Don't tinker with the alignment of stars when Harbour Town clubhouse is replaced

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comMarch 19, 2013 

Rickie Fowler signs autographs at Harbour Town in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island in this file photograph from 2011. The clubhouse, pictured in the background, is expected to go through a facelift in 2014, after this year's RBC Heritage presented by Boeing.

FILE — File Buy Photo

They're talking about tearing down the Harbour Town clubhouse and replacing it with something bigger and nicer.

It was built in such a hurry in 1969, the shocker is that it has lasted this long.

The low-slung building in Sea Pines came to life in a mad dash -- like the Hilton Head Island babies of that era born in the back seat of a car racing to the nearest hospital, in Beaufort.

For the clubhouse, the rush was to have something other than a doublewide in place for the playing of the island's first PGA Tour golf tournament. Outside, the Harbour Town Golf Links also was finished at the last minute, bringing to life a tournament so steeped in history it was called the Heritage.

"I distinctly remember putting carpet down in the clubhouse that morning," Bill Whalley told me about that Thanksgiving Day the tournament began. Whalley and his brother, John, were experienced builders out of Savannah. He said they built the clubhouse in four and half months, pouring the foundation and erecting the frame before the architect finished the plans.

It may have looked like chaos, but the stars were aligned just right. The 45th edition of what is now the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing will tee off next month.

With the clubhouse being fretted over, and the skeletal Harbour Town Lighthouse still hidden by scaffolding, no one could have guessed how bright that constellation of stars was.

Arnold Palmer won the tournament on a course designed by Pete Dye with help from Jack Nicklaus. Charles E. Fraser was the dreamer behind the scheme to put his fledgling Sea Pines on the map. Writers gathered by Charles Price -- including Dan Jenkins and Furman Bisher -- would tell the world about it all. Only time would tell us that they all would be celebrities in their fields.

But there was one more star whose quiet contribution at the clubhouse must not be overlooked now.

This contribution came from landscape architect Robert Marvin of Walterboro. He was called Fraser's soul mate, with his love of natural beauty and his meticulous plans to break down barriers between the outside and inside worlds of mankind.

Long after the clubhouse was finished, Marvin made sure that new buildings did not block the view to the Harbour Town Lighthouse -- by then a symbol for Sea Pines and Hilton Head.

You can stand at the front door of today's clubhouse and, through a small gap between villas across the street, see the candy-striped lighthouse.

When the new building comes to life, those stars must remain aligned.

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