the gates of the vast property, the hustle and bustle of the outside world fades away. The area is chockablock with grinning families riding bicycles along the miles of bike paths canopied with lush oaks ornamented with Spanish moss. The enchanted 605-acre Forest Preserve is also family-friendly, ideal for horseback riding or wandering the many trails teeming with wildflowers, wetlands and more than 130 species of birds.
Sea Pines provides dining options for all tastes and occasions. Whether you are looking for a hearty breakfast under the oaks, lunch at the beach, drinks at the marina or a sunset dinner on the harbor, it's all within easy reach.
Want to golf? Visitors can watch the pros play in the morning and then go play themselves at another Pete Dye gem at Sea Pines -- Heron Point -- or the acclaimed Ocean Course. Heron Point was recently named No. 10 in Golfweek's 2012 list of "Best Courses You Can Play" in South Carolina. Last year, it was named one of America's "Top 50 Courses for Women" by Golf Digest.
Again Kuchar sums it up perfectly, "You never really need to leave Sea Pines."