My wife’s birthday is in Mid-August and we decided to go on a little 4 day golf getaway to celebrate. Yes, I am lucky enough to be married to someone who loves golf nearly as much as I do! We had a few golf destinations in mind, but ultimately decided on Hilton Head as it is a pretty short flight from New Jersey and had some great deals. Some might think, South Carolina in August, are you crazy? Well, yeah, it was in the mid 80s…not so bad, but the humidity was insane. And here I thought it got humid in New Jersey…yeah right…when they say 100% humidity..they mean it.
There are a lot of choices on Hilton Head Island itself, but we decided on the Sea Pines Resort as we both really wanted to check out Harbour Town Golf Links. Sea Pines also offers a ton of other amenities like a ton of beach access, bike trails, restaurants, tennis courts, fitness center, pools and it’s just plain beautiful. We were both really happy with our decision to stay at Sea Pines.
Harbour Town Golf Links – Scorecard
Play in the footsteps of legends. Reserve a round on The Sea Pines Resort’s world-famous Harbour Town Golf Links. Home to the Verizon Heritage Tournament, this distinguished PGA Tour golf course places a premium on finesse, imagination, and shot-making rather than strength. Put your game to the ultimate test — against a collection of par-threes ranking among the world’s finest and a par-four 18th hole considered one of the most feared in all of golf, particularly when the wind is blowing off Calibogue Sound. The crowning achievement of famed designer Pete Dye, this celebrated PGA golf course is a true test of the game of golf.
Absolutely brilliant course design. That is the first thing that comes to mind when I think back on our time on Harbour Town Golf Links. I really could play that course a million times and not get bored. I must have played the course in the various Tiger Woods video games..and playing the course in ‘real-life’ was a pretty neat experience. I found myself remembering a lot of the course from the video game…bunker placement, iconic shapes, doglegs, etc. One thing that was vastly different was the fact that the real course really makes you feel a little claustrophobic. Those huge Carolina Pines draped with Spanish Moss really crowd the fairways and make the tee shots seem extremely tight.
The greens were difficult to read and being a North East player, trying to read Bermuda grain was a challenge as well. Thankfully we had the service of a forecaddie, Doug, who was extremely helpful at reading the greens as well as finding those occasional (occasional right…) errant tee shots. Any non-members of Harbour Town are required to take a forecaddie. It will end up costing you at minimum suggested tip of $25 a person…but that is just a bare minimum. Given how much those guys work, they deserve a lot more than that!
I certainly did not have the round of my life, but I did par #14, the iconic little par 3 nestled in the Carolina Pines. The pin was tucked back and to the right, so the water was certainly in play. Hit a nice little iron to the middle of the green and two putted my way out of there! Same went with #17, the par 3 that heads out to the Calibogue Sound. Most of the course is a little inland and protected by the large trees. This was the first part of the course where I actually noticed some wind off the Sound. Couple that wind with the huge bunker looming in front of the green, and this hole was pretty intimidating. The pin was tucked back and left, just past the bunker on a real tight area of the green. I just managed to get on the front/middle of the green and it released up toward the hole a bit. Just missed the birdie putt and left with another par. #18 was a different story…dead into the wind and played VERY long! I still had about 200 out on my second shot…which I proceeded to hook into the marsh. Whoops! Double was not such a wonderful way to end my round on Harbour Town!
All in all it was a great experience on a remarkable golf course. If you have the chance to get out to Hilton Head do not pass up the opportunity to hit up Harbour Town. As a nice little perk the greens fee includes a little ‘goodie bag’ that includes some tees, a Harbour Town ball mark, a little divot tool and a yardage book you can use on the course and take home. So make sure you check that out before you go buying any of that stuff in the Pro Shop!
After a multimillion-dollar reconstruction project, The Sea Pines Resort is pleased to introduce Heron Point by Pete Dye. Designed by legendary course architect Pete Dye, Heron Point is nothing short of a modern work of art, the centerpiece of any Hilton Head Island golf vacation. Fairways have been reshaped into dramatic angles and shifting elevations — while surfaces are a mixture of sand, mulch, limestone, and different grasses offering a kaleidoscope of appealing color changes. As the second Hilton Head Island golf course at The Sea Pines Resort designed by Dye, Heron Point lives up to its prestigious reputation with challenging new features.
We were scheduled to play Heron Point on our first full day in Hilton Head. Unfortunately on Thursday, Thursday night and a good part of Friday morning it absolutely poured. There was a huge amount of water dumped from the heavens and when we woke up Friday morning we figured our 9am tee time would be canceled. Turns out it was, but they called us back around 11 and let us know that the course was open. Given that we were leaving on Sunday and needed to get 3 rounds in, we really had no choice but to head out and get a round in.
We arrived at the course, with nasty looking clouds in the sky and puddles all over the place, but were determined to get our round in. I was a little worried about the condition of the course…if this happened at home, no way I would be able to play. Checked in with the starter and we were off to the first tee very quickly. I am standing on the first tee, and there is a large pond behind you (if you are a righty), I take a look over and notice an HUGE alligator swimming around. Ok…little disturbing, but as it would turn out, he wasn’t the last gator we saw. Tee box was in pretty good shape, did not seem too saturated with water. Hit my tee shot, little left of the fairway, head on down there…and wow…the fairway is pretty decent. The drainage on this course is absolutely amazing. If you are headed to Hilton Head, and it is rainy, keep this in mind when you choose a course to play.
On the 6th hole, a lengthy par 5, my wife hit her second shot into a bunker that bordered another decent sized pond. We started driving up toward the ball, and noticed the single that was playing in front of us walking from his cart toward the bunker with a camera in hand. Hunh? We take a look over and low and behold a huge alligator is lying in the grass between the bunker and the pond not 10 yards from my wife’s golf ball. Needless to say we gave her a free drop!
Much like Harbour Town the course is full of tall, mature Carolina Pines draped in Spanish Moss. That’s actually a big theme in Sea Pines in general. One thing that was different was I felt like a lot of the obstacles put on this course were just put there with little thought. There were tons of moguls littering all sorts of areas. Bunkers seemed to be added at random. I don’t know, I mean it was a difficult course, but I felt like if I had played the course a couple times I would be able to put up some decent scores. In that regard, it was quite different than Harbour Town.
Would I play the course again? I might drop this one and check out some of the other courses on the island next time around. However, it is certainly worth a check if you are staying at Sea Pines, and especially if you get some discounted tee times or the round is included in a package with your stay.
As the first course built on Hilton Head Island, the Ocean Course at The Sea Pines Resort embraces the true coastal golf experience. Exquisitely rebuilt in 1995 by Mark McCumber, this breathtaking Hilton Head SC golf course poses delightful challenges to novices and veterans alike. Put your game to the test against a classic design, featuring strategically placed lagoons and bunkers. As a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary course, this esteemed Hilton Head Island SC golf course is a fabulous experience for both scratch golfers and high handicappers.
On our last day in Hilton Head, we started the day with an early tee time at the Ocean Course. Turns out, as we expected, this was the easiest of the courses on our schedule. Probably would have been to play this course first, however, based on the package we picked at Sea Pines we needed to play the Ocean Course on a Sunday.
One thing you will notice about the ‘Ocean’ Course is that you really can only see water from one hole. And on that hole, really only from the tee box. It’s the hole pictured above, a nice, lengthy par three that played even longer as you were hitting into prevailing winds off the water. Otherwise, you are looking at relatively flat fairways, a good amount of water and a fair number of bunkers. Certainly nothing like the huge number of bunkers at Heron Point. If you can play this course first on your trip to Hilton Head it should serve as a nice warm up/introduction to Hilton Head style golf course. Overall it was in good shape, offered a nice challenge and we had a great time.
If you are looking to fly to Hilton Head you have a few options. We chose to fly into Savannah, Georgia (SAV), rented a car and then drove to the Sea Pines Resort. The drive took about 45 minutes, not bad, and you will definitely want to have a car to get around and explore the rest of the island anyway. The other option, should you live near a Delta or US Airways hub is the regional airport on Hilton Head Island itself. We ended up going to that airport to exchange the rental car at one point, and wow, it is quite possibly the nicest, most laid back airport I have ever seen. Granted, I have not been to a ton of airports that small! One other option we had considered was flying into Charleston, SC (CHS) and then driving down the coast to Hilton Head. However, that is a 2 and a half hour drive and really did not fit into our schedule very well.
Where to Stay
With luxuries befitting the finest boutique hotels of Europe, with a distinctive Scottish heritage, The Inn at Harbour Town offers a unique variety of first-class accommodations within The Sea Pines Resort. Experience the intimate atmosphere of this AAA Four-Diamond Hilton Head hotel within the resort’s 5,000-acre estate. As a delightful alternative to the private villas and vacation homes that make up the resort’s extensive accommodations, The Inn at Harbour Town welcomes you to enjoy the finest amenities. Highly coveted in-room features are matched only by our personal butler service — ensuring you the devoted attention you truly deserve. The experience continues with views of the world-class Sea Pines Racquet Club or legendary Harbour Town Golf Links. As an elite benchmark for the surrounding Hilton Head Island hotels, The Inn at Harbour Town beckons you to its landmark setting.
As part of our Sea Pines golf package we chose to stay at The Inn at Harbour Town. Given that it was my wife’s birthday we decided it would be best to be somewhere we could be a little pampered and have direct access to breakfast options. If you want to save a little cash, you can choose to take a package that includes accommodations in one of the Villas at Sea Pines. The Villas can be a great option for a larger group looking for a multi-bedroom place to stay as well.
If you do choose to stay at The Inn at Harbour Town, first thing you may notice is that all the employees are wearing kilts and seem to have British accents. We decided to ask one of the women working there about this. Turns out they all are on internships there from various schools in the UK. Makes sense. It was an interesting touch. Most important, we were always made to feel as if we were the top priority of the people working at the Inn. We utilized the concierge service on several occasions to do anything from make dinner reservations to ask about bike rentals to booking a sunset dolphin cruise. (Side note here, if you have time, take one of the sunset cruises that leave from Harbour Town, simple amazing…here is a snapshot of a sunset we saw on the trip.)
That wraps up our little trip down to Hilton Head Island. We really had a blast for such a short trip. The major tourist season on Hilton Head Island is the summer time, and we were told the island calms down a little in the spring and fall. If you are okay with humidity and some heat, it is a great time to visit especially if you love the beach. Otherwise if you are looking for a little cooler weather, but still want to golf, check out Hilton Head Island in the spring or fall.
If you have any questions about Hilton Head, drop a comment here I will do my best to help answer it!