Hey PJ, “Why are you not playing on the Senior Tour?” I had to ask after his 4th or 5th 300 yard plus drive down the middle of each fairway. After a pause and with a subtle grin he replied, “Well, because then I would not be able to be the Sheriff in Hilton Head. Why would anyone who’s living here and doing what they’ve always wanted to do, want to be away from here on a regular basis?” Good enough for me, I thought. After all Hilton Head is a pretty special place!
And this was a pretty special day. I was visiting Hilton Head as a guest of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. In our planning, it skipped my host’s mind that the Chamber’s annual tournament was taking place while I was down. The day prior to the event we were playing at the Fazio Course at Palmetto Dunes. David says, “I am sure that there will be no-shows or last minute cancellations and we will get into the tournament, and if not I have us a time at Harbour Town.” How good is that? I thought to myself. Who else can say that Harbour Town is their back up! I only hope that the folks at Harbour Town were not offended.
The tournament was at the very exclusive Wexford Plantation. Not exactly the easiest place for traveling golfers to get on to but as my friend David said, “It is a special place, very distinctive, the course is exceptional and you will probably see some of the finest homes on Hilton Head…and we will have a good time with whoever they pair us with!”
I have to admit David was right again…on all counts. Some of the homes were massive, the vistas, and the boats……wow…spectacular. A number of those boats were probably as big as my house and no doubt worth more.
It was tough playing with the Sherriff at first, intimidating just because he is the Sherriff; big quiet guy that on the course that let’s his clubs do the talking. He smack’s it a mile off the tee and is a great all round player!
So you can bet that this Traveling Golfer was on his best behavior for a change. Maybe even trying a little too hard to play well.
The course was originally a Willard C. Byrd design, opened in 1983. In 2011 my favorite all time designer none other than Arnold Palmer put his Signature to the course. It is a true classic and so truly private that they average about 40 rounds per day. If there is any way you can find your way on, it is an experience that you will never forget.
I love coming to Hilton Head it is one of those special places for golfers to come too! As you are making your way from I-95 crossing bridges over inland waterways you can smell golf in the air and then golf courses begin to appear on the right, then the left, they are everywhere! The legends of the game all played here, as do the best of this day and now you too!
It is hard to believe but Hilton Head Island, only 12 miles by 5 miles wide, would have 12 golf courses on it. There are another 15 courses that make up the total of 27 that are considered to be a part of the Hilton Head area. There are over 250 restaurants to temp every pallet and pretty much any style of accommodations to suite you.
Of course when you hear the words “Hilton Head” a visual comes to mind, the red and white strips of the lighthouse on the 18th hole of the Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort www.Seapines.com The fabled course is now home to the RBC Heritage which takes place every year right after the Masters. It is one of those bucket list courses that everyone wants to play – and it deserves to be.
Kudos to our friends at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) for stepping up to the tee in 2011 when the tournament was without a sponsor and our pristine golf island and the State of South Carolina were in jeopardy of losing this historic event. The 45th RBC Heritage will take place April 15-21, 2013 at the Harbour Town Golf Links. The tradition of the “Plaid Jacket” will continue! www.rbcheritage.com
The Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is another must stop to satisfy your golfing desires. Legendary designers Robert Trent Jones, George Fazio and Arthur Hills have each carved a masterpiece on this property. The Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course is always a favorite with its par 5, 10th hole offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic. The George Fazio Course may just be the toughest on the island, a par 70 that is always ranked in America’s top 100. The Arthur Hills Course might just be the prettiest of them all, but do not take it for granted as there is plenty of water on this course.
The Heritage Collection is another group that you need to check out before your visit to Hilton Head. This group offers up 135 holes of golf at 4 different golf clubs and 7 different golf courses in total. The Port Royal Golf Club has its 54 holes of legendary golf by designer the like of Pete Dye, George Cobb and William Byrd. Shipyard Plantation has 3 nines or 27 holes and 25 dramatic water hazards… hmm …you figure that one out! Bring your ‘A’ game. Oyster Reef Golf Club is a spectacular 18 Reese Jones design that will take around lagoons, vegetation and scenic views of Port Royal Sound. Palmetto Hall Plantation is home to 2 very distinctive designs; the Hills Course designed by Arthur Hills and the Cupp Course a Robert Cupp creation. Palmetto Hall Plantation is recognized as an Audobon Cooperative Sanctuary for its commitment to environmental quality.
A favorite place of mine to stay on the island has always been the Omni Oceanfront Resort that just so happens to be minutes from the Palmetto Dunes golf properties and better still seconds from the sugar sand beaches of the islands southern coast. It is a tropical paradise that offers oceanfront views from 323 of its guest rooms. The best keep getting better as the Omni is about to embark on a roughly $17 million renovation project. Check it out for yourself
Don’t think for a minute though that Hilton Head is only about the golf. It is definitely considered a golf mecca but there are so many things to do and see that you need to check it out for yourself. A week on this small island probably will not be enough because you will want to do it all!
By: Claudio DeMarchi