Sea Pines Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines ResortComing off a year that saw the PGA TOUR dominated by 40-something Vijay Singh, maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the National Golf Course Owners Association passed over the young, flashy new resorts in this “next big thing” world and named the trdition-rich Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort as the recipient of the 2005 Jemsek Award.

That honor goes to only ONE course per year for its superior quality, excellence in hosting major amateur and professional tournaments and for being a popular golf destination for travelers.

This puts Harbour Town Golf Links and The Sea Pines Resort in the select company of Pebble Beach, the Ocean Course at Kiawah, Cog Hill, Pine Needles and Whistling Straits among recent Jemsek Award winners. And the list is even shorter when you group those winners that have also played host for more than 35 years to the Singhs and Loves and Normans of the world at the famed MCI Heritage, the annual post-Masters tournament that not only showcases the area’s natural beauty, but the laid-back Lowcountry lifestyle that makes the Hilton Head Tour stop one of the most player-and fan-friendly. Each year after the crucible of Augusta, Tour golfers and their families usually can’t wait to shift gears and relax in the South Carolina sun, while still competing for the MCI Heritage’s spiffy tartan jacket and increased first prize of $936,000 from a record purse of $5.2 million.

The Sea Pines Resort Hilton Head IslandWhat makes the MCI Heritage such a favorite among the PGA TOUR pros is the same combination that has made The Sea Pines Resort so popular among the millions of visitors to Hilton Head Island each year; great golf at Harbour Town Golf Links (and two other unique layouts in the plantation), sun-kissed beaches, breathtaking views of the Atlantic and across gorgeous tidal marshes, world-class amenities, more than 50 lakes and lagoons and miles of bike trails winding through sprawling oaks and ancient magnolias. Add in the friendly faces of the locals and the likelihood of meeting someone else from your neck of the woods, and you have an atmosphere unlike any other, just ask the country’s other golf course owners who bestowed their singular Jemsek Award on The Sea Pines Resort for 2005.

This time of year, talk of The Sea Pines Resort begins with the Pete Dye-designed Harbour Town Golf Links. Talk about playing where the pros play, Harbour Town is one of the PGA TOUR’s few venues that is open for public play up to, and even the day after, the MCI Heritage.

Though one of the Tour’s shortest courses at just under 7,000 yards, no golfer has come within shouting distance of Loren Roberts’ tournament-record 19-under par since 1996. That may well be because of the smallest greens and most demanding set of par-3’s on the Tour. Better yet, the three finishing holes are among the most unforgettable anywhere, capped by the famed 18th, which requires not one, but two (and sometimes more) shots over picturesque Calibogue Sound to the landmark candy-striped lighthouse behind the final green.

Harbour Town Golf LinksWith the tightest fairways the pros see this side of the U.S. Open, Harbour Town Golf Links is a great test of shot-making and patience. It has produced an exclusive group of champions from first-year winner Arnold Palmer to fellow Hall of Famers Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Nick Price and Greg Norman. And the group of multiple Heritage winners includes Hall of Famers Hale Irwin, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller and Payne Stewart and possible future enshrinees Fuzzy Zoeller, Hubert Green, Stewart Cink, and five-time Heritage king Davis Love III. Yet four sets of tees make the test just as fun, just as daunting, for players of all skill levels. The adrenaline rush you’ll feel marching up 18 toward the lighthouse may exceed that of the cannon-fire that signals the beginning of Heritage weekend and the roar of the gallery for this year’s winner.

The aptly-named Ocean Course even has something The Harbour Town Golf Links doesn’t. The unique and sweeping view of the Atlantic at the signature 15th hole as you emerge from the towering pines and moss-draped oaks will bring you back for more. The Ocean Course celebrates 10 years since its Mark McCumber redesign interwined bunkers and lagoons into a truly complementary layout to The Harbour Town Golf Links and The Sea Pines Resort’s third golf jewel, the George Cobb-designed Sea Marsh Course. Though comparatively short at just 6,500 yards from the tips, beware the prevailing breezes of the Sea Marsh Course that challenge your shot-making between the pines, palmettos and live oaks that guard well-bunkered greens.

Sea Pines Ocean CourseThere’s even more to golf at The Sea Pines Resort than 54-championship holes. The award-winning instructional programs at the Golf Academy offer single or multiple-day schools to improve your game. Stay-and-play packages at The Sea Pines Resort are designed to give you the time to “study” on the practice facility and be course “tested”, all within the relaxed atmosphere of accommodations ranging from ocean-side villa retreats to the AAA Four-diamond Inn at Harbour Town.

The luxurious Inn is a 2005 Conde Nast Traveler Gold List winner offering personal butler service, complimentary valet service, a lobby lounge, 24-hour room service and even a library. The Inn is just a short stroll from the fashionable cafes, galleries and shops that wrap around the spectacular Harbour Town Yacht Basin and 6,500-square-foot Conference Center. Visitors can watch million-dollar pleasure crafts come and go while visiting the boutiques and many exceptional restaurants and bistros at the hub of the resort, or the quaint South Beach Marina.

Besides the sun, sand and surf of the Atlantic, The Sea Pines Resort offers the outdoor enthusiasts in your family a wide array of activities from trail rides on horseback to freshwater fishing in more than 50 lagoons, two public-access swimming pools, more than 15 miles of bike trails through the plantation’s nature preserves and award-winning programs for children under 12. The tennis-lover in your family might see The Sea Pines Resort as a world-class tennis facility when they set foot on one of the 23 clay courts helmed by former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Stan Smith.

South Beach MarinaIt is so easy to fall in love with the lifestyle of The Sea Pines Resort that hundreds of families have made a full-time retreat, giving the resort a community-like flavor. That combination of year-round residents and visitors welcomed with true Southern hospitality sets The Sea Pines Resort apart from nearly any golf community anywhere.

So whether you decide to stick your toe (or golf shoe) in the water with one of their new competitively-priced vacation getaway packages, or dive right in as a resident homeowner, the award-winning Sea Pines Resort has the Lowcountry lifestyle choice that will make you understand and appreciate why the PGA TOUR pros and their families flock here each and every spring.

You can learn more about The Sea Pines Resort story by calling 1-800-SeaPines or visiting online at www.seapines.com.

 

 

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