The Ultimate Golf Island Fall Itinerary

Brisk days shrouded in cloud cover. The changing of the leaves. The shuttering of golf season. Truth be told, these are three things you likely won’t encounter this fall on Hilton Head Island.

As for leaves, the area’s abundance of loblolly pines, live oaks and native palmettos create an evergreen environment that rarely hints at a change of seasons. So, if this sounds like the ideal setting for a golf buddy trip this fall, let the planning begin. Need a hand? Here’s a Golf Island itinerary chock-full of world-class golf, spacious accommodations and fresh seafood.  

Day One

Start things off with lunch at LagerHead Tavern at Oyster Reef Golf Club. The Seafood Chowder and Lowcountry Reuben are both to die for, as is the course, which opened in 1982 amid much fanfare and media recognition. Rees Jones designed the original layout and returned in 2018 to restore Oyster Reef to its early 80s glory via a full-scale bunker renovation project.

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Playing to a hefty 7,000 yards with a formidable 139 slope rating from the tips, Oyster Reef continues to challenge low handicap golfers while still catering to players of all skill levels with multiple tees and varying shot values. Its spectacular setting includes an unobstructed view of idyllic Port Royal Sound from the famed par-3 6th hole. 

oyster

 

Post round, pack up the clubs and head to the Brickyard Pub at Shipyard Golf Club for happy hour specials, hearty dishes like fish and chips and Guinness-braised brats, or a full selection of apps, soups, salads and sandwiches.

Day Two

Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III is the newest course at The Sea Pines Resort, forged from what was once the oldest course on Hilton Head Island. Originally the Ocean Course, Love Golf Design restored the property’s coastal aesthetic, restoring natural dune lines and adding coquina shells and native seaside grasses. 

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Photo Courtesy of The Sea Pines Resort and Rob Tipton.

If daylight savings time permits, double up for 36 holes with an afternoon round on Heron Point by Pete Dye, formerly the Sea Marsh Course. Dye returned in 2014 to oversee a series of enhancements, including softening green surrounds and contours, enlarging several putting surfaces, and adding new ornamental landscape. 

For eats, your crew has two outstanding options: fine dining at Links, An American Grille in the Harbour Town clubhouse or casual fare at Fraser’s Tavern in the Atlantic Dunes / Heron Point clubhouse. For football fans, Fraser’s features numerous flat-screen TVs for catching all the NFL or college action.  

Frasers
Photo Courtesy of The Sea Pines Resort and Rob Tipton.

Day Three

Complete the Sea Pines experience with a morning round at famed Harbour Town Golf Links, home of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage. This Dye/Nicklaus collaboration epitomizes Lowcountry course design with its live oak-lined corridors, diminutive greens and Dye’s trademark bulkheads lining languid lagoons.

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Photo Courtesy of The Sea Pines Resort and Rob Tipton.

As you walk off the 16th green and toward the tee box on the par-3 17th, the Calibogue Sound comes into view with yachts and sailboats passing leisurely by. Harbour Town culminates with one of America’s most famous finishing holes, the par-4 18th playing into the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse.

If you opted for Fraser’s the previous day, then repair to Links for a big juicy steak, bottle of Cabernet and a helping of Knickerbocker Glory – rum raisin caramel, vanilla ice cream, banana crème patisserie and honeycomb brittle.  

Day Four

The Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is on any serious golfer’s “must-play” list. Opened in 1967, Roger Rulewich led a renovation of the course in 2002, elevating the fairway on the par-5 10th hole for even better views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

RTJ

Next, head to the George Fazio Course, Hilton Head Island’s only par-70 circuit. With a slope of 144 from the 6,873-yard back tees, it’s considered by many to be the most difficult resort course on the island. With just two par 5s and a series of meaty par 4s, proper tee selection and course management are paramount. 

 

At the Robert Trent Jones Course, Big Jim’s BBQ, Burgers, Pizza & Catering is the place for breakfast, lunch or dinner pre- or post-round. Or, kick it up a level at Alexander’s Restaurant and Wine Bar located near the resort’s center. 

Extended Stay

Options abound for groups that want to hunker down and stay-and-play for five, six or even seven days. In addition to Oyster Reef, Heritage Golf Group’s Shipyard Golf Club, Port Royal Golf and Racquet Club and Palmetto Hall each feature multiple courses and ample practice facilities. Off the island, Old South Golf Links and Hilton Head National Golf Club are co-located in west Bluffton just minutes away. 

Where to Stay

For sheer convenience and a “feels like home” atmosphere, it’s hard to top a rental home or villa at The Sea Pines Resort or Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. These vacation residences are fully-appointed with all the amenities of home, including flat-screen TVs, washers and dryers, wireless internet and fully-equipped kitchens. Relax with your crew on a private balcony or patio and enjoy a nightcap and post-dinner cigar. 

Dining and Nightlife

There are more than 250 restaurants on Hilton Head Island covering the spectrum from local watering holes to fine dining establishments. For a true taste of the Lowcountry, check out Skull Creek Boathouse or Skull Creek Dockside. Hit the Main Street area for Italian at Frankie Bones or a dry-aged steak from WiseGuys. 

What to Pack

For most of the fall, shorts are sufficient. But pack a couple of pair of golf pants if you’re booking early morning tee times in November or early December. Likewise, golf polos are the optimal base layer, but bring a golf hoodie, quarter-zip or light sweater for early mornings and late afternoons. And while it may not be hot, the UV levels are still high in the fall, so bring plenty of sunscreen. 

Getting Here

Getting to Golf Island has never been easier. Hilton Head Island Airport (HHH) on the island’s north end offers non-stop and one-stop service from multiple hub cities and connections via American Airlines, Delta and United. American offers daily non-stop flights from Charlotte and seasonal service from Dallas / Ft. Worth, Philadelphia and Washington National (DCA). Delta has daily flights to Atlanta and United provides daily non-stop service to Newark (EWR) and Washington Dulles (IAD). 


Golfers can also utilize Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV), with direct flights from numerous East Coast, Midwest and Texas airports on several major and discount airlines. For golfers who prefer to hit the open road, major metro areas in the Carolinas, Georgia and north Florida are under a half-day’s drive, while several Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern cities are seven to nine hours away. For more information on golf courses, packages, accommodations and instruction, visit www.hiltonheadgolfisland.com.

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