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The champ is here

LOCAL Life’s Brooks Golba shares a few secrets following his dominant Media Day performance at Harbour Town.

Photograohy By Arno Dimmling

Harbour Town Golf Links is one of the most celebrated courses on the PGA Tour. Many of the world’s best golfers come to relax with their families following an exhilarating week at the Masters. But the easy-going atmosphere doesn’t mean the golf is easy, by any stretch. Harbour Town consistently ranks among professional golf’s most challenging layouts. Its narrow fairways, overhanging oaks and dark lagoons demand that each shot be executed properly. To win a plaid jacket, every stroke requires thought.

It’s a course where shot-makers such as Jim Furyk, Luke Donald and Matt Kuchar thrive. While it is one of the shorter courses at 7,101 yards, many world-class players are frustrated each year with its difficult angles and challenging pin positions.

LOCAL Life’s Brooks Golba, an avid golfer, was offered the chance to tee it up on the famed course for the first time as part of the tournament’s annual Media Day. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came with just one demand: Bring home the trophy.

Golba didn’t crack under the pressure. Pressure makes diamonds. He went out and did us proud, leading his foursome to Media Day victory. Here are a few of his thoughts on the experience.

Overview

One of the best courses I have ever played. It has arguably the best collection of par 3s on Tour, mixed with other great and challenging holes. The condition of the golf course can rival any course in the country. In terms of courses I have played, I think one that is very similar is the Cassique course on Kiawah Island. Both are links-style golf courses and are high-risk/high-reward. A local course that it reminds me of is Moss Creek (South).

Favorite hole

I have two. I loved hole No. 15. It is very well designed with a blind second shot to the green where you have the option to try and cut the hole off by taking a shot over the trees. I also loved the signature hole, No. 18. On paper it seems to be a simple hole — it has the widest fairway on the PGA Tour and is pretty straightforward — but when you start thinking about the Calibogue Sound, everything changes.

Least favorite

To be honest, I didn’t really have a least favorite. The course is set up in such a great way that there are no bad holes. If I had to pick, I would say No. 3. Not because it is a bad hole, it is just very simple.

Playing partners

The best team at RBC Heritage Media Day was (from left) David Lauderdale, Brooks Golba, Connor Delprete and Daniel Cort.

I played with Daniel Cort, Connor Delprete and David Lauderdale. Everyone played great and supported the team in different ways. Daniel and I did most of the heavy lifting, but David made a few great putts, and Connor had a few iron shots that put us very close. It was a lot of fun to share the experience with people who appreciate the golf course and how important the RBC Heritage is to this area.

Favorite story

After we finished our original 18 holes, we had about an hour to spare before the Media Day lunch would take place. Daniel knew the head pro and asked if we could continue to play until the lunch started. He said yes! For nine additional holes, Daniel and I were the only people on Harbour Town Golf Links. I’m not sure that will ever happen again.

Infamous No. 14

The hole is so challenging because it is mostly water carry. Depending where the pin is placed, you might only have a few yards of area to land your ball on the green. Another challenge is the trees on the left side of the green. They create a challenge for anyone trying to cut the ball onto the green to take away some of the water. In my group, my three partners hit the ball in the water and left me to try and get over. I bailed out to the left side of the green, barely making it, and made a par.

Water hazards

Besides the great views of the water on holes 16 through 18, I didn’t have to deal with any water at all, thankfully. The water is very prevalent on the back 9 of the golf course, so accuracy is paramount to avoiding it. I had a close call on No. 14, but just barely cleared the water and made par.

Expectations vs. reality

I would say that it was easier than I expected. It probably had something to do with the conditions being very benign with close to no wind. I hit the ball very well off the tee and only missed one fairway; that allowed me to have short irons and wedges into greens. If I had not hit my driver well, the round would have gone a lot differently. The conditions on the golf course are so good that you always have a good lie. That’s a true testament to the staff at Harbour Town Golf Links.

Advice

Keep it simple. Keep the ball in the fairway as much as you can. The greens are very small, so a great deal of precision is required on your approach shots. Trying to get the ball on the green from the rough is exponentially harder than from the fairway. I would also say that you should be aware of the pin position from the tee box. Think about what club would be best for you to approach the green. It’s not always best to use driver.


Pro tip

Don’t hit driver on hole No. 9. Hit a long iron or hybrid and land around 100 yards away. If you’re too close, you have no shot.


What was in your bag?

Driver: TaylorMade M4

3-wood: TaylorMade SLDR

Irons: TaylorMade Burner 2.0

Wedges: Vokey SM6 60, 56, 50

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x