Location: Hilton Head Island, SC
Architect: Pete Dye
February 9, 2008
Just 3 months after my trip to Hilton Head Island to play Harbour Town I find myself back on the island. This time I have an invite to the private Long Cove Club. Fortunately I have a lot of business contacts on Hilton Head and I got lucky with the first one I asked about Long Cove. Turns out my client’s brother is a member at Long Cove and he was able to arrange space in his weekly match for me as well as my friend Rob. What luck!
Rob and I arrived at 8:10 for our 8:45 tee time and met our host, Bill, at the bag drop. There were 12 of us in his group and we headed to the range to warm up and meet the other guys in the group. It simply wouldn’t be the South if Rob and I hadn’t received some razzing for our allegiance our our alma maters, Virginia Tech (me) and Clemson (Rob). College sports are nearly a religion in the South which is one of the many, many things I love about the region.
We headed to the tee box where we were in the first of the three groups to go off. We were playing with our host Bill and his friend Dec. I rode with Bill and Rob rode with Dec who made it very clear that was not pleased to be sharing a cart with a Clemson Tiger. I suspect he’s even more displeased now that I’ve broadcast this fact on the internet. I only wish I had thought to snap a photo of him chauffeuring around Rob and his bright orange Clemson golf bag!
The course immediately reminded me of Harbour Town with its narrow pine tree lined fairways. The first par 5 we came to (hole #3) was the number 1 handicap hole. Fifteen years ago Golf Digest selected the 18 toughest holes in America and this one made it on the list. I did manage to finish it with a bogey, but I had to chip in to do it. This was just my first stroke of good luck for the day. I’m not sure I’ve ever play a round of golf with so many lucky breaks in it. As Dec said “You’ll play lots of different rounds of golf on your Top 100 quest, but you can say your luckiest round was at the Long Cove Club!”
Below is a photo of the 6th hole which is a pretty par 5 that tees off over water. This gives you an idea of how picturesque this course is.
Below is the first of the par 3s on the back nine, number 13. It was a short little poke over the marsh. I hit a 120 yard shot. Unfortunately, I came up short. The marsh is such that you can get in it fairly easily and play out. That was fun. Yes, I checked for gators first. None on this hole, but we did see quite a few. Several really big ones.
The photo below is the 14th hole. This was a par four where you really only needed to hit your tee shot about 200 yards and then cut the angle to the green. Rob BOMBED a drive here and was probably 70 yards beyond all of us.
I really liked the hole below, number 15. It is a really good looking hole with the 2 trees and the pot bunker protecting the green. This photo doesn’t do it justice. One thing I have learned for certain is that I am not a photographer.
The photo below is the final par 3 of the day. It was playing 190 yards with the wind, all carry over water. I did not fare so well on this hole I’m afraid.
After the round we went to the upstairs grillroom and sat on the porch which has a great view of the 18th hole. As the other groups came in we found that we didn’t win, but we didn’t finish dead last either. For Rob and me it was nothing but a win to play such a wonderful golf course with such fun people on a beautiful 70 degree day in February. We spent our last 30 minutes at Long Cove Club having a great time on the porch swapping stories with our new friends and listening to some simply hilarious Long Cove fokelore.
I’m glad I got the chance to play Long Cove and Harbour Town so closely together. I liked Harbour Town, but at $300+ per round there I can’t say there is a lot of value there. Harbour Town has a novelty feel to a number of holes. Long Cove is the type of course that felt like all Pete Dye had to do was walk the land and put tee markers and flag sticks out. The course had a very natural feel the way it wrapped its way around the land. Even though it has only been there since 1982 it felt unforced and like it had grown there hundreds of years ago. What a really great course.