From all perspectives, the RBC Heritage at The Sea Pines Resort (www.seapines.com) this week has turned out wonderfully.
With temperatures hovering in the low-to-mid-70s, sweet ocean breezes wafting off the Calibogue Sound and the bluest of skies overhead, the word "ideal" comes to mind. Spring on Hilton Head Island is about as good as it gets.
"The weather couldn't have been better," says Cary Corbitt, director of sports division of The Sea Pines Resort. "Plus, not only were player compliments on the course very good, but Pete Dye himself was ecstatic about the conditioning."
When at Sea Pines, it's not hard to see why TOUR players gush over the resort. Accommodations include The Inn at Harbour Town -- an award-winning 60-room boutique hotel -- as well as 300 villas and 100 rental homes so there are ample options for players and their families to stay within the confines of the resort. And that's exactly what they do.
As Matt Kuchar, who brings his family along with him every year, said earlier this week, "You never really need to leave Sea Pines."
Australian TOUR stalwart Robert Allenby even brings his boat up from Florida and docks in lively Harbour Town -- which has numerous locales to dine or have a cold one outside. It's one of few TOUR stops where players and fans mingle "after hours" throughout the week. Several stages are set up for live music and dancing. It's a frolicking scene of Lowcounty fun -- kind of like spring break for golf lovers.
Then there's the tournament and classic Harbour Town Golf Links -- which the players love despite its challenge as most of the holes are cut through ball-gobbling swaths of stately oak trees. Amicable Englishman Gary Christian -- a TOUR rookie -- laughed while warming up for his round and said, "It's like trying to hit your ball down the corridor of a Holiday Inn."
Plus Mr. Dye has numerous water hazards framed by his signature railroad ties quietly awaiting shots not struck with full authority. Rather than "grip it and rip it," Harbour Town requires cunning and the touch of a cat burglar. Whoever dons the Tartan plaid jacket awarded to the victor on Sunday afternoon will have earned it.
Sea Pines also has the distinction of not one, but two outstanding Pete Dye designs. Opened in 2007, Heron Point is resplendent with knotted hardwoods, lagoons and salt marshes teeming with wildlife. Like Harbour Town, Mother Nature provided an ideal palette for Dye's legendary design prowess and unlimited imagination.
At 7,000 yards from the back tees Heron Point is a mathematician's fusion of short and long holes. It can play considerably shorter if needed via six sets of tees on each hole, but length has little to do with the layout's overall strategic repertoire. Golfers will be challenged by a cadre of risk-reward holes, fairways that move toward and away from hazards, and Dye's ubiquitous mounding and swales framing target areas. Playing a Dye course demands a plan of attack -- his creations almost smack of outdoor chess.
It's grand fun to try and match wits with the diabolical master of course design. Sure you'll want to play where the TOUR stops annually, but glorious Harbour Town Golf Links has a costar demanding your attention as well. Heron Point makes for an unforgettable golf experience, but what else would one expect from the design genius of Pete Dye?
For Sea Pines golf information visit http://www.seapines.com.