Low country landscapes highlighted by lush ruffs, verdant fairways, and meticulously clipped greens showcase panoramic water views, brightly flowered plants, and trees draped in lacy Spanish moss. A top destination for golfers, Hilton Head, offers all the luxury and vacation getaway adventurous golfers crave.
The best way to enjoy a golf getaway on Hilton Head is to organize a group of four golfer friends and book a package through a resort for a villa and prime tee times. Alternatively, you can book your own accommodations; there are villas galore to choose from and a few name-brand hotels as well. When booking your own tee times you may need to book far in advance if you want to be guaranteed prime playing times.
The most economical way to play is to share a villa and book tee times for after 12 -- the twilight times usually come with a reduced rate. Because of the volume of players on the island, the clubs are conscious of the pace-of-play and keep a close eye on moving the golfers through, so finishing a round isn’t usually an issue. It’s the afternoon heat and humidity that will get you.
Hilton Head’s low country courses are, in general, flat. For golfers from other parts of the country where you have hilly lies, undulating fairways, and blind tee shots, you will find that less of a case here. Don’t let it fool you into thinking your round will be a piece of cake, au contraire, there are plenty of sneaky and challenging shots in your future.
There are over 30 public, semi-private, and private courses in the Hilton Head area for your golfing pleasure. Many championship courses are available to the public, and of course, depending on who you know, you might be able to get on one of the private courses.
Hilton Head’s prime season rates are on target for quality courses; however, great deals can be had during off-peak seasons or when you book a golf package with one of the resorts or golf groups. Each course listed below has been assigned a prime season price range according to the breakdown below.
$ Up to and $150 per golfer
$$ Between $150 and $250 per golfer
$$$ Between $250 and $350 per golfer
$$$$ Over $350 per golfer
Note: Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Harbour Town Golf Links, The Sea Pines Resort
The best of the best on Hilton Head, Harbour Town Golf Links, is where the big kids play. The cart-path only course was designed by Pete Dye with Jack Nicklaus consulting and is home of the RBC Heritage Classic on the PGA Tour.
Professional caddies accompany you on your links play. For this course, forecaddies are required and they serve as ambassadors for the Harbour Town Golf Links while providing you with all the yardages, strategies, and green reads to make your play both enjoyable and achievable.
The forecaddie program began in 2007 and one is required for each foursome on the Harbour Town Golf Links course and is optional on their Heron Point by Pete Dye and Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III courses. John Farrell, PGA, Director of Golf Operations at Sea Pines Resorts,
noted, “Our Caddies have servants’ hearts and our guests can feel that. They accompany the golfers pointing out aiming lines, targets, course knowledge, reading the greens, raking the bunkers, and so much more. They serve as a group concierge.”
The Sea Pines courses have been linked to the Sea Pines Forest Preserve since 1970. The preserve is a protected habitat for local wildlife where paths for strolling and exploration bring you right into the heart of Hilton Head low country nature. Farrell noted, “We have a high level of sensitivity to the environment. We use natural and organic materials instead of harsh chemicals, blending the course into the natural environment. We are very careful not to disrupt the health of our wildlife and plants.” This is not always obvious to the casual observer. However, Sea Pines Resort is proud to be an ecologically responsible resort.
Farrell recommended visiting and “Enjoying everything that Sea Pines has to offer; golf, tennis biking, boating, fishing, epicurean delights, and ambiance.” Playing and staying at the Sea Pines Resort is like golf immersion by the bay. Gorgeous water views of Calibogue Sound and the Harbour Town Lighthouse are your reward for reaching the 18th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links.
Pro Tip: If you want to be a spectator at the RBC Heritage Classic, be sure to book your tickets and accommodations early.
2. Arthur Hills Golf Course, Palmetto Dunes
The Arthur Hills Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes is one of Hilton Head’s golfing gems. The tight course offers you an opportunity to attempt some risky approaches which may (or may not) reward your go-for-it ball striking.
The first hole sets the tone for your round, a tricky par-4, it will test your accuracy. The classic Hill dunes, undulating fairways, and water features make the quest to the pin enjoyably challenging. The par-3 on the 8th hole is over the water and requires some landing finesse.
The Arthur Hills Golf Course will help you perfect your shot accuracy while you enjoy the gorgeous low country setting.
Pro Tip: There is plenty of water and tight shots here, so pack your precision and patience.
3. Oyster Reef Golf Club, Heritage Golf Collection
The 6th hole at Oyster Reef Golf Club offers one of the most spectacular views imaginable. The par-3 green is perched at the edge of the Port Royal Sound making it difficult to focus on the pin.
This classic course offers wide fairways and large greens. It is playable for an advanced beginner, and experienced golfers will find it a fun and challenging round. Skirting the edge of the course are beautiful homes and lush landscape with classic low country charm.
Pro Tip: Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the view from the 6th tee.
4. Heron Point By Pete Dye, The Sea Pines Resort
Redesigned by Pete Dye, Heron Point offers golfers seven sets of tees on each hole allowing you to pick your poison with the Dye tees clocking in at 7,035 yards of play. Conversely, you can choose the junior tees to considerably shorten the course, making it playable for confident beginners.
Part of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, the course scenery creates a stunning backdrop for each and every shot. At Sea Pines Resort you will encounter nature at every turn. The ecologically minded resort is a haven for birds, plants, and local wildlife.
Known for his iconic par-3 17th hole at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, Dye brings the same challenging approaches to Heron Point. Be prepared to experience a spectacular round of private club-style golf available to the general public.
Pro Tip: Bring your spirit of adventure and go for the long game.
5. Robert Trent Jones Course, Palmetto Dunes
The Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes is synonymous with gorgeous Atlantic Ocean views. No slicing or hooking here, or you will find yourself in the trees pretty quickly. The tree-line fairways and sandy bunkers will grab your ball.
Their signature par-5, 10th hole is challenging to land on the green in three, but the reward from the elevated green is a quintessential island course ocean view.
Pro Tip: The ocean winds come in to play on several holes.
6. Atlantic Dunes By Davis Love III, The Sea Pines Resort
The Sea Pines Resort’s third course is Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III and was completely reconstructed from the old Ocean Course. Love’s team integrated the island’s natural beauty highlighting vistas in their best light.
The par-3, 15th hole showcases spectacular ocean views that may disrupt your concentration. The natural low country landscape brings golf nirvana to your game while challenging your skills.
Pro Tip: Bring your precision shots to stay clear of the course’s strategically placed pitfalls.
7. Robber’s Row, Port Royal Golf And Racquet Club, Heritage Golf Collection
Robber’s Row is one of three courses at the Port Royal Golf Club; the other two are Barony and Planter’s Row. Designed by George W. Cobb and Willard C. Byrd then redesigned by Pete Dye, the project culminated in a beautifully designed and challenging 18 holes.
The holes are hemmed in by stands of Magnolia trees and live oaks dripping with airy Spanish moss. The small greens and narrow fairways make it a challenge to stay out of the trees.
Pro Tip: History buffs will enjoy the markers along the course highlighting the Civil War history of the area.
8. Shipyard Golf Club, Heritage Golf Collection
The Shipyard Golf Club is unique in that it offers three 9-hole courses expanding your 18-hole options from advanced beginner-friendly to challenging for the seasoned golfer. The three courses, the Clipper Course, the Galleon Course, and the Brigantine Course, allow you to combine the three and play a 9, 18, or 27 hole round that comes together to exceed your golf expectations.
Wide fairways lined by mature trees and beautiful homes make this flat course perfect for the advanced beginner but can challenge the expert golfer.
Pro Tip: Mix and match your 9-hole play to create a round that complements your golf prowess.
9. George Fazio Golf Course, Palmetto Dunes
The George Fazio Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes is a local favorite and is great for golfers just getting their swing on. The par-70 course sports only two par-5 holes making it practiced beginner friendly. With a mix of open and narrow fairways, the George Fazio Golf Course offers challenging and rewarding play.
Pro Tip: The small greens will test your chipping skills.
When you are heading off to your Hilton Head golf getaway, The Best Things To Do On Beautiful Hilton Head offers some dining options, stays, and activities to enhance your golf getaway experience.