18th hole / 451 Yards / Par-4
Harbor Springs, Michigan
Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Sr. (1966)
The ending hole on The Heather Course is one that will be seared into your memory banks. Commencing from an elevated tee you see the entire hole in all its glory. The original Trent Jones Sr. design did not have a pond. Everett Kircher, the founder of the property, decided to add a pond for twofold reasons. The first would be as a undeniable hazard for golfers to avoid and the second reason was to use the water to facilitate snowmaking in the winter.
When opening in 1966 the Heather was the first of several layouts to come in the years ahead. The pond had a starring role immediately and its reputation as a demanding closing hole began to grow exponentially.
The 18th provides an ample landing area and depending upon where the pin is placed one can favor one side or the other of the fairway to secure the best angle with one’s approach shot. Long hitters run the risk in reaching the pond with their tee shot. It takes a healthy poke beyond 300 yards but with the elevated tee and with any favoring wind it’s an issue certainly one needs to consider.
The putting surface provides sufficient room but when back out in the fairway the close proximity of the pond at eye-level can be difficult to discern. Those opting to ensure a carry over the pond must be aware of two rear lurking bunkers. For those landing in either — the daunting prospect of playing a bunker shot back — in the direction of the pond can be a harrowing dilemma.
Fortunately, there is a bailout area provided for those opting to avoid the all-carry water approach. The bailout area does narrow the closer you get to the green and any pulled shot in that direction can reach rough and a few trees.
Closing holes should serve as ones that provide a lasting memory. Those leaving the 18th with a par will long remember that accomplishment. On the other hand, those finishing with double-bogey or worse, will relish the opportunity in returning to the Heather Course and evening the score. No matter what bring your “A” game because the 18th does not treat foolish plays with kindness.
The Heather was recently awarded, “Golf Course of the Year” by the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA).
For more info go to: