Golf on Hilton Head Island is something special. As one of the Lowcountry’s top golfing destinations, Hilton Head offers a variety of courses that wander through all kinds of coastal landscapes, with Oceanside greens and fairways lined with acres of pine and live oak trees. Lagoons meander through many of the golf courses on Hilton Head Island, making golf on Hilton Head Island not only challenging but beautiful too.
Not only does Hilton Head host the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage at the Harbour Town Golf Links, but the island also has a multitude of resorts, each with their set of courses presenting different challenges. With over 50 courses in the surrounding areas and over 20 courses on the island alone, there’s no shortage of golf on Hilton Head Island.
Bear Creek Golf Club in Hilton Head Plantation (Private)
This 72-par course features 6,804 yards of tight, bunkered fairways with winding doglegs surrounded by tall pines and beautiful lagoons. It was Rees Jones’ first solo design in 1980, which was completely renovated in 2006. The layout favors the shotmaker with bunker-filled fairways twisting around trees and water hazards and the 419 Tifway Bermuda and super dwarf TifEagle Bermuda greens are so great that Bear Creek hosted both the 2014 Hilton Head Amateur and Hilton Head Open. Guests interested in playing at the private course should inquire about their “member for a day” program.
Country Club of Hilton Head in Hilton Head Plantation (Private)
Also in Hilton Head Plantation is Rees Jones’ 6,919-yard, 72-par course at the Country Club of Hilton Head. With 14 doglegs, water on 16 holes and the highest point on Hilton Head Island on hole 12, this course makes for an enjoyable game meandering through marshland and canopies of pine and oak trees. The course has 12 greens that back up to Skull Creek, which presents a breezy challenge to golfers. In 1999 and 2005, the Country Club hosted the U.S. Open Qualifier.
Dolphin Head Golf Club in Hilton Head Plantation (Private)
This course inside Hilton Head Plantation was one of the first on the island, designed by Gary Player and Ron Kirby in 1974. It was a semi-private course owned by Hilton Head Plantation until 1983, when Dolphin Head Golf Club took over, redesigning it with new greens and bunkers. Players will find a great view of Port Royal Sound on the fourteenth hole and gusty winds that will even affect the back nine holes. But that’s not the only challenge! Water hazards on 13 holes and undulating greens redesigned by Clyde Johnston in the 1990s will test players’ putts.
Golden Bear Golf Club in Indigo Run (Semi-Private)
Jack Nicklaus designed this course in 1993 with sand traps and water hazards to keep things interesting during games on this leisurely course. Players are challenged with a strategic game rather than one that relies on power at this course surrounded by canopies of oak and pine trees. And if the rest of the course doesn’t impress you, then the last three holes will, especially if you’re finishing your game up around sunset.
Moss Creek Golf (Private)
Moss Creek doesn’t just boast one Fazio golf course, but two. These courses, which opened in the 1970s, were designed by Tom and George Fazio with tight greens. North is a shotmaker’s course with short elevated greens surrounded by water, which make it considered the easier by some. South keeps the tight greens, calling for exact shots, all the while showing off the Lowcountry, sweeping along the Intracoastal Waterway and Mackay Creek. But don’t get too distracted by the beauty because this course can be a beast too.
Oyster Reef Golf Club in Hilton Head Plantation (Semi-private)
This Rees Jones course has a clever layout that challenges golfers with doglegs, strategically located mounds, more than 65 bunkers and winding lagoons. Its signature hole, number 6, gives players a beautiful view of Port Royal Sound and challenges them with breezy winds. The par-3 sixth is the course’s signature hole, but the finishing five are also course favorites.
Palmetto Dunes Golf Courses (Public)
With three golf courses and a resort all to itself, Palmetto Dunes has everything you need for a great golf trip. The scenic Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course will awe guests as they golf on the generous fairways around lagoons, while the narrow George Fazio Course will challenge players with small greens and tight shots, as the tree-lined Arthur Hills Course gets players caught in bunkers. Not only are they some of the most known courses on the island, but Jones is also the oldest and Fazio, the only par-70 on the island.
Palmetto Hall Plantation Club (Semi-Private)
Along with Palmetto Dunes’ own Arthur Hill Course, this golf club offers guests the chance to play on the Robert Cupp Course. This “Hills Course” isn’t actually accentuated with hills, but instead is quite level, creating a challenge for players that aren’t familiar with the course. In addition to hidden bunkers and water hazards, the Hills Course also has several fairways and greens framed with mounting and thick trees that force golfers to shape their shots. The Cupp Course, which opened in 1993, challenges players with straight lines, sharp angles and unusual slopes. It features water hazards on more than 13 holes, over 40 sand traps, rolling fairways and dramatic mounding that carries balls away from their targets. With a good variety of hole designs, the course proves to be tough on the scorecard.
Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club (Semi-private)
With three courses all designed by different golf aficionados, Port Royal challenges golfers in several ways. Barony, which was designed by George W. Cobb, is the most expansive of the three with a special back nine that challenges players with doglegs and interesting layouts. Cobb’s second course, Robber’s Row, which was updated by Pete Dye in 1994, requires accuracy unlike the others, with four par-three holes full of water hazards and greens surrounded by bunkers. But it’s the youngest that proves to be the most difficult at Port Royal. William C. Byrd’s Planter’s Row, which was built in 1984, challenges golfers with very narrow fairways and a landscape unlike the others, with no houses lining the course and water on 10 holes.
Sea Pines might be famous for Charles E. Fraser’s Harbour Town Golf Links, which hosts the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage golf tournament, but there are several other courses to enjoy, including Pete Dye’s Heron Point Course and Sea Pines Resort’s Ocean Course. Dye redesigned the Sea Marsh course and turned it into Heron Point in 2007 by reshaping water hazards and forming new lagoons, while the Ocean Course was renovated by Mark McCumber, who strategically placed lagoons and bunkers to challenge players.
Sea Pines Country Club (Private)
Sea Pines Country Club is the only truly private course in Sea Pines. It was designed Arnold Palmer and Frank Duane in 1960 and revived by Clyde Johnston in 2001 with undulating fairways, bunkered greens and water hazards. It measures 6383 yards, from the longest tees and has a slope rating of 133.
Shipyard Golf Club (Public)
With three nine-hole courses, Shipyard presents a unique round of golf that allows players to choose a combination of courses to create their own 18-hole course. The Clipper and Galleon courses were both designed by George W. Cobb and built in 1970, with Clipper deemed the most difficult because its heavily guarded greens require accurate placement. Williard C. Byrd’s Brigantine Course came in 1982 with water hazards on every hole in addition to the doglegs and well-placed bunkers that create a shotmaker’s course.