No. 18 at Harbour Town offers some of the best views of any hole on the PGA TOUR. (Martin/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
One of the PGA TOUR’s most iconic finishing backdrops came about largely through fortunate happenstance.
Oh, Harbour Town’s candy-striped lighthouse still would stand sentry over Calibogue Sound. But the original routing called for the 17th hole to pass by the lighthouse, with No. 18 headed back toward the clubhouse.
But that was before Harbour Town’s yacht basin was constructed. With nowhere to put the sediment gathered in the dredging process, the company responsible for the operation simply dumped it along the edge of the proposed golf course.
Before long, designer Pete Dye had enough land to not only build the par-3 17th, but reroute No. 18 to a finish framed by the lighthouse and marina.
“There’s no doubt the 18th is the signature for the resort and the island and the state,” said Cary Corbitt, director of sports and operations for Sea Pines Resort.
The hole, measuring 472 yards, isn’t just a pretty face. No. 18 frequently ranks behind only the par-3 14th as the toughest hole on the layout. Last year produced an easier test, with friendly breezes contributing to just 12 scores worse than bogey for the week.
More often, golfers will have to deal with shifting winds over the course of four days. Ernie Els tells the story of one year in which he played the 18th with a driver and 3-wood into the wind. A day later, he used the 3-wood off the tee and an 8-iron for his approach.
With marshland already to the left, a large bunker tends to nudge players even farther right with their drives. It also offers a better angle to the green, though the approach shot also will flirt with the marshland.
No. 18 has been a site of great drama, coming in a variety of forms.
Davis Love III captured the last of his five Heritage titles when he chipped in from right of the green in 2003. Five years later, Boo Weekley chipped in from the left. Greg Norman holed out from a back bunker on the way to his 1988 victory.
Two years ago, Brandt Snedeker drained a 12-foot birdie to force a playoff with Luke Donald. On their second playoff pass through No. 18, Donald’s chip hit the hole and skittered away, allowing Snedeker to win with a par.
One year earlier, the Heritage had likely its most bizarre finish when Brian Davis penalized himself into a playoff loss against Jim Furyk. The English pro ever-so-slightly nipped a loose reed on his backswing while trying a recovery from a marshy area.