Scottie Scheffler, Clark, Homa Like Challenge of Harbour Town Golf Links

Even though Scottie Scheffler isn’t in the lead after two rounds at the RBC Heritage, as any professional golfer will tell you, that doesn’t mean anything. This week, there's another adversary in addition to the World No. 1, and it's the golf course: Harbour Town Golf Links.
Scottie Scheffler - RBC Heritage
Scottie Scheffler - RBC Heritage / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

Proven winners like Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Wyndham Clark, Xander Schauffele, and others have the kind of firepower to overcome scoring deficits, like the five-shot lead Collin Morikawa, Tom Hoge, Sepp Straka, and J.T. Poston have on the field.

However, what may happen is that Harbour Town decides who wins and who doesn’t.

Some great players, like Tiger Woods, didn’t play the tournament at Harbour Town as a regular Tour event. Presumably, it didn’t suit his long game. But not everyone thinks that way about the course, which could certainly be considered claustrophobic compared to Augusta National. However, it deserves some respect since it was created by Pete Dye with an assist from Jack Nicklaus. And some players love it.

“It's a great golf course. I think it's a lot of fun to play. I think it's very interesting,” Scheffler said before the tournament began. “You've got to curve the ball both directions, and you have to control your distance. You have to control where the golf ball is going. It's not just a place where you can go bomb it.”

Well, you could, but more than likely just hitting it as far as you can is going to lead to some up close and personal experiences with loblolly pines, large live oaks, and the occasional palmetto. They are immovable objects, integral parts of the golf course. And they are trouble. While there isn’t a lot of water on the course, what is there is usually inhabited by alligators, ready to chomp anything that sits still for too long.

Scheffler said Harbour Town shows that there is more than one way to play a golf course. 

“There's some holes where distance can be an advantage, and there's plenty of holes where you've got to place the ball and move it around the trees,” he said. “I'm a big fan of trees on golf courses, so getting to play a place like this where there's a lot of trees is nice, especially when you're not hitting it in the trees.”

Yes, that was “Scottie humor” coming through.

Wyndham Clark, the current U.S. Open champ agrees with Scheffler about the course. 

“I think everyone loves this event, and it's really refreshing for everyone because typically on Tour and in major championship golf it's about a lot of distance and hitting it far, and you have a lot of long irons in, and then you come to Harbour Town, and it's all about placement and accuracy,” he explained. “It's kind of classic golf.”

Max Homa is also on the Harbour Town bandwagon.

“I love this golf course,” he said. “The golf course is so unique. It's a lot like Colonial in that we play a lot of big and far and hit it as high as you can, and here you're really working it, and it's maddening.”

But Scheffler had another reason for liking the course, and that has to do with the ongoing distance debate in golf.

“I think for some people, distance debate type people, if they're ever looking at golf course design and how to combat people only trying to hit the ball really far, they need to come here and do a case study on this golf course because it's really, really good,” Scheffler said.

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So, in the final two rounds, watch how often the corridors of pine trees seem to bend just a little too soon out in the landing areas. Or how often golfers have to hoist a shot over a giant tree.  

That's Harbour Town Golf Links flexing its less-than-bulky muscles, driving golfers crazy, just as it has since 1969.