Palmetto Dunes

Palmetto DunesMaybe they ought to modify the name to Palmetto Dunes Resort and University. The highly-rated Hilton Head Island resort has all the amenities you’d expect from Travel and Leisure’s #1 Family Resort in the continental U.S., including five golf coursesall rated at 4-4 1/2 stars in Golf Digest’s Places to Play, three miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront and 11 miles of lagoons and marshes within its 2,000 acres, three world-class resort hotels, a marina and more than 50 shops. 

But let’s simplify that long string of statistics and simply state that Palmetto Dunes is home to so many learning and recreational opportunities you can go back year after year and never make the same trip twice.

Palmetto Dunes Golf CourseTake their golf please. Five completely distinct layouts are named for the architects that molded them on Golf Island. Robert Trent Jones Course matured enough in the first year following its $3 million restoration in 2002 led by RTJ protégé Roger Rulewich to be voted Golf Course of the Year by the South Carolina Golf Course Owners Association in 2003.

Eleven of the Jones’ course’s 18 holes play along and across Palmetto Dunes’ unique 11-mile lagoon system and the memorable par-5 10th is one of only two holes on the entire island to play along the Atlantic shore. Its green was raised during the renovation, providing stunning ocean views.

George Fazio Course was one of the youngest ever to land in the Golf Digest Top 100, despite only having two par-5s. The magic at the Fazio course is in the diabolical series of par-4s. It is actually longer from the tips at a par-70 than the Arthur Hills course is with a par-72.

Tiger Woods will always have a place in his heart for the Hills layout, once telling Oprah the shot he hit at the 13th there when he was a Stanford collegian might have been the best he ever hit. Yet it is fellow Tour pro Bryce Molder who holds the competitive course record with a 60 on a layout where the “dunes” create many off-balance lies. Elevation changes are as dramatic as any on the island and the prevailing ocean breezes always have to be taken into account.

Palmetto Dunes Golf Course Hilton Headm SCAt the adjacent Palmetto Hall Plantation, Hills put more sand, water and trees in play on this graceful masterpiece between the old oaks and tall pines than he did at Palmetto Dunes.

At Palmetto Hall, Hills put his toughest hole first, but his most breathtaking hole last. The 18th at the Arthur Hills at Palmetto Hall, a 411-yard dogleg left par-4 is one to write home about. Yet the four distinct tee positions on each hole make it eminently playable for all skill levels. And if Hills, Fazio and Jones haven’t given you enough variety, try Robert Cupp at Palmetto Hall layout, designed in large part on a computer with straight lines, sharp angles and unusual shapes in his bunkering, mounding, tees and greens. This unique layout does offer tremendous shot values and is fun to play. It might figure that the angular Charles Howell III holds the course record of 64.

But before, during or even after that first round, it might help to ask for former PGA Tour pro and Director of Instruction Doug Weaver at Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy with Doug Weaver. Doug promises to help anyone’s game, from the two-dozen Marines he hosted last fall to the youngsters who attend his Junior Golf Academies. Palmetto Dunes Golf also offers complimentary launch-monitor evaluation for custom club fitting.

Palmetto Dunes Hilton Headm SCWeaver is just one of the many “professors” of resort life at Palmetto Dunes. The tennis center, ranked 3rd in the world by Tennis Resorts Online, has a renowned teaching staff and the latest Nova, Pro-Bounce courts. The re-launched Palmetto Dunes Outfitters offer not only canoes, kayaks, bikes, surfing equipment, fishing gear and beach supplies, but will also teach you how to use it all.

And while the golf, tennis and outfitting centers all carry product lines unique to the Hilton Head area, they’re also service-oriented enough to find you whatever you need, even if, by chance, they don’t have it. They also offer something else unique to the island, the “Palmetto Dunes Buggy” that will transport you to the wonderful variety of restaurants both on and off the plantation.

If you find you’re ready to graduate from all the “how-to” knowledge you receive at Palmetto Dunes Resort, we’ll leave you to solve the “how-come” mystery of why the famed Blue Lady still haunts the lighthouse that sits between the 5th and 15th greens on the Hills course at Palmetto Dunes. It might have to remain a legend until your next visit to the resort named by the readers of Golf Magazine - travelers like yourself - as one of the Top 75 resorts in the United States; Palmetto Dunes.


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