PGA TOUR players decompress from the year’s first major by setting their sights on Hilton Head Island and the 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, including Masters Champion Jon Rahm, defending champ Jordan Spieth and 29 of the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings.
Easy like Sunday morning access, a postcard-ready setting, and a nationally ranked golf course have always been the keys to attracting a top-notch field. And in this case, 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.
What’s more, 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 the RBC Heritage gets underway Thursday, here are a few golf-focused fun facts to chew on as you plan your next golf trip to “Hilton Head, America’s Golf Island.”
The Sea Pines Resort
In the golf haven that 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.
On Island Golf Courses
Hilton Head Island is a mere 69 square miles. It’s known as “America’s Golf Island” for a reason, diminutive size aside. 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.
Off-Island Golf Courses
Hilton Head Island is actually an integral part of a macro golf destination that extends east to I-95 and north to historic 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 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.
World-Class Cuisine + Watering Holes
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.
For more information on golf, lodging, dining and transportation, visit www.hiltonheadgolfisland.com.