Every fall, golfers by the thousands descend on South Carolina to enjoy great weather and a vast selection of places to play from among the state's 350-plus golf courses. Which is great for the guys - but what about their significant others, even the ones who also play golf?
No worries there. Especially along the SC coastline, there are plenty of options that include golf, shopping and dining, and even the luxuriousness of spa treatments. Choices come in an array of price ranges and locations. If you're looking for the ultimate in challenging play on the course and pampering off the course, you've come to the right place.
The whole world knows about Kiawah Island Resort's Ocean Course, the Pete Dye design famous for hosting the 1991 Ryder Cup Matches and, more recently, the 2012 PGA Championship. Kiawah Resort also has a quartet of companion course: Turtle Point, designed by Jack Nicklaus; Osprey Point, one of the state's top Tom Fazio products; Gary Player's popular Cougar Point; and Oak Point, a creation by SC native Clyde Johnston.
Almost as many lovers of luxury also know about The Sanctuary, Kiawah's AAA Four Diamond beachfront resort hotel, and more and more are discovering The Spa at Sanctuary, which offers a variety of health and beauty services with a local-ingredients emphasis. Visitors to the 12-room spa can treat themselves to botanical extracts, seaweed and mineral-rich mud, and a holistic lifestyle coach is available to offer individualized treatments for stress and enhancing energy. An aqua retreat offers a mineral whirlpool, steam room and sauna.
Spa services also include a Lowcountry verbena body polish, mint julep facial and hot stone massage. For more details, visit KiawahResort.com, or call 843.768.6340.
On the opposite (northeast) side of Charleston on Isle of Palms is Wild Dunes Resort, home to Wild Dunes' Links Course - one of the first solo designs by Tom Fazio - and its companion Harbor Course, also a Fazio product. Wild Dunes offers plenty of accommodations options, tennis courts, pools and fitness facilities.
For a luxury experience, the Mind and Body Essential package includes bike rentals and spa services. Try a grapefruit sugar scrub, ear candling, green tea and honey pedicures or a blueberry-soy slimming body wrap, as well as the favorite, the sweet tea facial. Top it off with a deep-tissue massage for a complete rejuvenation. Visit Wilddunes.com or call 888.778.1876.
Shopping? Charleston is a half-hour or so from both Kiawah and Wild Dunes, and has everything from small shops to malls.
Sea Pines Resort is best known for Harbour Town Golf Links, home to the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, SC's lone annual PGA Tour tournament, but the island is home to nearly two dozen courses, including Sea Pines' Heron Point by Pete Dye and Atlantic Dunes, a Davis Love III design. Sea Pines has a variety of accommodation options, but the ultimate is The Inn at Harbour Town, a European-style boutique hotel overlooking the course's first tee and a Four-Diamond property. Visit SeaPines.com or call 866.561.8802.
The Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa in Palmetto Dunes is an oceanfront property with gourmet dining, three championship courses by Arthur Hills, George Fazio and Robert Trent Jones, and a lavish spa. Voted a Top 500 in the World hotel by Travel Magazine in 2003, the Marriott Resort also offers tennis (25 courts), biking, parasailing and horseback riding. Visit Marriott.com, or call 843.686.8400.
Also on the oceanfront is the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, a 24-acre, self-contained resort with three golf courses (Barony by George Cobb, Planters Row by Willard Byrd and Robber's Row by Pete Dye), plus water sports, top dining and, of course, views of the Atlantic from room balconies. For those interested in luxury, the Heavenly Spa has nine treatment rooms, couples' whirlpool suite, beauty salon, relaxation rooms and steam and sauna. Nearby is the European Spa, with an ocean-side massage. Visit WestinHiltonHeadIsland.com, or call 843.681.1019.
Just west of Hilton Head in the town of Bluffton is one of Jack Nicklaus' premier golf courses, May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff, a course some consider the Lowcountry's best. The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, located on a bend in the May River, offers spa services including a "bath on the bluff," which has a private outdoor veranda overlooking the river, sweet milk and rosebud body scrub, and a warm river stone massage using stones from the riverbed. Visit palmettobluff.com or call 843.706.6500.
Hilton Head also offers all types of shopping, including Tanger and other outlet malls for bargain hunters.
With 90-plus courses along the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach is a golf smorgasbord, but that doesn't mean you can't find a resort/spa experience.
The Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort at Grande Dunes has 405 rooms, most with ocean views, and is adjacent to (though not unaffiliated with) the Resort Course, designed by renowned PGA and US Open designer Roger Rulewich. The Grande Dunes development also has tennis courts, a fitness center, beachfront pool and, of course, a European spa with its own indoor pool and full spa amenities. Visit Marriott.com, or call 843.449.8880.
Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort, located near the Strand's golf-packed south end, are close to three unaffiliated courses: Litchfield Country Club, Willbrook Club and the River Club. Also at the resort are an on-site restaurant serving breakfast and dinner, a Tiki Bar for happy hour and small plate, a fitness center, bike rentals and tennis courts, and the Day Spa with steam room and sauna. Visit Litchfieldbeach.com or call 843.237.3000.
Barefoot Resort, located in North Myrtle Beach, has four of the Grand Strand's top courses by Greg Norman, Pete Dye, Davis Love III and Tom Fazio. There's also a waterfront hotel with deepwater marina and a full-service spa. Visit barefootgolf.com, or call 800.548.9904.
Shopping, like golf courses, is everywhere along the Grand Strand, including a huge Tanger Outlets on US 501. Shop until you drop.