Hilton Head Island Golf Vibe

Play it Forward for Faster, More Fun Hilton Head Golf

I just returned from a golf-less weekend in Michigan trucking my daughter off to school, noticing that players up there are already layering up to play their last rounds of the season. Upon crossing the magic bridges from the mainland to our Island retreat, with the weather cooperating perfectly (I told you last month that Mother Nature understands the Labor Day weekend is the time to finally turn down the thermostat), I was left to wonder what else could make the game even more fun, and a lot less frustrating. And to the rescue comes Jack Nicklaus?

He held a series of events over Labor Day weekend at Muirfield Village in suburban Columbus, OH that featured 8-inch diameter cups (about twice the size of regulation holes) and just 12 holes, seeking to cut the time for a “round” to 2-1/2 hours. Not sure I’m ready for that drastic a change in my game, but Jack’s also endorsing something that the PGA of America is promoting and several Island golf courses are also encouraging. Its called “Tee it Forward”, an effort to make the game make more sense to play for all of us by having us play courses from tees that allow us to have a second shot at the green just like the pros do, removing the stigma of the “red” or “senior” or “ladies” tees for shorter hitters who’d have a lot more fun playing the game if they could get if off the tee and not face another long, long approach to the green.

For a player who drives the ball 200 yards (they don’t say straight), a course distance of 5,200 to 5,400 yards would be appropriate. The sliding scale from there would likely leave you inside 150 yardsyou’re your approach shots to par-4s and might even make a few of the par-5s reachable in two (and how much fun would that be)! Finding more fairways off the tee, and hitting the ball fewer times (especially those nasty 2nd and 3rd tee shots) will also speed up play, something we can all root for.

Off the Island, Crescent Pointe, a challenging Arnold Palmer layout, and two of the Heritage Collection’s layouts on the Island, Shipyard and Oyster Reef, are on-board with the PGA’s experiment and likely many more courses will follow. Don’t we beat ourselves up enough in this game without making it harder by letting our egos get in the way on every tee? Golf’s supposed to be fun, masochistic fun sometimes, but a lot more fun than we make it. Come to think about it, maybe that 8-inch cup idea of Jack’s isn’t so bad after all!

Who has the best 19th hole on Hilton Head Island?

The best part of Hilton Head Island is all of the choices: Where to stay, where to golf, where to eat, what to do.

I’ve made several golf trips out of state recently and Hilton Head Island still wins in the options category.
Just do the numbers. There are 6,000 rooms in which to lay your head, 200+ restaurants in which to eat, more than two dozen courses on the 12-mile Island on which to golf and a dozen more just over the bridge. There is biking, fishing, sailing, kayaking, tennis, horseback riding and of course, beachcombing. It has it all and it will most graciously share.

Read this carefully. You can’t go wrong. True, some restaurants are better than others, some accommodations have one or two more stars and only a few courses have ocean views. But those are details, people. Fact: If you are disappointed, tell someone (nicely) and they’ll do whatever they can to fix it. But those instances are rare.

The best part of a vacation on Hilton Head Island or Daufuskie Island or in Bluffton is you can dial in exactly what you want, from the basics to the stratosphere. Now that you understand the rule that you can’t really, truly go wrong, let’s nitpick.

Who has the best 19th hole?

Here are my top three: The nicest pub is at Palmetto Hall. Just sitting in the library makes you feel smarter. The most interesting mix of people is at the clubhouse shared by Heron Point and the Ocean course in The Sea Pines Resort. When I was there, I met an attorney-turned-bartender and a few crusty old golfers who regaled us with stories. The best deck is overlooking the 9th green of Harbour Town Golf Links. I liken it to the balcony of Buckingham Palace only in reverse. You get to see the golf royalty approach you.

Please, before anyone tosses drinks sans containers my way because I left off a favorite, let me reiterate. You can’t go wrong.  All the options are just different shades of white, slight distinctions within near perfection. Sitting on the deck at Island West or Eagle’s Pointe is equally awesome. For instance, make sure you check out the furniture at Shipyard’s pub. Really regal. The Country Club of Hilton Head has one of the most welcoming decks. You’ll want to take up residency there. No matter where you go, it’s going to

So, what’s your favorite 19th hole on Hilton Head, Daufuskie or Bluffton? Don’t be shy — remember the rule. There is no wrong answer.