• Ian Guerin

Harbour Town forecaddie breaks down his top 3 holes

For those who weren’t lucky enough to get their hands on tickets for the 2022 RBC Heritage presented by Boeing, being relegated to the tube or streaming isn't so bad.

The announcers are sure to say plenty about certain aspects of Harbour Town Golf Links — like the recently added distance on the par-5 2nd and 5th holes. When it comes to breaking down the course, though, we went straight to one of the boots on the ground.

Harbour Town forecaddie Boyd Downey previously served as a head golf professional before briefly leaving the game. His return put him front and center with the beauty that Pete and Alice Dye’s design here has to offer on a daily basis.

Recently, we asked Downey about his favorite holes. These are the ones that stand out most to him. NO. 9, PAR 4, 332 YARDS

Even by normal standards, few players are going to think of this as a long hole (traditional players are going off at just 298 yards). Either way, it’s all about placement off the tee. Any shot that fades down the left is then blocked by a patch of trees between the fairway and green — and the oversized bunker protecting it.

The heart-shaped green will be banked by stands full of fans — oh, and three backside bunkers that occasionally draw some unwanted attention.

“It’s a great little short hole,” Boyd said. “It depends where they stick the pin. If it’s back left, it’s probably the easiest to me. But you have to favor one side of the other to get that angle. If the pin’s on the right and you’re right-center, your shot is going to be pretty, pretty tough. You’re going to have to play a short iron or play left. You have those bunkers that come into it quite often.” NO. 13, PAR 4, 373 YARDS

Anyone who has played Harbour Town is going to remember the Alice Dye-inspired bunker that seems to envelope the green. It’s complete with those telltale railroad ties that frequently leave players ducking for cover from one of their own attempted sand outs. To avoid all that, like No. 9, it’s necessary to keep your first shot up the right side if possible. If not, the large oaks in front of the bunker become even more menacing.

Easy, right?

All you have to do from there is ensure your ball lands on the proper portion of the green. “It’s my favorite hole out here. It’s not long, but you have to be very accurate,” Boyd said. “It’s a tough green structure, so even if you have a short iron into it, when the pin’s like that - up front - it’s only 20 or 25 feet wide. If you just miss by a yard, you could make double or triple real easy because you snuck up against the railroad ties. If the pin is back left, you could have a 30- or 40-footer. If you go for it, and don’t get it, that’s where the short holes can put up big numbers real fast. You don’t have to miss that much.”

NO. 18, PAR 4, 472 YARDS

If there is a focal point of Harbour Town, this is it.

The famed lighthouse serving as the backdrop, one of the course’s two long par-4s brings not only distance but precision into the equation. From the tee box, players must carry the natural grass areas off Calibogue Sound and stay right (the Dyes were consistent in that regard) in order to even flirt with a chance at reaching the green in two. The pros will find plenty of room to miss right on that shot, too, but that’s not what they’re going for.

In Boyd’s words, the finisher was, well, perfect.

“The entire hole is phenomenal,” Boyd said. “It’s a great test of golf. Even on the short [tees], it’s pretty long. You have the predominant winds into it. Even on your second shot, you’re going to have a long shot into a super small green. There’s the marsh and water on the left and that hump on the right that kind of protects it, too. It’s perfect. There’s nothing wrong with it.”

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