1. We have 21 golf courses on a small island of 12 miles.
The competition ensures five star quality in conditions and service. We are privileged to have public and private courses that promote the game of golf. The island has hosted per capita more PGA Tour, Champions Tour, men and women’s collegiate, USGA Championships, Special Olympics North American Championships and advanced junior tournaments than any city in the world. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love and Matt Kuchar all played here in college tournaments.
Golf Digest has awarded Hilton Head everything from the “Top Ten Best Buddies Trip Destination” and “Top Ten Best Couples Trip” to the “Top Ten Courses” and many more. This is why local business continues to invest over $250 million dollars in new construction and renovations. The island continues to improve.
2. Most of the courses on the island have Bermuda grass.
The setting sun, water and the slope influence the direction it grows. When preparing to putt and reading the green, look for the different colors of grass. If it is dark between you and the hole it will be a slow putt. If it is bright between you and the hole it will be a fast putt. Putting across the grain your ball will curve more than the slope says. Here are clues to look for are: drainage grates, setting sun, slopes, broken edges of the cup and ruffed up grass on the green.
3. Divots on the courses are not replaced.
Instead we repair the divoted spot with pure sand. This promotes quicker healing and a smoother surface. The local Bermuda grass has deep roots into the sandy soil. These roots will grow up through the sand faster than replacing the broken roots.
4. The post in the middle of the fairway is a 150-yard marker, giving vacationers a target and reference.
This post speeds up play by improving the golfers decision-making process and giving the golfer confidence. Another confidence building technique is using a yardage book that saves money, time and strokes. Palmetto Dunes Resort‘s Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course has GPS System on the cart that gives you exact yardages and detailed view from the sky perspective of what is ahead.
5. More than a few of the Hilton Head courses have hosted internationally recognized competitions.
This means they are championship golf courses and tougher and more demanding than most. When playing the more difficult holes, the tendency is to aim away from the trouble. For example, there is a lake on the right and the average right-handed golfer aims left with an open stance, which promotes the ball spinning to the right near or into the water. Face your fears by aiming correctly down the middle and trusting, relaxing the grip and letting the club do the work.
6. Beaches aren’t the only place you’ll find sand at on Hilton Head.
The George Fazio Golf Course alone has 86 large sand traps. This is about five sand traps per hole, some of which you can’t see out of. If you learn how to play the different sand shots, then you will conquer the course and understand why the pros often intentionally place the ball in the bunker. Allow a PGA Professional to teach a technique that will make the sand shot the easiest shot in golf.
7. The firm fairways of our island courses are caused by the sand-based soil.
The water percolates quickly through the top layer giving you a firm fairway and short, tight Bermuda grass lies. Many Northerners are often used to a fluffier lie, elevating the ball on top of the longer grass, giving more room for error to get under the ball and into the air (wrong way). They commonly pick the ball rather than hit down and through the ball, making a divot after impact (correct way). When picking the ball it results in less distance and backspin both necessary to score consistently in the 70s. Learning to strike the ball on the downswing, resulting in an invigorating release of energy in the swing, is what we all are looking for.
8. Golf courses on the island are cooler than those on the mainland.
The weather channel is often wrong; the weather is cooler than the mainland (because of breezes) and we often get less rain. We are unsure what exactly happens, but the clouds often stop over the mainland and never make it to the island. Many times we see the bad weather to the west, but don’t let that forecast dampen your spirit.
9. Hilton Head Island is home to several PGA certified and experienced coaches.
Vacations and retirement can be a time of focus on the action steps that will elevate your game to the level you desire. Start with a free lesson Monday from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course driving range. Successful coaches will nurture you efficiently through the stages of developing and simplifying your game. Remember golf is not an easy game, but it is a game of ease.
By Doug Weaver
A former PGA touring pro, Doug Weaver is the Director of Instruction at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy. He conducts “Where Does the Power Come From,” a hands-on interactive clinic and demonstration, every Monday at 4 p.m. You can reach him at 843-785-1138 or 800-827-3006.