Daufuskie Island Resort & Breathe Spa

Daufuskie Island ResortWhere do Hilton Head Islanders go to get away from their own little piece of paradise? To the place that is what Hilton Head used to be. A place with the same kind of Lowcountry beauty that has drawn vacaioners to this corner of the world for the last five decades, without all of the growth that has come with it. No highways, no cars, no noise. Yet quite a bit to do, including the most decorated golf courses any side of Harbour Town.

Welcome to the Daufuskie Island Resort and Breathe Spa. What makes Daufuskie a “destination” resort (you can only reach it by boat from Hilton Head Island or Savannah) is what makes it the destination for spectacular golf and amenities like the world-class Spa, outdoor activities like tennis and horseback riding, and pristine white-sand beaches where you can stake claim and likely not see anyone, or hear anything, except the lapping of the waves from the Atlantic Ocean. Among its many accolades, Golf Digest has rated the resort among the “Top 50 in North America” and the Melrose and Bloody Point golf courses are on the “Top 50” or “Must Play” lists of South Carolina Magazine and Golfstyles of the Carolinas. 

But Daufuskie Island Resort is more than plaques on the wall. To say the golf is worth the boat trip alone is an understatement. The Daufuskie Island - Melrose Course, one of the few Jack Nicklaus Signature courses available for public play, was originally designed to be a private golf retreat when it opened in 1987. Today’s players are challenged by a linksstyle design featuring smaller target greens and Nicklaus’ love for diversity in his shot options. Oh yeah, and a finishing threesome of holes along the Atlantic Ocean that is as breathtakingly beautiful as it is rigorous.

The first five holes are a particular challenge, three completely different length par-4s, a mid- range par-5 and the longest par-3 on the course, the #9 handicapped fifth hole. The sixth, seventh and eighth are supposed to provide a bit of a respite, except that #7 has water in play down the entire left side and the short 136-yard-from-the-tips par-3 eighth plays completely over water. While the final three holes along the Ocean get the ink, the toughest hole at Melrose is the long par-5 ninth, with a tee and green on one side of a wide creek, and the fairway on the other, forcing a tee shot and approach over the same body of water.

Daufuskie Island ResortTwo testy par-4s precede the shortest, but still not likely reachable par-5 12th on the backside. The inland 13th, 14th and 15th are actually handicapped tougher on the card than the final three ocean holes, but it’s that finishing stretch that’ll have you talking about your Daufuskie golf experience for months to come. The par-3 16th wraps 60-yards worth of tees around a pond with a waste-area carry to the green. The par-4 17th takes you right out to the Atlantic, around a waste area protecting your ball from the “real” beach. And the 18th? Ever heard of a signature hole with an exclamation point? A par-5 measuring 560 yards from the tips, you’ll finish with a decision to make on which side of the split fairway to play around a collection of Scottishstyle dunes and bunkers, to a green that sits on a small peninsula jutting right out into the Ocean.

Nicklaus calls Melrose “an uncut jewel with oceanfront, salt and fresh water marsh, live oaks, mature pines and magnolias. All we had to do was set a golf course in there and the end result was a design that tests the better golfers but is playable and enjoyable for all, a truly memorable golf experience.”

One thing that can make it even more memorable is to play 36, pairing Melrose with the acclaimed Daufuskie Island - Bloody Point Golf Course on the southernmost tip of the island. The Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish collaboration that opened in 1991 is only 6900 yards from the tips, but is nearly 6500 from the blue tees with five of the par-4s at 400-plus yards. Two of the par-5s, the ninth and 15th, will are tantalizingly reachable and the par-4 10th will tempt you to try to drive it. But the most talked-about features (besides the winding green that serves both the 12th and 14th holes and the bunker in the middle of the 18th green) are the ones provided by Mother Nature. Scenic coastal marshes, dark lagoons and views of the Intracoastal Waterway are prevalent as 13 of the 18 holes have water inplay. There are no cart paths, and you’ll feel like you’re taking a nature hike while viewing the bald eagle’s nest on the 7th hole and the Osprey’s nest on the 15th.

An advantage of Daufuskie’s seclusion is that the courses are usually not too crowded, making pace-of-play a non-issue, allowing that 36-hole excursion to avoid being a dawn-to-dusk battle, though the ferry ride back at sunset is worth the trip in itself.

The sunset ferry also makes playing a single round in the aftenoon a worthwhile venture for your golf group, or for couples where one wants to play and the other wants to be pampered in the exquisite Breathe Spa. The massages, skin and body treatments, hydrotherapy and the highly personalized and uncomplicated approach create a unique, customized spa experience. The Breathe Spa even offers sports massages for those who want to mix their golf with a spa adventure. Customization is the key to the Daufuskie Island Resort and Breathe Spa experience. Proof of the quality of that experience is as simple as two words, Ritz Carlton. The West Paces Hotel Group has taken over the reins of the resort, under the direction of the legendary Horst Shulze, the man who made the Ritz Carlton name synonymous with service excellence.

Two other words apply to the operation of Melrose and Bloody Point- Troon Golf. Troon is now the largest operator of courses in the world, and they’ve put their vast knowledge and reputation for customer service to work here.

Daufuskie Island isn’t just a couple of great golf courses and a world-class spa. It’s also a surprisingly spectacular family resort. Two and four-bedroom beach cottages, the 52-room Melrose Inn, three-bedroom oceanfront villas and even a pair of 5-bedroom vacation homes are available on the island. A beach club and fitness center, four restaurants, a fully-staffed tennis center, an equestrian center with just about every type of horseback activity, and kids activities through Camp Calibogue offer great alternatives. There’s always something to do, including absolutely nothing.

With complete catering facilities available through the Inn or the two golf courses, Daufuskie Island Resort loves creating unique events for business groups or charities and their Stay and Play packages will entice you to extend your visit to add some of their many amenities to your golf excursion. A Lowcountry golf trip isn’t complete without dedicating a day to Daufuskie, the getaway that’s only a short boat ride away.
For more information, call 843-842-2000, toll free at 800-648-6778, or visit www.daufuskieislandresort.com.


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