Hilton Head Island’s Golf Gems

Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III Hole #15
Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III Hole #15 – Photo courtesy of The Sea Pines Resort / Rob Tipton

All eyes were on “Golf Island” in April as the PGA TOUR came to Hilton Head. The RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing – a Lowcountry tradition and South Carolina’s only PGA TOUR event – was played on the iconic Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort on April 13 – 16.

Both on and off-island layouts are experiencing some of the best course conditions in years. Coupled with temperatures in the 70s and more direct flights than ever into Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport, spring is the perfect time to visit Golf Island. Keep reading to learn about some of the golf gems in Hilton Head and the surrounding area.

On-Island Gems

Harbour Town Golf Links, designed by the legendary Pete Dye, is a favorite venue among TOUR players, and anchors a stable of championship-caliber tracks across Hilton Head Island. Here’s a sampling of some of the destination’s most challenging and player-friendly layouts appealing to a wide swath of players.

Hole 4 Heron Point
Hole #4 Heron Point – Photo courtesy of The Sea Pines Resort / Rob Tipton

Also designed by Dye, Heron Point was named South Carolina’s 2015 Golf Course of the Year. Dye supervised recent enhancements including softening green surrounds and contours, enlarging several putting surfaces and adding numerous ornamental landscape beds. Additionally, the putting surfaces were transitioned to Tif-Eagle Bermuda.

Opened in October 2016, Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III is a complete reconstruction of the historic Ocean Course, Hilton Head Island’s first course. The new layout features entirely rebuilt holes with modern shot values and scenic corridors. The pronounced seaside ambience and Lowcountry feel is accented by coquina shells and seaside grass.

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort also showcases a trio of tournament-tier golf courses, designed by three legendary architects: Robert Trent Jones, George Fazio and Arthur Hills. Switch things up by renting a Golf Bike instead of a cart for your round.

The Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes sports one of only two oceanfront holes on Hilton Head Island. It is widely renowned for its open, inviting layout and challenging yet fair play. It is the most open of the three and breezes roll off the Atlantic Ocean to constantly affect play.  Ranked one of Golfweek’s “Best Resort Courses” for 2017, the Jones Course appeals to novices and experienced players alike.

Hilton Head Island’s only public par-70 design, the George Fazio Course at Palmetto Dunes has just two par 5s, both offering a good opportunities to score. The layout balances open, tree-lined fairways on the front nine with tighter and more severe routing on the back nine. With new, state-of-the-art Diamond Zoysia greens, the Fazio Course delivers a peak golf experience.

Palmetto Dunes - Arthur Hills #16
Palmetto Dunes – Arthur Hills #16

Measuring 6,651 yards from the tips, the Arthur Hills Course at Palmetto Dunes places a premium on accuracy and precision rather than distance. With an extensive network of lagoons winding through 10 different holes, continuous lines of dunes and thick stands of palmettos, the Hills Course seamlessly integrates the area’s natural beauty into its challenging design.

Off-Island Gems

Just over the bridge from Hilton Head Island, Old South Golf Links showcases the natural beauty of the Lowcountry. At this local favorite, golfers play beneath towering live oaks and alongside the Intracoastal marshes of Mackays Creek. Three holes end at picturesque island-like greens. Water and wetland pose a threat on all but three holes. Recognized by Golf Digest as one of the “Top 10 New Public Courses” of 1992, Old South remains one of the area’s finest layouts 25 years later.

The Pete Dye Signature Golf Course at Hampton Hall is a classic links style with wide fairways and landing areas, unobstructed green approaches and a safe route on every hole. Playing at 7,503 yards from the tips, length is an important factor. Nestled within a private golf community, the course does allow limited outside play. Golfers may call the pro shop up to one week in advance to schedule a tee time.

Day Tripper

Less than an hour north of Hilton Head Island, visitors can combine American military history with a round of golf. Situated within Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, The Legends Golf Course at Parris Island features beautiful marsh views and a challenging – and unique – golf experience. Originally designed by Fred Findley and George Cobb in the 1940s, the par-72 course was redesigned by Clyde Johnston in 2000. Last September it became the first military golf course in the world to earn the Golf Environment Organization’s certification. Parris Island has been training Marines since 1915. Before or after a round of golf, visitors can explore the depot’s many monuments, statues and memorials commemorating generations of Marines.

A designated Wildlife Sanctuary, Fripp Island’s 3000 acres of natural beauty are home to over 175 species of birds as well as raccoons, gators and an abundance of deer. Its two courses – Ocean Point and Ocean Creek – have at least one thing in common: spectacular scenery. A George Cobb design, Ocean Point boasts dramatic views of the ocean or inlet on 10 of its 18 holes. Both the front and back nine finish against a stunning backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. The other layout, Ocean Creek, was Davis Love III’s first signature course. Its magnificent panoramic views of the Great Salt marsh and freshwater lakes are ideal for viewing some of the abundant wildlife in their natural habitat.

Sanctuary Golf Club at Cat Island is a player-friendly layout that rewards good shots. Although a selection of elevated greens appear daunting, overall the course is a fair test. Located on a 400+ acre barrier island, Sanctuary Golf Club is Lowcountry golf at its best with statuesque oak trees draped in Spanish moss and splendid views of Port Royal Sound throughout.

Grab your clubs and journey to Hilton Head Golf Island. Natural beauty, outstanding golf and a relaxing island vibe await your arrival.

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