The Ocean Course at Sea Pines opened in 1962, making it Hilton Head’s first golf course. The task for golf course designer Davis Love III, who is certainly familiar with Sea Pines having won the RBC Heritage Championship at Harbour Town five times, was to reimagine the dated layout and make it relevant once again in a crowded island golf scene.
“The people that have played the Ocean in the past are going to feel it’s just wide open and free,” said Love during construction. “I think it’s going to be a lot friendlier than it was before, the greens are a lot more interesting, and it’s going to look more like an ocean-style course”
Atlantic Dunes withstood its first test from Mother Nature in flying colors, reopening less than a month after Hurricane Matthew. In fact, tree work performed during the rebuild, done in part to create a ‘bigger ballpark’ feel for golfers compared to the more tactical Harbour Town, lessened the storm’s impact. Only 11 trees were lost to compared to Harbour Town’s nearly 500.
The biggest differences catch the eye almost immediately; a more gentle rolling shape to the grounds. Tee boxes aren’t rigid and defined but instead flow from one to the other and onto the fairway. Greens are much larger-double the size of Pete Dye’s Heron Point and Harbour Town in many cases, which allows for more hole locations.
Few courses in the Southeast have the fantastic finish along the Calibogue Sound as Harbour Town, home to the RBC Heritage Classic. Atlantic Dunes’ finish has a cool closing stretch of its own. The par 3 15th hole plays uphill to an infinity green that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, the most demanding of any par 3 at Sea Pines. With no trees framing the backdrop, the view is spectacular and the ocean winds impact the tee shot.
The 16th tee is a sharp dogleg right played steps from the beach and surrounded with exposed sand, palms and the ocean breeze. Upon turning the corner in the fairway, you have a straightaway view all the way to the 18th green. After zigzagging through shadowy corridors most of the holes, you have a long green mile home with a bearish par 4, 18th finish.
Last year the Plantation Clubhouse which services Atlantic Dunes and Heron Point courses was totally redone, and you should really take the opportunity to enjoy the fine fare and tasty beverages on the menu.
Sea Pines has been remodeling and upgrading all of its facilities these past few years, and the completion of Atlantic Dunes is the culmination of the overhaul.
For more information visit www.SeaPines.com.