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Getting from the Bay State to Hilton Head Golf Island is easier than ever with one-stop service from Boston-Logan International Airport directly to Hilton Head Airport on the island’s north side. Total flight time, including layover, ranges from 4:26 minutes to around five hours. So with a 6 a.m. departure, you can be on the first tee before lunch.
And with 26 courses spread over Beaufort, Bluffton and Jasper counties, MASS golfers have plenty of championship caliber layouts to choose from. What’s more, the fall is the perfect time to visit the Lowcountry, with highs in the 70s and 80s.
To help kick-start your golf trip planning for the peak fall golf season, here’s a sample itinerary including iconic on-island venues, like The Sea Pines Resort, and upstart off-island options, like Old South Golf Links.
The flight path into Hilton Head Airport from points north, like Logan International, often takes arriving and departing planes directly over Oyster Reef Golf Club. Opened in 1982, this scenic Rees Jones-designed layout was recognized by Golf Digest as one of the best new courses in the U.S.
Tipping out at 7,000 yards with a 139-slope rating, Oyster Reef continues to beguile experienced players while also appealing to average and novice golfers with its spectacular setting. Jones returned in 2018 to lead a full-scale bunker renovation project, restoring the course to its circa 1982 splendor.
If you missed a meal in transit, grab a much-needed bite to eat and a cold beer at the new LagerHead Tavern, which showcases Southern comfort food with a twist. Local favorites include slow-smoked Smithfield ham and grilled oysters plucked from the nearby May River.
Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III is the newest course at The Sea Pines Resort, having opened in 2016. It was forged from what was once the oldest course on Hilton Head Island, the resort’s Ocean Course. Love Golf Design, led by Scot Sherman and Mark Love, restored the property’s coastal aesthetic, restoring natural dune lines and adding coquina shells and native seaside grasses.
Stick around Sea Pines in the afternoon for a 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.
No Sea Pines experience is complete without a round at famed Harbour Town Golf Links, home of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage. This Dye/Nicklaus collaboration epitomizes Lowcountry course design replete with live oak-lined corridors, diminutive greens and Dye’s trademark bulkheads lining languid lagoons.
Walking 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.
Post-round, settle in for a signature cocktail at Links, an American Grill, in the stunning new Harbour Town Clubhouse. If it is remotely close to dinner (or not), order up one of Links’ signature filet, strip or porterhouse steaks.
The Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is widely considered the island’s No. 2 pitcher, drawing upon a baseball analogy. Having opened in 1967 just two years before Harbour Town, the two courses’ histories are inexorably linked.
Jones’ former protégé Roger Rulewich updated the course in 2002, elevating the fairway on the signature par-5 10thhole for even better views of the Atlantic Ocean. Credited with designing the majority of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Rulewich spent considerable time reworking every tee box and green.
Before heading out for an afternoon round on Palmetto Dunes’ George Fazio Course, make time for a hearty lunch at Big Jim’s BBQ, Burgers & Pizza at the Robert Trent Jones Course clubhouse. Big Jim’s is open seven days a week serving three meals a day, making it easy for golfers to grab a bite whenever it’s convenient.
The George Fazio Course is Hilton Head Island’s only par-70, and 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 is paramount.
For those on an extended stay, the Bluffton area just off the island is a veritable golf destination unto itself. Start with Old South Golf Links, one of the region’s best kept secrets when it comes to pure Lowcountry golf. Designed by local golf course architect Clyde Johnston, Old South is the only area public course playing along the Intracoastal Waterway.
The front and back nine views, with MacKay Creek and the Calibogue Sound in the distance, are among the best in the region and are a great way to welcome your golf group to the Lowcountry.
The variety of indigenous terrain is also worth noting – oak forest, pastures and tidal marshes are all on display, and in play. The finishing stretch, holes 16 through 18, is vintage Lowcountry with target fairways and greens requiring carries over marshland.
Hilton Head National, located just a smooth 3-wood from Old South, has long been considered one of the region’s best public venues. The design is a Gary Player, Bobby Weed collaboration, with PGA Tour design consultant Weed crafting the front nine and the Black Knight the back.
Weed’s nine presents larger greens with more severe undulations, while Player’s nine offers smaller, flatter putting surfaces. A handful of holes require forced carries over water, but there are ample opportunities to play the ball on the ground.
Similar to Old South, Hilton Head National is a “core” golf experience devoid of residential development. The par-4 sixth is widely considered the course’s signature hole. Just 300 yards from the back tees, the largest lake on property runs along the entire right side and behind the green complex.
For sheer convenience on the island, 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.
Off island, Old South Golf Links and Hilton Head National offer golf packages with the Hilton Garden Inn, located under a mile away from both courses. Two-, three- and four-night stay-and-plays are available, and the “HGI” offers guests free parking and wireless Internet.
For a more authentic Lowcountry Flavor, head to the Old Town Bluffton Inn, situated in the heart of downtown in walking distance to bars and restaurants aplenty. Myriad privately-owned vacation rentals are also available for larger groups, or those in search of more indoor and outdoor space.
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 Lowcountry waterfront dining, 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. And whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, do not miss the chance to visit Java Burrito for the region’s best “Fresh Mex” and espresso.
Off island, Old Town Bluffton is the place to be. Situated on the shores on the May River, this quaint burg is ideal for grabbing a warm meal, a cold drink and relaxing with friends. Old Town delights northern visitors with its Antebellum homes, historic churches, and unique shops, all connected by Spanish moss-covered streets.
Get the night started with a flight of hand-crafted ales at the Saltmarsh Brewing. Then, head to Captain Woody’s for a plate of Lowcountry seafood while taking in the views from the rooftop deck. Open until 2 a.m., Old Town Dispensary is a good spot to grab a night cap.
Hilton Head’s expert golf vacation planners are available to help you design your ideal Hilton Head Golf Island golf trip. Click here to complete a brief form and to receive a custom quote.
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