How to tackle Harbour Town’s iconic 18th hole

March 15, 2017

Great finishing holes, such as the 472-yard par 4 at Harbour Town, site of this month’s RBC Heritage, are designed to create lasting memories. They’re also meant to mess up your scorecard. Typically, iconic holes are hard. This one surrendered birdie at a 6 percent clip last year, making it the Tour’s 10th-toughest par 4 in 2016. That’s no surprise, what with a 200-yard-plus approach to a mattress-sized green with nothing but Calibogue Sound to the left. Here’s how to tame tough closers and walk to the clubhouse a winner.


Pete Dye designed a nice, wide fairway on 18 – so try to find it. How? Select a precise landing spot. Weekend golfers typically target the “middle” on wide holes, but it’s better to be specific with your aim, just as you are on narrow holes. This way, if you “miss” your spot, you might still find the short grass. Here, the lighthouse is your line.


Because the approach on No. 18 demands a full carry over the sound, missing short and left means hitting your next shot from basically the same spot after the penalty drop. So unless your swing is dialed in, move your target a good 10 yards away from the trouble. Here, aiming toward the bail-out area short and right of the green still gives you a shot at par.


The mounded area right of the green will test your wedge play – uneven lies abound. Solution? Putt with your hybrid. It’s even easier here because you don’t have to putt to an elevated green. Treat the fairway grass like it’s part of the green and apply the same stroke you’d use for a regular putt from the same distance. Tough hole – easy par.