Island Greens: Coastal Golf Resorts of Hilton Head and Kiawah

Title: Island Greens: The Coastal Golf Haven of Hilton Head and Kiawah

From my personal experience living on The Grand Strand, it’s clear that South Carolina’s golf landscape delivers the kind of beauty that convinces you that there’s no better place to play. Today, we shift our focus to two outstanding golf destinations: Hilton Head Island and Kiawah Island, captivating coastal golf resorts renowned for their beautiful island greens and fairways lined by Spanish moss-draped oak trees.

Hilton Head Island houses several world-class golf courses, but the three favorites are Harbour Town Golf Links, Palmetto Dunes, and the private Long Cove Club. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort, ranked number one in South Carolina by Golf Magazine. Designed by renowned course architect Pete Dye and World Golf Hall of Famer Jack Nicklaus, it’s famed for its iconic candy-striped lighthouse that overlooks the 18th hole. Golfers are treated to views of the Calibogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, making it not just a game, but an unforgettable experience.

However, the allure of Hilton Head isn’t restricted to Harbour Town. Palmetto Dunes houses three distinct courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., George Fazio, and Arthur Hills. Each touts a different style. The Jones course has an oceanfront finish – a rare feature for an East Coast course – while Fazio’s course is often regarded as the island’s most challenging. Yet, if you’re after something thoroughly unique, the private Long Cove Club stands as one of South Carolina’s top-rated golfing showcases. Its impeccable Pete Dye design integrates seamlessly with the natural environment to offer lowcountry charm with challenging play.

Traveling down the coast, a short drive brings us to Kiawah Island, a coastal sanctuary that hosts five championship golf courses. Famous for its stunning Ocean Course, Kiawah delivers panoramic sea views, rolling dunes, and a challenging yet serene golf experience.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a favorite, particularly for championship play. Known for hosting the 1991 Ryder Cup, infamously referred to as the ‘War on the Shore,’ and the 2012 PGA Championship, the Ocean Course ranks among America’s toughest and most beautiful courses. Pete Dye’s design sets the player against the capricious coastal winds, ensuring a complex, gravity-defying experience.

The rest of the island’s courses shouldn’t be overlooked though, with designs coming from golf architecture heavyweight like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Gary Player, and Clyde Johnston. The Turtle Point Course by Nicklaus offers tight fairways, small greens, and water challenges, while Tom Fazio’s Osprey Point, known for its playability, winds through maritime forests and around lagoons. The Cougar Point Course by Johnston excels in wildlife sightings and natural beauty, while the River Course by Player, although private, gives a perfect blend of subtropical foliage and Lowcountry waterscapes, promising a challenging ensemble of golf holes.

An exceptional feature of both Hilton Head and Kiawah is their commitment to environmental stewardship. Both islands have been designated Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries due to their sustainable practices, conservation programs, and mutual respect between their greens and nature. Hence, golfing here also means teeing off surrounded by nature’s splendor.

Beyond golf, both Hilton Head and Kiawah offer an array of coastal pursuits, such as kayaking, biking, tennis, and exquisite coastal dining, making them excellent family vacation destinations. However, their golf offerings, characterized by their stunning island greens, tall oaks, beautiful views, and expert designs, are unequivocally their stand-out feature.

While Myrtle Beach, also known as the golf capital of the world, unarguably has one of the highest densities of top-rated golf courses globally, Hilton Head and Kiawah Island distinctly offer stunning coastal golf resorts where the subtropical South Carolinian environment plays as much a part of the course as sand bunkers and water hazards. Golfers of all levels are beckoned by these layouts and will definitely find their exploits on these courses an astonishing blend of bliss and challenge.

2 thoughts on “Island Greens: Coastal Golf Resorts of Hilton Head and Kiawah”

  1. Randy_the_Bogeyman

    Great article. Been to Hilton Head Island a few times, golfed at Harbour Town Golf Links, and yes, it is indeed an unforgettable experience. The view of the Calibogue Sound on the back 9 is something else. On another note, haven’t been to Kiawah Island yet — been putting it off for some odd reason. Any tips for a first-timer who plans on tackling the Ocean Course?

  2. GreenFairwayKing

    Decent read. Being a South Carolinian and an avid golfer, it brings me immense joy and pride to see the golf courses in Hilton Head and Kiawah receive this kind of spotlight. The combination of natural beauty and classically challenging golf is something I’ve yet to find anywhere else. If anyone’s debating whether to pack their clubs for a visit – don’t think twice.

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