It may be hard to believe, but there is golf to be played the week after the Masters and Zach Johnson's improbable win. In fact, the golfers won't have far to go as they will be headed to perhaps the ultimate golfing destination in the United States, Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
Sitting on the Palmetto state's southern shoreline near Savannah, Ga., Hilton Head Island has one of the highest concentrations of golf courses to be found. In 55 square miles of land, you can find 26 different golf courses and plenty of sandy beaches where you can spend your time relaxing your day away.
Hilton Head has an average population of 32,000 year-round but that number can balloon to 150,000 in the prime vacation times as people from everywhere flock to this beautiful island with numerous outdoor attractions.
One thing about Hilton Head Island that differs from all other Tour destinations we have visited so far is the fact that this isn’t a place you can just up and go to; Hilton Head requires quite a bit of planning and investing. You won’t find any municipal courses here, but there are plenty of semi-private clubs and no shortage of resort courses.
Chief among those is the classic Harbour Town Golf Links, an extremely challenging course that plays alongside the ocean.
Harbour Town has been a regular stop on the PGA Tour since 1969. Designed by a terrific tag team of Pete Dye and, later, Jack Nicklaus, Harbour Town is a little more of a throwback course as it doesn’t emphasize the power game.
At Harbour Town, you have to make some excellent shots; the course won’t let you get away with anything less than your best effort. The pine-tree lined fairways lead to small greens that obviously require precision to find on your approach shots, leading to an all-around difficult round of golf.
|Harbour Town Golf Links is famous for its colorful lighthouse. (Getty Images)|
After Harbour Town and the other courses at the Sea Pines Resort, the question isn’t what else is there, but instead, where do I start?
How about heading across the island to take a shot at the Country Club of Hilton Head, one of the semi-private establishments on the island. Another course with a famed designer -- that would be Rees Jones -- the course carries a unique design and features, a feat that is rather difficult to achieve with so many other courses in such a small proximity.
The fairways here are not wide open as they are lined with gigantic pine trees ready to thwart any attempt you make to cut corners. Not only that, but built into the design of this course you will find salt marshes and fresh-water lagoons that help provide the pleasant scenery.
Then you come to the signature hole, the 12th -- a par 5 measuring 575 yards at its longest. When you reach the fairway -- which hopefully you will -- the fairway opens up to a breathtaking vista of the Intracoastal Waterway and the adjacent Skull Creek, trying to distract you before hitting your important second shot.
After all is said and done, the Country Club of Hilton Head carries a rating of 73.6 and a slope of 136, with a par of 72.
Green fees here run at $112 if you make your tee time in advance -- the only sure way to get yourself a tee time. But if you want to try it, you can get a lower rate by making a tee time less than 24 hours in advance: $89 before 1 p.m., $69 after. The one problem with that is that the availability isn’t always there. For more information, visit www.hiltonheadclub.com.
These two courses are obviously just a very brief look at the golfing options on Hilton Head Island, certainly you can find more. But one thing is for sure, if you are would like to make the trip to Hilton Head for a golf getaway, it will demand plenty of planning, as many of the courses require you to be a guest of their resort.
Once you have all the logistics taken care of, just enjoy yourself and golf your days away.