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A Guide to Hilton Head Island's Best Golf Courses

Posted by Bill True on Thursday, April 11th, 2019 at 2:54pm.

The Hilton Head Island Region of the South Carolina Lowcountry has won awards over the last ten years for its ever-improving status as the destination in the United States if you want to play golf.

From Golf Magazine designating Hilton Head among the top five golf havens for retirees, to Golf Digest recently ranking it in seven of the eight top categories for golf destinations in its “Top 10 Best Courses” listing. Add to those impressive honors the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) recognition as the Sustainable Golf Destination of the Year and you will have zeroed in on the choice location to visit, or better yet, to become a resident of, if golf is your passion.

I’ll define the Hilton Head Island Region as the geography from exit number 8 on I-95, East on US 278 through Hardeeville, and Bluffton crossing the bridge to Hilton Head Island. Here the golf enthusiast will pass over thirty golf courses open to the public, most in private communities with impressive facilities including outstanding club houses with dining services.

The following paragraphs reflects our effort at identifying the ten courses that are the best according to four organizations that have visited and played each of the over thirty courses. They are presented here in alphabetical order, since as you can probably guess, the four rating organizations did not agree on the positioning in the race to best, of any of the ten.

The Top Ten

Country Club of Hilton Head

Designer - Rees Jones

Play, relax and enjoy life in a picturesque Hilton Head Island, South Carolina setting with an 18-hole championship golf course amid pine forests and the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway. Tennis, swimming, fitness and dining are among our first-class amenities, plus benefits beyond the Club as part of the ClubCorp family.

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Golden Bear at Indigo Run

Designer - Jack Nicklaus

Tee it up at one of the top-rated layouts among Hilton Head Island's many top-flight designs. The Jack Nicklaus-designed public golf course in Indigo Run is made up of 18 holes winding through a gorgeous landscape of towering oaks and pines and is part of the ClubCorp family. It's an unrivaled golf experience with manicured bent grass greens and immaculate fairway and tee complexes.

Bring family and friends for a round of golf, dining, corporate entertaining, golf outings and private parties

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Harbour Town

Designer - Pete Dye & Jack Nicklaus

Put your game to the ultimate test at Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort. It is both the crowning achievement of famed designer Pete Dye and design consultant Jack Nicklaus, and a perennial favorite among PGA TOUR players, as it places a premium on finesse, imagination and shot making, rather than strength.

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Hilton Head National

Designer - Gary Player

Hilton Head National, located just one mile from the bridges to Hilton Head Island, in Bluffton, South Carolina and just 25 minutes from Savannah, Georgia, had a banner year for courses located in Beaufort County. Carrying the banner of Scratch Golf Management, Hilton Head National won three of the most prestigious awards in for area; The Island Packet Newspaper, The Bluffton Today Newspaper and Hilton Head Monthly’s Magazine’s “Reader’s Choice Awards” as Favorite Golf Course.

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May River, Palmetto Bluff

Designer - Jack Nicklaus

You might chalk it up to mere curiosity if you wind up in a bunker at the May River Golf Course. After all, it's not every day that you get to walk through sand from Ohio - especially when you're golfing in the South Carolina Lowcountry. But like everything at this beautiful Jack Nicklaus Signature Course, the sand was chosen for a reason, as its angular grain adheres better to sloped surfaces and holds up to coastal weather. Of course, there's much more than sand on this beautiful par-72 course, which weaves almost 7,200 yards along the banks of the May River.

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Old South

Designer - Clyde Johnston

In the Hilton Head area, Old South Golf Links is regarded as a favorite year after year by local residents and visitors alike. Since the Clyde Johnston’s designed course opened, golfers continue to be attracted to the natural beauty of Lowcountry golf that Old South provides. Just over the bridge from Hilton Head Island, vacationers regularly make the short trip to Bluffton to play golf amid towering oaks and rolling terrain while soaking in magnificent views from the island greens abutting the intracoastal marshes of McKay’s Creek.

Golfers are often greeted by the abundant wildlife from wood storks to soaring hawks and grazing deer to alligators inhabiting the lagoons. If you are visiting the Hilton Head area, we invite you to come enjoy a day at Old South Golf Links. The friendliest staff in town awaits you! A Great Public Golf Course.

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Palmetto Dunes (Arthur Hills)

Designer - Arthur Hills

The Arthur Hills golf course at Palmetto Dunes is a public course that blends the topographic beauty of the Lowcountry with the inherent challenges of the game to produce a unique golfing experience in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

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Palmetto Dunes (Fazio)

Designer - George Fazio

Many golfers regard the George Fazio Course at Palmetto Dunes, a golf resort in South Carolina, as the most challenging public golf course on Hilton Head Island. This course is designed to be challenging but enjoyable for each skill level.

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Palmetto Dunes (Trent Jones)

Designer - Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

The Robert Trent Jones golf course at Palmetto Dunes is considered to be one of the best golf courses in the Southeast. Take advantage of available packages and book a golf trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina to play on this beautiful course!

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Sea Pines (Heron Point)

Designer - Pete Dye

Designed by legendary course architect Pete Dye, Heron Point is the centerpiece of any Hilton Head Island golf vacation. Dye himself supervised Heron Point's recent modifications with the objective of making the course more player-friendly, and the result is an award-winning stroke of genius.

At 7,035 yards from the back tees, Heron Point can play considerably shorter if needed, with seven sets of tees on each hole (including tees for juniors). Golfers are challenged by risk-reward long and short holes, fairways that move toward and away from hazards and Dye's ubiquitous mounding and swales framing target areas.

On four holes with water guarding the greens, alternating wood and grass walls create conspicuous bulkheads, visually dramatizing the peril. Even more striking, a mixture of grasses, sand, mulch and limestone surfaces provides a vivid tapestry of color for this Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

One of Golf Digest's "Best Places to Play" and South Carolina's 2015 Golf Course of the Year, this cohabitation of beauty and beast (at times) is poised for even more acclaim.

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Enjoy your next round of golf at one of Hilton Head Island’s Ten Best Courses, and don’t forget to celebrate at the Nineteenth Hole!

For more information about golfing on Hilton Head, please contact Bill True online or call 1-843-384-9088 to get in touch with a qualified Bluffton / Hilton Head area real estate professional.

-Bill True

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