Hilton Head is often referred to as Golf Island and for good reason. The island is home to an outstanding fifty golf courses with a mix of public and private access. Short term visitors are often attracted to public courses because they are open to non-members who need flexibility in the scheduling process. Long term visitors can play through a number of courses while finding their favorites. Eventually, settling on one course or grouping of courses as a member is a good move, especially when returning on a regular basis. In the meantime, play through the world class public courses on the island.
Palmetto Dunes Courses
Multiple courses, affordable rates and oceanfront scenery make this a local favorite. If you want the Atlantic ocean as a backdrop, play the Robert Trent Jones course and take your time playing through the incredible 10th hole. The Arthur Hills course works through a lagoon system and the George Fazio course is ideal for those who like the long game. You really can’t go wrong with any of the courses at Palmetto Dunes.
Sea Pines Resort
The resort is famous for hosting major PGA tour events at the notorious Harbor Town Golf Links but it has several additional courses that are world class in their own rights and also are open to the public. The Heron Point course offers a smooth and somewhat forgiving option while the Atlantic Dunes course offers a serious challenge for any golfer. The Atlantic Dunes was named as National Course of the Year in 2018 and it incorporates natural sand dunes into the course. Players will enjoy the natural surroundings here as all courses are registered as Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries. The bird and wildlife creates a beautiful, dynamic place to play.
Heritage Golf Courses
The diverse range of holes and courses in the Heritage collection makes them very popular with visitors. They are affordable and offer something for everyone while holding their own against many of the other public and private courses on Hilton Head. The Robbers Row course runs through historic civil war grounds and has historical markers to show the significance of the grounds. It also has several fantastic holes with one green that is surrounded by sand and another requiring a drive over the marsh. The Barony Course is another fun design with clean lines that demand focus and consistency. These are both located at the Port Royal Golf and Racquet Club.
The Shipyard Golf Club is also within the Heritage collection, and it offers three distinct courses and 27-holes of play. The Brigantine Course is the newest from 1982 and the classic Clipper and Galleon courses are staples on the island. Lastly, the Oyster Reef Golf Club has a semi-private course with limited public access. Set up tee times well in advance and you won’t regret it. The series of par threes are exceptional, and the scenery is hard to beat.
Golden Bear Golf Club
Known for the great prices, the course itself is also fantastic with greens surrounded by dense forests. For less than a hundred bucks, you can play through a great course that demands accuracy and is exceptional for walking and wildlife viewing. While the price is surprisingly low, the quality of the course and grounds is not lacking. It made the list for America’s Top 100 Courses Under $100 in Travel and Leisure as well.
The Bear Creek Golf Club has a loyal following because it’s a very clean course that plays well for all skill levels with five sets of tees. It’s a par 72 championship course that hosts several high level competitions. It’s another excellent course for walking and wildlife viewing as well with the Audubon Certification and a design that blends into the natural surroundings. If you want something affordable and flexible without sacrificing an ounce of the Hilton Head experience, this is a great course.
Country Club of Hilton Head
This wonderful public course is not to be taken lightly. It is loaded with challenging holes and has been used for U.S. Open Qualifying tournaments because of the technical design. If you want a challenge on a welcoming public course, consider the country club. It has numerous water features and challenging bunkers.