136. Harbour Town Golf Links
Pete Dye & Jack Nicklaus (1969) / Pete Dye (2011)
In the late 1960s, Jack Nicklaus landed the design contract for Harbour Town, then turned it over to his new partner, Pete Dye, who was determined to distinguish his work from that of rival Robert Trent Jones. Soon after Harbour Town opened in late November 1969 (with a victory by Arnold Palmer in the Heritage Classic), the course debuted on America’s 100 Greatest as one of the Top 10. It was a total departure for golf at the time. No mounds, no elevated tees, no elevated greens—just low-profile and abrupt change. Tiny greens hung atop railroad ties directly over water hazards. Trees blocked direct shots. Harbour Town gave Pete Dye national attention and put Jack Nicklaus, who made more than 100 inspection trips in collaborating with Dye, in the design business. Pete’s wife, Alice, also contributed, instructing workers on the size and shape of the unique 13th green, a sinister one edged by cypress planks.
100 Greatest History: Ranked on America’s 100 Greatest 1971 through 2014. Ranked on America’s Second 100 Greatest: 2015 through current. Highest ranking: “First Ten” (1971-1972); No. 29, 1985-1986. Previous ranking: 127th.
Panelist comments, Harbour Town Golf Links:
“To me, the ability to navigate a course like Harbour Town is the definition of shotmaking in a lowcountry, throwback setting. The greens are small and in most cases relatively flat so when the tee shot is finely executed and greens are hit, there is a great opportunity for the better player to score.”
“Mr. Dye and Jack did a great job using a relatively uninteresting piece of land (with the exception of 16-17-18) to design a thoughtful course that requires extreme attention off of the tee.”
“Narrow fairways and small greens make for a high rating for resistance to scoring. The course has a distinctive look with the use of railroad ties, the tall pines that shape each hole and also shape the green complexes, and of course, the Pete Dye pot bunkers.”
“The purity and condition of the new greens only amplifies the experience. Some of the smoothest Bermuda greens I have ever played on.”
“Not only must the golfer navigate narrow fairway corridors and out of bounds, but on many holes there is a advantage shaping the ball off of the tee. In many instances whether it be in the fairway or near the green, trees can play as hazards often influencing a 1/2 shot penalty depending on where you are.”