Pair of Sea Pines Courses Enjoy National Prominence

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Golf Digest and Golf Magazine Recognize Harbour Town and Heron Point by Pete Dye as among the country's finest public-access courses.

It was a pleasant though not an unexpected surprise when Harbour Town Golf Links, the keystone golf course at The Sea Pines Resort and home of the popular PGA Tour event, Verizon Heritage, moved up from No. 15 to No. 14 in the national rankings of Golf Magazine's "Top 100 Best Courses You Can Play," published in the magazine's September 2008 issue.

What may have surprised a few people, however, was the appearance of the newest golf course at The Sea Pines Resort, Heron Point by Pete Dye, which debuted in the state-by-state rankings as the 15th finest public-access course in South Carolina. Unveiled by The Sea Pines Resort in September 2007 on the site of the resort's former Sea Marsh golf course, Heron Point was the only course in the state less than one-year old to make Golf Magazine's Top 15.

According to Golf Magazine Architectural Editor, Joseph Mark Passov: "It really says something about the quality (of Heron Point by Pete Dye) that in one short year, enough industry insiders and course ranking panelists recognize the merits of Heron Point to place it in such a lofty position."

In addition, The Sea Pines Resort also received notification from Golf Digest magazine that Heron Point by Pete Dye would be included on the magazine's 2008 "Best Places to Play" list, and would receive the magazine's coveted "Four-Star Rating."

"This year's 'Best Places to Play' rates nearly 6,000 courses in North America and the Islands," said Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde in a letter to The Sea Pines Resort announcing the honor. "The courses were evaluated by approximately 20,000 Golf Digest readers on a five-point scale."

As the industry's two most widely distributed publications, Golf Magazine and Golf Digest have a combined readership of more than 3 million.

No new golf course in South Carolina opened last year with the national splash enjoyed by Heron Point by Pete Dye, which was recognized by Golf Magazine ("What's New This Month - Heron Point"), Golfweek ("Ribbon Cuttings - Heron Point"), Travel + Leisure Golf ("New Dye Dawns") and Links Magazine ("Pete Dye returns to Sea Pines to make over Heron Point into a worthy complement to his breakthrough Harbour Town"), along with USA Today ("Join Pete Dye in a Return to Harbour Town"), and locally by the Island Packet ("Golfers Soar at New Heron Point Golf Course"), Golfer's Guide ("Pete Dye Returns to The Sea Pines Resort to Create His Newest Masterpiece") and Hilton Head Monthly.

In addition, four months after Heron Point's grand opening, The South Carolina Golf Course Ratings Panel announced that it would be awarding Heron Point by Pete Dye one of the highest ratings ever for a new golf course. Heron Point (a "highly impressive newcomer," according to the panelists) broke into the state rankings at No. 25, making it the highest rated, new public-access golf course in the Top 50; and Heron Point is the fourth highest rated public-access course overall in the state, ranking behind only Harbour Town, Kiawah Island's Ocean Course and May River Club at Palmetto Bluff.

Those who have played Heron Point site the small, well-guarded greens, the strategic routing, elevation changes in the fairways, different grasses giving beautiful color changes, and six different sets of tees -- ranging from a family-friendly 3,743 yards to a championship caliber 7,103 yards -- as the most compelling features of the challenging, new design.

"In a crowded marketplace where you have all kinds of competition around Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston, Heron Point's entry in the state rankings says something for both The Sea Pines Resort and for Pete Dye," Passov said.

A Hall of Fame architect, Dye is arguably the most recognized and highly regarded golf course designer. And The Sea Pines Resort is the world's only resort where guests can experience the full spectrum of his history in the game. The coupling of Harbour Town, originally built in 1967 and restored by Dye in 2000, and Heron Point, Dye's complete reconstruction of the former Sea Marsh golf course, provides golfers with the chance to experience 40 years of Pete Dye -- an opportunity that exists nowhere else but The Sea Pines Resort.

"Clearly Harbour Town has always been a personal favorite," said Golf Magazine's Passov. "It's wonderful and refreshing to see that even as tastes have changed and hundreds of new, wonderful golf courses have been added since Harbour Town was built, Harbour Town maintains its status as one of the greatest courses in the country, public or private. People still recognize it for its merits, even after years of changing tastes."

Cary Corbitt, director of sports for The Sea Pines Resort, said: "We couldn't be happier with this kind of recognition, especially coming from one of the premier golf magazines in the world. Golf Magazine rankings have always been significant, not just among insiders and travel aficionados but with the general golfing public. They take the selection process seriously, and the readers know that a Golf Magazine ranking means something special."

For a half-century, The Sea Pines Resort has set the standard as one of the most family friendly resorts on the East Coast, with shopping, dining, family entertainment, bike trails, beautiful beaches, marinas, equestrian, world-class accommodations, incredible tennis facilities, and three spectacular golf courses.

The resort is also home to The Golf Academy of Hilton Head and the famed Verizon Heritage, one of the longest running PGA Tour events to be played on a single golf course, with such noted past champions as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Johnny Miller, Nick Price, Hale Irwin, Payne Stewart, Davis Love III and Boo Weekley.

Now The Sea Pines Resort is home to two of the highest-ranked, public-access golf courses in the state.

"More than anything, we're proud to have great golf courses that the public can play," Corbitt said. "Too many great courses are private and inaccessible. Our goal at Sea Pines Resort has always been to provide the quality and service you find at the best private clubs in a resort setting."

Passov echoed the importance of accessibility. "These rankings are important because the majority of Golf Magazine readers, the majority of golfers out there, don't have access to private clubs, especially top-ranked private clubs that populate other lists. Our list is for everyone. There are no barriers."

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Brad King
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