Hilton Head, ‘America’s Golf Island’ Set to Shine with Elevated RBC Heritage

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It’s that time of year, yet again. PGA TOUR players will blow off the stress and steam from playing in the year’s first major by heading to Hilton Head Island, S.C., to peg it in the proverbially peppy RBC Heritage on Harbour Town Golf Links at The Sea Pines Resort. And this year, as a “designated event,” it boats its strongest field in decades, one including Masters Champion Jon Rahm, defending champ Jordan Spieth and the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings.

Easy access and a surreal (and chill) setting have always been part of the Heritage Classic Foundation’s secret to attracting a top-notch field. Hilton Head Island is an easy 130 miles from Augusta National, a quick private jet flight for the world’s greatest golfers. The RBC Heritage also has a longstanding reputation as the most laid-back, kid-friendly, and flat-out enjoyable stop on the PGA TOUR.

So, there’s that.

But more importantly for the have-clubs-will-travel crew consuming this golf travel yarn, the golf-rich atoll is under a half day’s drive from major metro areas like Atlanta and Charlotte. It’s also served by two award-winning airports, Hilton Head Island Airport and Savannah/Hilton Head International. Nearly 40 golf courses are spread around the island and sprinkled off-island in Lowcountry communities like Bluffton, Beaufort and Okatie.

As you kick back and enjoy the RBC Heritage this week and weekend, here are a few golf-focused fun facts about “Hilton Head, America’s Golf Island” to contemplate as you plan your next golf trip.

There’s More Than One World-Class Golf Course at The Sea Pines Resort

For those who live in the Carolinas, The Sea Pines Resort rests upon a revered pedestal along with Pinehurst Resort, America’s version of St. Andrews. But many out-of-staters aren’t aware that the prestigious property is home to not one, not two, but three championship golf courses. Of course, there’s Harbour Town (designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus), but there’s also Heron Point by Pete Dye and Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III. With daylight savings time kicking into full gear, it’s the optimal time of year to play 36 holes a day at the “house that Charles Fraser built” on the island’s south end.

Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III

And There’s More Than One Multi-Course Resort on the Island!

The exclamation point is a journalism no-no. But in this case, it’s warranted. Hilton Head Island is a mere 69 square miles. But hey, it’s dubbed “America’s Golf Island” for a reason. There are four multi-course resort properties within just minutes of each other: The Sea Pines Resort, Palmetto Dunes Resort, and Heritage Golf Collection’s Palmetto Hall and Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club. Palmetto Dunes houses three excellent 18-hole tracks designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., George Fazio and Arthur Hills, Palmetto Hall features two 18-holers from Hills and Robert Cupp, and Port Royal lays claim to Robber’s Row and Barony.

George Fazio Course at Palmetto Dunes

“America’s Golf Island” is More Than Just an Island

Ok, let us explain. As mentioned above, Hilton Head Island, proper, is part of a macro golf destination that extends east to I-95 and north to bucolic Beaufort. As you head off the island, Old South Golf Links is the first intervening golf opportunity, a wonderfully crafted, links-like tract designed by local golf course architect Clyde Johnston. And a mere five-iron away is Hilton Head National featuring nine holes designed by Gary Player and nine from Bobby Weed, an often-under-appreciated Dye protégé. Several other solid picks along the U.S. 278 corridor round out a multi-day golf trip. Hidden Cypress, Argent Lakes and Island West Golf Clubs are five minutes from the I-95 exit. And time permitting, make the trip to Parris Island to play the Legends Golf Course on the famed Marine Corps base.

Old South Golf Links

Dining Options Abound Around Golf Island

Sure, in the grand scheme of things, food quality takes a back seat to quantity for many “grab-the-guys-and-go” golf trips. But here’s a not-so-tightly kept secret about America’s Golf Island – the amazing isle and its surrounds are a culinary destination for foodies and restaurant critics from throughout the U.S. and around the world. Fresh seafood abounds, ranging from Redfish, Flounder and Grouper to oysters, shrimp and crab. There are also seemingly limitless options for landlubbers, spanning burgers, steaks and chops to hand-tossed, brick oven pizza.

Shane Sharp

Shane Sharp is a longtime golf writer based in Greenville, S.C. In addition to running his content marketing business, Southbound 4, he's a regular contributor to GOLF Magazine, Golf Inc., Club Management and other golf magazines and websites.

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