Heads up, Harbour Town -- Davis Love III's new Atlantic Dunes is looking to reign supreme at Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head.
Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III
Hilton Head Island, S.C.
7,010 yards, par 72
Architect: Love Golf Design, 2016 Seapines.com
Hilton Head Island's oldest course is now its newest, thanks to a superb makeover by Love Golf Design. The old Ocean course, a 1962 George Cobb creation, kickstarted the Lowcountry golf boom. Now, Davis Love III and his design team have modernized it, transforming it into Atlantic Dunes. The finished product is a big success—some sweaty palms notwithstanding. "You think it's a lot of pressure playing Harbour Town and playing in your favorite tournament," says Love, a five-time winner of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage at Harbour Town. "But there's more pressure to fix one of their courses."
Love, his brother Mark and lead architect Scot Sherman have turned a venerable (if never truly revered) layout into a standout track among the Sea Pines Resort courses. It's now a worthy complement to Harbour Town and to Heron Point, both by Pete Dye. Though Love was hamstrung by the existing fairway corridors between the upscale homes, he found ways to open up the course. He shifted mowing lines, yanked out trees, and made lagoons less intrusive for higher-handicaps. The result? A more spacious, user-friendly course where you're less likely to hit into water (or someone's backyard hammock.) Love also dialed up the coastal ambience, with new and restored sand dunes, holes framed by crushed coquina shells, and new seaside grasses to accent the pines and oaks. Other highlights include extreme makeovers on Nos. 10, 11, 17 and 18, and bigger greens on all the holes.
As for the par-3 15th— one of only two oceanside holes in all of Hilton Head— it's been enhanced. Love raised the tee and the green, making the hole more winding and harder. And Instagram-worthy views of the Atlantic make the signature hole simply unforgettable.
In fact, No. 15 is Atlantic Dunes in microcosm: old, new and better than ever.