John Farrell, longtime head golf professional at Hilton Head's Harbour Town Golf Links, speaks for most of his fellow pros when he stresses the importance of growing the game - specifically, by making golf more accessible to youngsters and families who visit the resort island.
"The trend now is for everyone to make an effort to cater to new golfers," Farrell said.
That said, there are a handful of island and area golf courses that do an especially good job of welcoming kids and their parents - by offering specific shorter tees for beginners, providing separate scorecards, lower rates during off-peak hours and, of course, focusing on instruction for all levels of skill and experience.
Farrell, not surprisingly, believes the three courses at Sea Pines Resort are among the island's leaders there, but not the only ones. Here are those who he believes do it well:
Sea Pines courses: Sea Pines' most aggressive outreach to juniors is an instructional program called "Future Stars," where beginners can learn the game under top professionals/teachers. The resort's three courses - Harbour Town Golf Links, Heron Point by Pete Dye and The Ocean Course - also have devoted family tees, family-specific scorecards and reduced rates during the mid- to late afternoon, Farrell said. www.seapines.com, 866.561.8802.
Old South Golf Links: In his eight years here, head professional Jim Uremovich has created a youth-friendly environment. "We have junior tees set up at 2,560 yards and junior scorecards so each kid feels like he has his own thing going," he said. Family specials during the summer begin after 2 p.m. and offer a $118 rate for four family members. In the summer, a 2 ½-hour clinic for youngsters runs $60, and an all-day session, with teaching, lunch and a five-hole practice round, is $75. After-school clinics, are held in spring and fall, 4 p.m.-5:30 p.m., for $25 a session. www.oldsouthgolf.com, 843.785.5353.
Hilton Head National: Head professional Sterlyn Mitchell's Bluffton course offers junior rates of $25-$35 depending on the season, and while the course does not have junior-specific tees, "we make recommendations on where they should play from, depending on age and experience," said Director of Sales Thomas Schultz. A family package, available online, was offered in summer 2013 and likely will be again this summer. Schultz said that families playing together "is quite common in the summer, plus the course has no forced carries, which is a big selling point with beginners." www.golfhiltonheadnational.com, 843.842.5900.