Visiting The Golf Island – Hilton Head Island

A Well-Deserved Moniker

There are lots of golf destinations in the US, but only Hilton Head Island calls itself “The Golf Island.”  On roughly 69 square miles, there are over 23 golf courses, a ratio that’s hard to top.  What we discovered on our recent visit is that more than just quantity, Hilton Head Island golf offers tremendous quality and variety.  And there’s a lot more to HHI beyond the golf.

Hilton Head Island waterway

Where to Stay

Whether you’re looking for a base of operations or a resort that you never have to leave, Palmetto Dunes is a strong choice.  First, they have lodging options for every size group regardless of your preferences.  Within this sprawling resort, there’s a Marriott hotel as well as condos and houses of all sizes to rent.

Palmetto Dunes is also home to a wide variety of dining and entertainment options.  In addition to three golf courses, there’s a tennis and pickleball center and a marina.  My favorite non-golf activity was taking in the sights and following the waterway on bicycle.  When you’re hungry, choose from four restaurants, all without leaving the property.

Learn more about Palmetto Dunes HERE

Hilton Head Island food


One of our local guides – themself a transplant – shared with us that Hilton Head is unique because no one is from there.  This is a major boon for the dining scene, because people from all over bring their regional cuisines into this melting pot.  Furthermore, you won’t find a lot of chain restaurants on HHI.  This makes dining on your vacation more fun and adventurous.

During our trip, we gorged ourselves at three excellent restaurants.  The first night we ate at Alexander’s at Palmetto Dunes.  The focus here is on local seafood and wine, and both were outstanding.  Our second dinner was at the new Quarterdeck at Sea Pines.  Located next to Harbour Town’s iconic lighthouse, this restaurant blends beautiful views of the Calibogue Sound with a fun, casual feel.  The final night of our trip was spent at Red Fish.  All the meals were great, but most agreed that we ended on a high note.  Red Fish has an award-winning wine list and a menu full of Lowcountry specialties.

Hilton Head Island coast

What to Do

Our visit was golf-centric, but the list of other options left us eager to come back without our clubs.  First and foremost are all the water activities.  There are miles of beaches where you can laze, stroll, or get active with boats, paddleboards, or other vessels.  The waterway at Palmetto Dunes is ideal for cruising in a kayak.  Fishing charters are also a major attraction.

Cycling is also a big part of the Hilton Head Island life.  This compact island has just one major road, making it easily navigable on two wheels.  Bike trails are as prevalent as roads.  Whether you cruise around your resort or the entire island is up to you.

Finally, tennis and pickleball have become key attractions.  Whether you’re a new player trying to learn the basics, a regular trying to find a friendly match, or a competitive player looking to win a tournament, you can find it here.

Hilton Head Island - Harbour Town


Finally, we come to the main event: golf.  Our first round was at the island’s most famous course, Harbour Town [review HERE].  Located at the Sea Pines resort, everything about the Harbour Town experience is top shelf.  Your appreciation for the skill of Tour players can only grow once you play on these narrow fairways and small greens.

For our second round, we traveled to the Palmetto Hall Arthur Hills Course [review HERE].  This course immediately demonstrated the wide range of golf on the island.  The fairways here are wider and the greens much larger.  It’s a solid track to add to your itinerary if you’re looking to make a couple birdies and enjoy a balanced test.

Finally, we played a “home game” at the Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes [review HERE].  This track gave us another completely different golf experience, all while driving just a few miles.  This is classic RTJ design requiring bold shots from the tee, approaches that dodge enormous sand traps, and crafty putting.

Our trip to Hilton Head Island was packed to the gills, but it barely scratched the surface of what they have to offer.  We’ll no doubt be back soon to check out some of the 20+ courses that we missed our first time through.

Matt Saternus
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