With 24 championship golf courses open to the public, Hilton Head Island and the surrounding areas provide one of the country’s most popular year-round golf destinations and lots of opportunities for groups.
According to the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Visitor and Convention Bureau, golf has been a Lowcountry tradition since Scottish immigrants to South Carolina organized America’s first golf club in 1786, and seven of the area’s courses have been ranked among the nation’s top 100 in key golf publications. Following is a sampling of options.
Sea Pines Resort (843.842.1488; www.seapines.com) has 54 holes of championship golf. It is home to the RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Heritage tournament, South Carolina’s only PGA Tour event, held at its Harbour Town Golf Links since 1969.
Traditionally, the tournament has been held the week after the Masters, which takes place April 9 to 15 this year. This is the first year with RBC as the title sponsor. (Verizon ended 24 years of sponsorship following the 2010 tournament.)
Pete Dye designed Harbour Town Golf Links with assistance from Jack Nicklaus. The two other courses at Sea Pines are Heron Point by Pete Dye, reopened in 2007 following a Dye-designed remodeling, and the Ocean Course.
“There are not many places where people can play on a PGA Tour course,” says John Farrell, head golf professional at Sea Pines. “People are cost-conscious. We try to give added value and to exceed expectations. We have clinics, tournaments and exhibitions with professionals. Golf groups are treated like members for the day.”
In addition to Sea Pines’ two conference centers and other event space, two notable meeting spaces at Harbour Town Golf Links are the Heritage Room, which is a VIP meeting room, and the Champions Ballroom, seating 320 for banquets.
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort (843.785.1106; www.palmettodunes.com) also has 54 holes of championship golf and can handle groups of up to 400 players. Its three courses are the Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course, where the 10th hole is one of only two oceanfront holes on the island; the George Fazio Course, the island’s only par-70 course and regarded by many as its most challenging; and the Arthur Hills Course, where precision play is important.
According to Michael Royer, group sales manager at Palmetto Dunes, corporate golf outings are typically 85 to 140 people, and golf buddy groups are smaller, with 16 to 20.
“We get a tremendous amount of golf group business, much of it repeat,” he says.
The resort can offer air-conditioned golf carts and Segway Personal Golf Transporters, and it has a golf academy with a variety of programs, customized golf clinics and group instruction. Some of the most popular group programs are shotgun tournaments, Segway Shoot Outs, “Birdie Ball” target contests, Closest to the Pin/Longest Drive competitions and Glow in the Dark Golf.
Meetings options include the tennis facility’s Center Court Conference Center, accommodating 150.
Palmetto Hall Plantation (843.342.2582; www.palmettohallgolf.com) features 36 holes of golf, with courses designed by Robert Cupp and Arthur Hills.
It is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, and it also has a 14,000-square-foot, antebellum-style clubhouse with meeting and event venues and space for breakout sessions.
Palmetto Hall Plantation’s two courses are part of seven Heritage Golf Collection courses on Hilton Head. Heritage operates 21 private and resort courses nationwide. The group’s other five on Hilton Head are Oyster Reef Golf Club, Port Royal Golf Club’s Barony, Planter’s Row, Robber’s Row and Shipyard Golf Club.
Country Club of Hilton Head (843.681.2582; www.hiltonheadclub.com) is located just inside the back gate of Hilton Head Plantation, the island’s second-largest planned residential community.
It features an 18-hole, Rees Jones-designed course and a clubhouse that includes an indoor pool, a 5,500-square-foot fitness center, and casual and fine dining.
Groups can take advantage of Country Club of Hilton Head’s corporate golf outings and tournaments, team-building programs and variety of meeting and event space in private rooms with views of the fairways.