Golden Bear Golf Club - Hilton Head

Golden Bear Golf Club at Indigo RunIt can be argued that Jack Nicklaus never quite surpassed Arnold Palmer in terms of popularity, even though he eventually eclipsed Palmers success in professional golf. Before he earned the nickname the Golden Bear, Palmers faithful, known as Arnies Army chided the pudgy 22-year-old by calling him ‘Fat Jack’ at the 1962 U.S. Open held at Oakmont Country Club just outside of Pittsburgh.

But as Nicklaus brought a magnificent power game to the forefront of golf, and denied his opponents again and again with clutch putts and impenetrable concentration, he earned a more distinguished nickname -The Golden Bear.

One of the hundreds of courses created by Nicklaus’ design firm, but one of the few to bear his most recognizable nickname, the Golden Bear Golf Club at Indigo Run has a character all its own, featuring a variety of holes winding masterfully throughout the pristinely elegant Indigo Run community that routinely require more thought than muscle.

No. 2 for example, a 551-yard par-5, and the longest on the course, begs temptation to cut the first corner, likely sending the ball into water hiding on the left. Then, there’s the approach shot - a very well-protected green which should give pause to the seasoned golfer before going for that birdie.

Golden Bear doesn’t set out to be “tricky”, but on every par 4 and par 5, look for the second shot to require a twist in strategy From the tee on No. 5, a 373-yard par-4, the green extends well into the lagoon on the left. And although the fairway is generous, one could easily end up with the lagoon looming ahead of the green on the approach shot.

Upon reaching No. 6, those generous fairways have suddenly become decidedly more diminutive, yet the green is large. Now the task is straight and narrow - especially with a lagoon running down the entire right side-to cover the 444 yards to the flag.

By the turn, the realization will have hit home that Golden Bear is an honest, traditional test of golf. No. 13, a 423-yard par-4 brings that realization to bear even more so. An abrupt dogleg left with a tight fairway requires the best tee shot of the day. And the well-guarded green – a fortress of bunkers and trees – demands an accurate approach shot. A birdie, even par, is a challenge, but no an impossibility…testament to the character of Golden Bear.

The finishing hole, a 527-yard par-5 showcases every desirable quality of the course – natural beauty, tradition and challenge. The 18th is a double dogleg, left then right, before squaring off with a lagoon and a well-bunkered green framed by large pines and sprawling, moss-veiled oaks. However, upon reaching the green, at least one decision has already been made – you’ll be back to play Golden Bear again.

The staff at Golden Bear knows that the game of golf is so much more than a compilation of great golf holes, and begins your experience with a warm welcome, closes with a fond farewell, and intersperses many magical moments of hospitality in between. It’s a philosophy mirrored on the course, in the plush comfort of the clubhouse, over food and drinks at Just Jack’s Grille, and is completely unlike any other golf experience you’ll have.

Some golf courses are known for a sensational signature hole. Some for the challenge they present, and others for the sheer beauty of the locale. If strategy and finesse are what attract you, if you’re given to a competitive streak, or if you simply enjoy an easygoing round in a beautiful landscape of woodlands, water and sand, try your hand at Golden Bear Golf Club at Indigo Run. The ideal combination of all of the above, on an island noted for exceptional golf, Golden Bear is a “must play” course among Islanders and visitors.

You’ll find no bone-shattering holes on Golden Bear, but you’ll earn every par you make.


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