Best golf courses in Hilton Head
From world-class golf to miles of white-sand beaches, Hilton Head Island is the perfect setting for your next golf vacation.
With more than 23 championship courses on the island, designed by the likes of Pete Dye, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones and Jack Nicklaus - there are few parts of America that offer such a collection.
Understandably, it is hard to choose where to play, so to help you with that decision, we’ve listed the 11 best golf courses in Hilton Head that we believe will make your next golf vacation all that more special.
1. Harbour Town Golf Links
The epitome of golf on Hilton Head Island, Harbour Town Golf Links is integral to American golf. Since 1969, it has been a regular on the PGA TOUR’s schedule as the host to the RBC Heritage Tournament.
Designed by Pete Dye, with some consultation from Jack Nicklaus, the golf course demands extreme accuracy as small greens, numerous water hazards and many well-placed overhanging branches are found throughout. The 18th hole is known around the world, a par-4 played with the Calibogue Sound waterway on the left-hand side and the iconic red and white hooped Harbour Town lighthouse as the backdrop to the green. A bucket-list golf course for everyone who enjoys the game.
2. Robert Trent Jones Course – Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
Named after its designer, with the help of Roger Rulewich, the Robert Jones Course is situated onsite at the popular Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. 11 of the 18 holes play alongside and across the lagoon that winds its way through the property, and although the fairways are generous, a wayward tee shot is quickly penalised. The par-5, 10th hole is often considered the signature, as the elevated green offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
3. Atlantic Dunes - The Sea Pines Resort
Redesigned in 2016 by Davis Love III, the Atlantic Dunes Course at The Sea Pines Resort is a complete reconstruction of the historic Ocean Course that was the first to be built on Hilton Head Island. Love and his team restored natural sand dunes and added thousands of indigenous plants to create a visually stunning layout that captures the seaside ambience.
The front nine runs parallel to the ocean and the back nine stretches out towards the beach, with the sea breeze strengthening the closer you get to the shore. Certainly, a great addition to any Hilton Head golf itinerary.
4. Arthur Hills - Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
Arthur Hills is another architect who is rightly praised for his work on Hilton Head Island. The Arthur Hills Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes is one of the most unique layouts within the entire state and has been included in the ‘Top 30 Best Courses You Can Play in South Carolina’.
Accuracy and precision will reign over distance, and this is best demonstrated by the fact that ten holes feature water hazards. It is difficult to find a more creative layout throughout the island and provides a formidable test for even the best golfers.
5. Hilton Head National Golf Club
Hilton Head National is situated one mile from the bridges that lead you onto Hilton Head Island and is an excellent venue for a round of golf on your arrival or departure day. Gary Player worked alongside award-winning architect Bobby Weed to create this demanding yet fair layout.
There is much risk-reward to consider, which is best highlighted by the signature 6th, a par-4 that is protected by a perilous lagoon on the right and deep pot bunkers to the left. Unlike many of the courses in the area, there are no homes overlooking the layout, which has helped the wildlife and natural vegetation flourish.
6. George Fazio Course - Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
The George Fazio Course is the only par-70 on Hilton Head Island, and it provides one of the most interesting layouts that you’ll face. It is often regarded as the island’s toughest test due to its lengthy par 4s and was recently awarded ‘South Carolina Golf Course of the Year’ by the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association.
The modern Diamond Zoysia greens make putting a difficult yet rewarding experience and the layout was designed to be a stern test without compromising on fairness. It is part of the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort that has 54 holes of golf on the property.
7. Heron Point - The Sea Pines Resort
There are few certainties in life. However, if Pete Dye’s immaculate eye has been cast on the design of a golf course, you know it will be extra special. Like other courses dotted around the island, risk-reward is the theme as Dye entices you to take the dangerous line over many hazards.
There are four holes where water is guarding the green and the elevated fairways result in no simple approach shots. You’ll be able to choose from seven tee options – including juniors – which makes Heron Point very enjoyable for a family round of golf. Voted South Carolina’s 2015 Golf Course of the Year and included as one of Golf Digest’s ‘Best Places to Play’, the vision of Dye has seldom been so good.
8. Barony Course – Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club
The Barony Course was designed by George W. Cobb in the 1960s and it was one of the first established on the island. The layout is the epitome of target golf and the risk-reward approach shots will either have you jumping for joy or begrudgingly playing a provisional ball.
The small greens are protected by thick rough and ruthless bunkers, and it quickly becomes apparent that your short game will be the key to unlocking a good score. If you’re looking to muscle your way through this course, then think again; an intelligent game plan will be needed as landing zones are slim and the hazards are awaiting any balls that deviate from their intended line.
9. Robber’s Row – Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club
Robber’s Row was designed by George W. Cobb and Willard C. Byrd in 1967, before being beautifully remastered by Pete Dye in 1994. It is located near the Port Royal Plantation and is surrounded by native live oaks.
Uniquely, this course was built on former Civil War grounds and as you traverse the landscape, you are informed of interesting facts about that period in American history. From a performance perspective, the fairways are wide and generous, but the danger lies further into the holes. The greens are well protected, and each approach shot will require accuracy if you are to escape unscathed.
10. Oyster Reef Golf Club
The moment Oyster Reef Golf Club was completed, it immediately ranked as one of the Top 25 Courses in America, which is a testament to its talented designer: Rees Jones. Built upon 190 acres of low-country terrain, the 18-hole championship course is surrounded by lush vegetation, twisting lagoons and panoramic views of the island.
The facility also boasts one of the most picturesque holes on the entirety of Hilton Head, the par-3 6th – which is set against the magnificent backdrop of the Port Royal Sound. Oyster Reef Golf Club was previously voted ‘Favorite Course of Hilton Head Island Golfers’ and is a fine addition to any golf vacation on the island.
11. Haig Point – Signature Course
While Haig Point may not be situated on Hilton Head Island, it requires only a short boat trip across the sound to Daufuskie Island. The breath-taking environment here feels like it could have been created exclusively for the game of golf. A Rees Jones design, the architect first stood on this land in 1986, he later returned in 2007 to restore greens and further enhance the revered reputation of this wonderful layout.
The Signature Course has appeared in Golf Digest’s ‘America’s 100 Greatest Courses’ as well as featuring in Golf Magazine’s ‘Top 100 in the World’. Uniquely, the course has 20 holes and when you approach the 8th and 17th, you’ll have two holes to choose from. Whatever route you take, you can be assured that Jones has created a formidable challenge amongst the most naturally beautiful landscape.
Hilton Head Island offers a unique environment for a truly memorable vacation. Whilst the golf deservedly takes the limelight, the beaches; restaurants & nightlife; resorts and daily activities all play a huge part. With so much to do and enjoy, Hilton Head Island really does have something for everyone, especially those that love the game of golf!
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