Harbor golf course at Wild Dunes Resort near Charleston packs a lot of variety into a small space
ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. -- Tom Fazio's second design at Wild Dunes Resort, the Harbor Course, is a meandering affair that requires a bit of cart time to navigate it all. But the destination of the Intracoastal Waterway makes the trip worthwhile.
Golfers travel more than three miles to traverse the 6,300-yard, par-70 golf course, which opened in 1988. But along the way, they'll pass a boat harbor and some nice houses. The golf course is shortened by its plethora of par 3s, six in all. There is a lot of water on the course and it's tight. Hit it straight above all else.
Chris Orphey, manager of Wild Dunes Resort's Harbor Course, warns of the starting holes, Nos. 1 and 2, which have water along their left sides.
"They're marshland monsters," Orphey said.
Both greens are offset with a wall of bunkers guarding shots that stray too far right. The greens are thin and long. Fazio skipped the chapter where designers of that era favored large greens. He went with small, target greens.
Fazio made marsh the biggest bugaboo on the golf course, putting it between the tee and fairway or along the length of several holes. The Harbor Course, however, has more variety than that. Whereas holes six and eight are marsh meccas, nine through 11 are sided by the Intracoastal Waterway, and hefty waste bunkers lie in wait on at least four holes. The coolest holes are Nos. 16 and 17 in which you have to launch your shot over the Intracoastal Waterway. Check for boat traffic first. Also, the water's proximity to the green on No. 16 varies with the tide.
You won't forget this golf course. Looking back, it's amazing there was so much variety in a relatively small package.
Take, for example, the par 3s. They range in length from 137 to 168 yards from the whites. Challenges include hitting over or avoiding at some point sand, water and marsh or navigating the appearance of overhanging trees.
Ed Ott, a Wild Dunes member, says the Harbor Course is the tougher course compared with the Links Course, despite the Harbor Course's lower rating.
"It's a lot more of a challenge because it's tight," Ott said. "It's very scenic. I don't hit it long, but you've got to hit it in the middle."
A 23-handicap, he said the course is a lot of fun.
"Several golfers who have played a lot of courses in the Lowcountry say it has some of the hardest par 4s anywhere, including Kiawah," Ott said. He also warned that wind will always be a factor on the par-3 11th, right on the Intracoastal.
John Changler agreed with Ott that Wild Dunes Resort's Harbor Course is a target course.
"You have to hit it where you intend to," Changler said. "The Links is more of a resort course."
Perhaps to give the shorter course a little more bite, Fazio didn't line many of fairways with bounce-'em-back-in mounds, but waste bunkers and marsh instead.
Wild Dunes Resort's Harbor Course: The verdict
Do yourself a favor and give the Harbor Course at Wild Dunes Resort its due. It's a challenging, scenic and varied course that will test all aspects of your game. And drink in the view on No. 17, a broad view of miles of coastal marsh and the Intracoastal Waterway. You won't forget that view. You won't forget this course.
September 1, 2010