Resort golf is the name of the game for visitors to the South Carolina Lowcountry. And players looking for great deals can hardly go wrong whether vacationing in Charleston - America's No. 1 favorite tourism city - or on beautiful Hilton Head Island.
Both locations offer all the amenities of coastal resort experiences: sand, sun, surf, plus a plethora of golf stay-and-play choices to suit every checkbook and skill set. Here are a few of the best ones.
Looking for a wealth of golf courses in get-away-from-it-all surroundings? Kiawah Island Resort, about 45 minutes from downtown, is the ideal destination. There you'll find wide beaches, a choice of accommodations and restaurants (assuming you don't care to venture into the culinary smorgasbord that is Charleston) and five golf courses.
The choices range from the world-famous Ocean Course - site of the 1991 Ryder Cup and 2012 PGA Championship - to such gems as Jack Nicklaus' Turtle Point, Tom Fazio's Osprey Point, Gary Player's Cougar Point and the off-island Oak Point by Clyde Johnston.
On the opposite side of Charleston lies Isle of Palms, home to Wild Dunes Resort, like Kiawah a self-contained vacation site with beachfront and other accommodations (villas and hotel), plus a duo of Tom Fazio golf courses tucked amidst the dunes.
Wild Dunes' Links Course - renowned as Fazio's first solo design - offers a variety of holes with a two-hole finish along the Atlantic Ocean. The course underwent a pair of renovations/restorations, the most recent fashioning a stirring par-3 18th hole. The Harbor Course offers many of the same water, sand and marshland hazards as the Links.
Charleston Golf Guide, a longtime print and online publication focused on all things golf in the Lowcountry, offers an array of packages incorporating courses on all sides of the city, including the Interstate 26 corridor to the northwest.
A few options, in a choice of prices:
A combination of golf and Charleston's craft beer industry is the "Brews & Birdies" tour. Participants stay at the Holiday Inn Charleston Riverview; play three rounds of golf at any of Coosaw Creek, Dunes West, Legend Oaks, Pine Forest, RiverTowne CC, Golf Club at Wescott Plantation, Stono Ferry and Wild Dunes Harbor; and take a 3.5-hour tour of local craft breweries during one afternoon.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND
When it comes to island golf, Sea Pines - home to Harbour Town Golf Links, host course for the RBC Heritage, South Carolina's lone annual PGA Tour event - is the gold standard. Besides Harbour Town, the 1969 co-design by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, the resort also has its sister course, Heron Point by Pete Dye, and the renovated Ocean Course, a project by Tour veteran (and five-time Heritage winner) Davis Love III.
Accommodations include a variety of resort villas and up to the Inn at Harbour Town, the resort's boutique hotel overlooking the first tee at Harbour Town. Packages are available in many price ranges and lengths of stay.
One of Hilton Head's earliest resorts, Palmetto Dunes offers oceanfront accommodations and three golf courses by architects Robert Trent Jones, Arthur Hills and George (uncle of Tom) Fazio. The Jones Course is the standard bearer, with its signature hole finishing on the beach.
Palmetto Dunes also has a variety of homes and villas, plus in-resort shopping and food choices, and the nearby Shelter Cove Harbour, with its shops, restaurants and marina, plus a selection of water sports and other amenities. Packages are available in a variety of prices and lengths of stay.
With more than two dozen golf courses on Hilton Head or in the nearby Bluffton area, visitors can find plenty of options for stay-and-play vacations. Hilton Head Golf Island is a collection of resorts and courses that has earned accolades from Golf Magazine and Golf Digest, ranking in both magazines' Top 10 destinations for golf.
Packages are available in a variety of prices/length of stay. Examples of packages (subject to change per seasons) include:
The Fripp Island "Ultimate Golf Getaway," with three-bedroom cottages and unlimited play on Fripp's Ocean Point and Ocean Creek courses, plus range balls, special pro shop and dining discounts.
Palmetto Dunes "Birdies and Beer" Getaway, with two-bedroom villas at Palmetto Dunes, golf at PD's three courses, range balls, breakfasts and post-golf beers, plus court time at PD Tennis Center.
The Old South "Par-3 Package," accommodations at the Hilton Garden Inn and golf at Old South Golf Links, the Country Club of Hilton Head, Oyster Reef Golf Club, Hampton Hall Golf Club and the Hills and Fazio courses at Palmetto Dunes.
The Sea Pines Resort "Villa Golf Package," with villa accommodations and golf at Harbour Town and Heron Point, range balls, free Internet access and use of the Sea Pines Resort Fitness Center.
The Heritage Golf Collection "Couples Great Escape Package," with rooms at The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa and golf at Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club, Shipyard Resort, Palmetto Hall Plantation and Oyster Reef, plus spa and other amenities.