Hilton Head Rebounds from Hurricane
By: Tim Baines
Hit hard by Hurricane Matthew a bit more than two months ago, a South Carolina island that’s long been known as golf heaven is open for business – offering great course conditions.
Hilton Head Island suffered extensive tree and flooding damage, but through plenty of hard work, the pristine golf courses are ready to go and will be in prime shape for the beginning of the peak season of golfers in mid-February.
So rich in wonderful courses, Hilton Head attracts many Canadians who take their clubs and flee the cold and venture south for a golf vacation. No need to change those travel plans, as they say, the coast is clear. It’s also noteworthy that Hilton Head is very accessible from Toronto with Air Canada recently adding flights to Savannah/Hilton Head Island.
Crews have been working around the clock to fix landscaping damage and clear fallen trees and other debris from golf courses. Buildings and other structures experienced very little impact and have been open since Hurricane Matthew passed through. For more information on Hilton Head, check out http://www.hiltonheadisland.org/golf/.
“There are some spotty areas that need to be taken care of, but we’ve got plenty of time to do it. It’ll be nice to get back to true normal,” said Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort director of golf Clark Sinclair. “The courses are in really great shape. I’d venture a guess that most of the greens around this area are perfect. The only thing people will probably notice is there will be some key marker trees missing in certain places.”
Where the area has come to in a short period of time is nothing short of amazing after Matthew whipped through the area with winds of up to 140 km/hr., ripping trees out of the ground on the island of 40,000 people. The eye of the hurricane was 35 km or so to the east, actually lessening what could have been worse carnage.
“I can’t use any other descriptive other than it was mindboggling how many trees had come down,” said Sinclair. “Around certain areas of the courses and the island, it looked like a mini tornado had dropped down.
“The clubhouses were not harmed at all. There were quite a few residential houses that had extensive tree damage, but it’s a miracle it wasn’t worse. All I can say is the island is super healthy and open for business. It is amazing how fast it’s come back. The crews and the guys working on the island have been incredible in getting the job done.”
Palmetto Dunes re-opened its Robert Trent Jones and Arthur Hills courses at the beginning of December, with the George Fazio course opening just before Christmas. Golf in the area really picks up in mid-February, with the best months for business being April, October and July – in that order. Canadians are a key part of that business.
“We have large groups of Canadians and people from the north coming in,” said Sinclair. “We have groups of 60-100 who travel annually.”
Late winter/spring golfers should expect great conditions.
“It should be spectacular,” said Sinclair. “I think it’s going to be a good year for golf.”
“We’ve worked tirelessly to get our golf courses back up to par following the storm and are excited to re-open them on a daily basis,” said Cary Corbitt, president of the Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association. “We want to assure our loyal guests there’s no need to alter travel plans.”
Here are some of the winter packages being offered (in U.S. dollars):
At Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, the Winter Golf Package delivers the perfect warm-weather golf getaway for groups of 12 or more. Starting at $133 (per person, per night based on quadruple occupancy, fluctuating a bit depending on the date), it includes three nights in a two-bedroom villa, three rounds of golf on the acclaimed Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront, Arthur Hills and George Fazio courses, range balls, dining and pro shop discounts, two hours of tennis court time, and preferred rates and priority access to all other resort activities. For reservations and more information, call 877-567-6513. www.palmettodunes.com
The Heritage Golf Group’s Hilton Head Island Winter Challenge, which expires at the end of December, provides an ultimate winter wonderland for larger groups. Starting at $160 (per person, per night based on 12 players), it offers three nights’ accommodations, personalized bag tag, tee gift, logoed golf balls and unlimited golf on any of its seven courses. If playing at Oyster Reef Golf Club or Robber’s Row, the best individual score of the group will receive a $100 merchandise card. Heritage is also offering monthly “Unlimited” or “10 Round” cards through February. Additional packages include a “Couples Weekend Retreat” and “All You Can Play Golf Getaway.” For more information and reservations call 843-681-1709. http://www.hiltonheadgolf.net/
The Villa Golf Package gives golfers the chance to tee it up on The Sea Pines Resort’s three acclaimed courses – Harbour Town Golf Links, Heron Point and Atlantic Dunes. The package is available until February for $218 per player/per night and from March-May for $270. There are blackout dates of April 3-17 due to the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage going on at Harbour Town. Guests can enjoy three nights’ accommodations in a private villa with a fully-equipped kitchen, dining room and up to four bedrooms. For more information call 843-842-1488. https://www.seapines.com/
For general information on Hilton Head Island http://www.hiltonheadisland.org/