I confess I’m not always able to wrap my head around Bob Cupp’s courses. The architectural features often feel out of sync—or out of proportion—with the properties and with each other. For example: Big holes with wide fairways leading to small greens; slender fairways on properties with lots of room; small bunkers where you expect big and vice versa; circular shapes where more detailed or blended edges would better compliment the surroundings…you get it.
But let me just say that at Savannah Harbor, located on Hutchinson Island in the middle of the Savannah River across from downtown, he got it all just about right.
I think truly great routings are only possible on great pieces of land with lots of secrets to explore and reveal, but Cupp, who passed away in 2016, did a nice job of weaving holes through the best parts of a largely flat site, working from the inside out to the island’s marshy edges and constantly switching directions and exposure. The switchbacks and angle alignments bring Savannah’s church spires, city hall dome and the towering stanchions of the Talmadge Memorial Bridge into view as target points at various key moments.
The seniors used to light it up during the Legends of Golf event (that has much to do with the set-up), but the course does have the potential to bite. It’s a typically windy location and the marshes abut greens in aesthetic and strategic ways, particularly at 4, 6 and 9. The putting surface at the 468-yard 12th must be one of the largest and deepest in Georgia, and though 17 and 18—a basic par three with water guarding the front right and a long, wide open par four—are both duds, the views, surfaces and rhythms here are otherwise outstanding. (90)
Architect: Bob Cupp