Redux: Harbour Town A Shotmaker's Course?

A year ago I suggested that Harbour Town wasn't the shotmaking masterpiece the CBS gang and now the PGA Tour players suggest it is, and now I'm happy to say that Tom Dunne has joined the debate.

Ask yourself this: Would "fun" be among the first adjectives you’d use to describe Harbour Town? Not to this observer. This isn’t meant as a value judgment—Dye’s modus operandi with most of his designs is to take golfers out of their comfort zones, using all kinds of stratagems to ratchet up the intimidation level. They weren’t necessarily designed to be "fun," though of course many golfers enjoy the thrills and stark do-or-die challenges that they offer.

Here’s the larger, more important question, though: Is Harbour Town a great strategic golf course? I would argue it is not, because despite the creativity of Dye’s greens and hazards, the course is a tactical nightmare.

It acquired a reputation as a shotmaker’s course, but in defining it in opposition to the "7,200-yard championship designs" of the Trent Jones era, it’s possible that problematic or imprecise language was used. The issue is that at Harbour Town, the nature of those shots are frequently dictated to the player, and that far too often the demand is to hit it dead straight, or else. Does a true shotmaker’s course limit the player’s options? Sure, in the course of every round the player will probably have to manufacture at least a couple of wild, thirty-yard hooks or slices around trees. That’s shotmaking, all right, but it’s of the forced variety rather than the imaginative.