Anyone who has golf-vacationed in South Carolina knows the possibilities range from all-you-can-play smorgasbords in Myrtle Beach to high-end coastal resorts such as Hilton Head's Sea Pines, Kiawah Island and Isle of Palms' Wild Dunes. I've tried them all and, depending on your priorities, there's a deal perfect for anyone, in any price range.
Recently, though, I found a relatively undiscovered "package" that combines luxurious, relaxing accommodations with easily accessible golf - and is just minutes from America's No. 1 tourist city, Charleston.
Call it the "do-it-yourself" golf deal: Patriots Point Links combined with The Cottages on Charleston Harbor, both a quick jaunt across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge from Charleston in Mount Pleasant.
I've played Patriots Point, a spiffy 1990 Willard Byrd design, several times in the past. It's a fun, challenging layout with a signature three-hole finish that features some of the city's most expansive views of Fort Sumter and the harbor - not to mention shot- daunting sea breezes.
But who knew those same idyllic late-afternoon scenes also could be enjoyed while sipping a glass of red wine and listening to the waters lapping the shore, seated in a rocking chair on the screened porch of one of 10 harbor-front Cottages?
Brad Parker, recently named general manager at Patriots Point Links, gets it. "There's a synergy between The Cottages and Patriots Point," he says. "You've got it all in this area: the golf course, the park (including the retired World War II aircraft carrier USS Yorktown and a naval museum), the Charleston shopping - at a fraction of the cost downtown."
What makes it special, though, are The Cottages. Completed in 1998-99, the metal-roofed units - nine are two-bedroom, three-bath bungalows with views of the harbor, while the 10th is one-bedroom, two-bath - are a giant step up from a hotel room. With heart-of-pine floors, full kitchen, large living room, master suite and second bedroom, each Cottage can be a home-away-from-home getaway for one or two couples.
Add three flat-screen TVs, a gas fireplace and even a porch hammock in each Cottage, and you might not want to leave the premises. But then there's Patriots Point, literally two minutes away.
The Cottages do offer golf deals, but only weekdays; weddings and corporate gatherings make up most of their largely booked-up weekend business. "We have a ton of weddings," says Christa Polinski, operations manager for The Cottages, "(but) we don't get a lot of people coming specifically for golf."
That could, and should, change, says Patriots Point head professional Mike Owens. "Ninety-five percent of people who stay in The Cottages and play, come back," he says. "It's a special deal."
The golf course also does weddings in its outdoor pavilion overlooking the harbor. "We book a lot of golfing bachelor parties - the groom plays free," Owens says. In addition to Patriots Point Links, other courses - RiverTowne Country Club, Dunes West, Charleston National - are nearby.
If you can't resist going into Charleston, you can drive or, better yet, take a water taxi to downtown from Patriots Point's marina (across a parking lot from The Cottages). Too, Mount Pleasant can be a nice alternative to the tourist crowds, and can even compete in the "foodie" department.
The Cottages' current weekday stay-and-play package runs $189 per person per night (including golf, breakfast, lunch at the course, a sleeve of balls and bottled water); Polinski says she'd like to get the price down - to, say, $130-$150 - to build traffic. Golf alone at Patriots Point is $55 ("we need to get that lower, too," she says), though extra rounds are free.
If you have the flexibility of visiting on weekdays and enjoy a relaxed, upscale bed-and-breakfast experience with your golf, The Cottages and Patriots Point Links are ready when you are. Call (843) 849-2300 or toll-free (866) 901-2688.