When the winter months roll around, Canadian golf nuts know that Hilton Head Island — and its renowned Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort — are ready when they are.
By Brad King
It is an irrefutable fact of life for golfers who reside up north. Golf gloves will soon be replaced by ski mitts; an 8-iron gives way to a snow shovel; and instead of counting number of strokes, one is reduced to counting inches of white stuff dropping from the sky.
Of course, recreational activities don’t necessarily need to come to a screeching halt during this time of year. For many Canadian golf nuts, winter months simply mean a temporary change of address. They know Southern hospitality cordially beckons their arrival: “Hey y’all,” a voice calls out with sugar sweetness, “Come on down.”
Question is, where to go on your winter golf getaway? Sure, there’s Florida. Everybody goes to Florida. But golf aficionados would unabashedly tell you the quality of golf in Florida is, for the most part, nowhere near what you can find in other parts of the country.
Here’s one suggestion for a change of venue on your winter menu: Hilton Head Island, S.C., the largest barrier island off the Atlantic coast between Long Island and the Bahamas, located 40 miles north of Savannah, Ga., and 90 miles south of Charleston, S.C. Hilton Head is called “The Golf Island” for good reason, with its world-class, public-access golf 12 months a year, more than 400 holes on the island and plenty more off island.
As for where to stay during your visit, Hilton Head’s “hottest” spot these days is Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, which is simply one of the most family-friendly Shangri- Las you’ll ever find. Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort offers vacationers a choice of three superb golf courses, each one unparalleled in design, and yet distinctly different and challenging.
Readers of Golfweek magazine rated the completely renovated Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course among the best golf courses in the Southeast. The George Fazio Course is regarded by many golfers as the island’s most challenging championship course and stands apart as the only par-70 course on this island. The Arthur Hills Course offers a careful blend of beauty and challenge. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson honed their skills on the Arthur Hills Course when both were college athletes, while all three layouts have been named “Golf Course of the Year” in South Carolina by the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association.
The golf carts at the Robert Trent Jones course are now equipped with a state-of-the-art Visage GPS system. The touch screen system sits on the cart, offering 3D graphics, yardages, real-time tournament tracking, ability to email scores, and food and beverage call buttons. The systems have shown to improve pace of play due to increased knowledge of the course. Palmetto Dunes is the first golf course on Hilton Head Island to offer this technology. And the resort offers a free new golf app with features for booking packages, making tee times, tracking round info and more.
Former PGA Tour player Doug Weaver, the golf resort’s highly regarded director of instruction, manages the golf academy and supervises all instruction. Golfers also may take advantage of “The Custom Fitting Experience,” a one-hour free swing evaluation and club fitting conducted by Rod Thompson, recognized by Titleist as one of the country’s top club fitters six straight years and is Plane Truth Certified. In addition, Palmetto Dunes offer free golf clinics on Mondays.
Palmetto Dunes offers a number of appealing Winter Golf Packages and “Golf-Buddy Getaways” that include accommodations at either of the resort’s two hotels, or in its golf villas and homes. If you happen to not play golf, Tennis magazine has ranked Palmetto Dunes among “The 50 Greatest U.S. Tennis Resorts” since 1975 and Palmetto Dunes Tennis was also recently ranked No. 5 in the “World’s Top 100 Tennis Resorts and Camps” by Tennis Resorts Online.
Little wonder why in 2013 Palmetto Dunes was named one of the “World’s Top Family Getaways” by Travel + Leisure Family, while Forbes magazine has rated Palmetto Dunes among its top 11 family resorts.
And, needless to say, you can’t beat the surroundings. One of America’s great resort meccas from the second half of the 20th century until today, Hilton Head Island rests luxuriously along the Intracoastal Waterway and encompasses 42 square miles of semi-tropical, Lowcountry geography warmed by the Gulf Stream and framed by palm trees, live oaks and rolling dunes. Making this enchanting haven all the more appealing are its unspoiled sea marshes, creeks and lagoons, and 12 miles of broad Atlantic beach.
Hilton Head boasts an active culture and nightlife, and fancies itself more sophisticated and upscale than its neighbor four hours to the north, Myrtle Beach. Springtime blooms early and leaves fall late in Hilton Head’s perennial climate. There are days in the middle of December that edge up to the high 70s and low 80s.
Yet, Hilton Head’s hidden secret is that once summer has come and gone, most of the tourists have gone, too. Which is what makes the months between November and February — when the average high temperature on Hilton Head is 62.5 degrees — one of the most popular times of the year for locals and savvy out-of-towners. During winter months, you’ll find a relatively small number of people tackling the island’s 23 golf courses (not including a dozen more in neighboring Bluffton) meaning those who want to play seemingly have a golf course all to themselves.
If you are looking to mix it up a little this winter and want to enjoy some world-class golf or tennis at the most family-friendly resort around, try Hilton Head Island, S.C., and its venerable Palmetto Dunes Resort. You’ll be glad you did. For more information, call 877-567-6513 or visit www.PalmettoDunes.com.