Hilton head island’s bang for the buck golf itinerary
Tucked in the historic and picturesque South Carolina Lowcountry—30 miles north of Savannah and 90 miles south of Charleston—Hilton Head Island is an idyllic island paradise known for its world-class golf. Making this enchanting haven all the more appealing are unspoiled sea marshes, creeks and lagoons, and 12 miles of broad Atlantic beach.
Hilton Head Island and the surrounding Lowcountry are among the fastest growing areas along the east coast. With limitless things to do and a delightfully perennial climate beckoning to be savored throughout the seasons, Hilton Head Island is a natural magnet for a spectrum of sports, recreation and outdoor leisure.
Boasting nearly two-dozen golf courses on the island alone, Hilton Head Island offers something for everyone — and every budget.
Depending on your itinerary and accommodations, golfers can find plenty of combinations that won’t break the bank.
Those wanting to tackle one south end course and one north end course in the same day should consider Shipyard Plantation and Indigo Run Plantation.
A former host site of the Hilton Head Seniors Invitational, Shipyard offers 27 holes designed by George Cobb and Willard Byrd. A fun test for all level of golfer, Shipyard’s 27 holes — Galleon, Brigantine and Clipper — can be played in any combination and are adorned by some sporty practice facilities.
Indigo Run, meanwhile, has a pair of golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son, Jack Nicklaus II. The public access Golden Bear Golf Club puts a premium on strategy and finesse, rather than sheer power.
Day two of a golfer’s itinerary could be enjoyed entirely on the north end of the island across the street from the airport at Palmetto Hall Plantation on its pair of courses designed by Arthur Hills and Robert Cupp.
Built on the site of an old Civil War garrison, Palmetto Hall’s Hills Course debuted in 1991. The Hills opens a golfer’s eyes with a long par-4 opening hole and offers plenty of scenic challenge along the way including the par-5 fifth and the imposing, 434-yard par-4 18th — one of the best tournament-type finishing holes anywhere.
Palmetto Hall’s Cupp Course is unique, innovative and eminently playable. Making waves in the industry when it opened in 1993 by virtue of its geometric bunkers and greens, the Cupp course is a stunningly original design that tests the better player, but accommodates higher handicappers as well.
Day three of a budget itinerary can take place on the north end in Hilton Head Plantation, where golfers can pick two of the four courses in the island’s second oldest plantation.
Rees Jones designed three of Hilton Head Plantation’s four courses. Bear Creek Golf Club opened in 1980 and Jones performed several renovations of the golf course in the time since. Bear Creek has tight, bunkered fairways that weave through Hilton Head Plantation’s pines and lagoons. Bear Creek’s finisher is the signature hole, a 508-yard par-5 that faces the clubhouse and requires an approach shot to a small green. Oyster Reef opened in 1983 and was immediately lauded as one of the country’s best new resort courses.
Jones threw in everything and the kitchen sink at The Country Club of Hilton Head, which debuted in 1986. Doglegs, heavily contoured fairways and undulating greens, pot and sculpted bunkers and grass hollows give the course its immense character.
Along with the trio of Jones-designed courses, Hilton Head Plantation’s first course is Dolphin Head Golf Club, which was created by Gary Player and Ron Kirby, and opened in 1974. Player’s main goal with the construction of the course was to leave as many natural features as possible and to use very little landfill to help create a natural look to the golf course. The result is a very playable and scenic golf course that has become a local favorite.