Palmetto Hall Dynamic Duo Joins Heritage Collection

The renowned Arthur Hills and Robert Cupp at Palmetto Hall are coming out of hiding. Still tucked away at the north end of Hilton Head Island, these two gems have long been considered the Island’s best-kept golf secrets, the kind o experience you had to go looking for to find.

But with the recent acquisition of the Palmetto Hall Plantation Club by the Heritage Golf Group, the pair now have seats on the front row. Obviously bullish on Hilton Head Golf, Heritage purchased Oyster Reef Golf Club, the three courses at Port Royal Golf Club and the 27-hole Shipyard Golf Club just 18 months ago. Adding Palmetto Hall, Heritage can now offer 135 holes of golf, and at least that many options for residents and visitors to the Golf Island.

To answer the most frequently asked question, yes, you can still play either of Palmetto Hall’s award-winning layouts. The rotation of courses between members and daily fee players is not being changed. The growing membership at Palmetto Hall will be serviced by a Heritage group recognized for its stellar private club operations as nearby as Atlanta National, White Columns and Polo Golf and Country Club in Atlanta. But Heritage is also committed to taking the Palmetto Hall experience to the “next level” for first-time guests as well as frequent visitors to their storied 36-holes.

“We like to build on the rich tradition and history each of our clubs has established over the years,” says John Hungerford, Heritage Executive Vice President of Operations. “All of our clubs are different, just as all of our courses are unique, and we fully intend for them to retain their separate identities. But then we like to add what we call the ‘Heritage Touch’ that distinguishes the experience at our clubs from any other.”

You’ll begin to see that difference when you pull up to the reception area of any Heritage club, where you’re welcomed by what they like to call their “Bobby Jones”. The greeter, clad in traditional plus-fours, acts as your concierge for the day, doing a lot more than just getting your bags on the right cart. He’ll set the tone for your round, offering directions and likely a word of encouragement as you embark on your golf odyssey. You’ll notice the golf shop staff can be more attentive to your personal needs because they likely don’t have a phone to one ear taking tee times, thanks to a centralized, off-site reservation system. And you’ll likely find them smarter about the apparel and equipment they offer, a unique emphasis of the company’s product knowledge training program.

While Heritage likes to brag about its people being the difference, these are “golf people” and as Hungerford likes to remind everyone at his courses, “If the greens aren’t great, it won’t matter how good the hamburger is at the end of the round.” Course conditioning is still at the top of the priority list at every Heritage club. “Detailing” will be an immediate focus for the two Palmetto Hall courses that are in “like new” shape already, coming out of extensive refurbishments from the summer of 2005. Both of these Golf Digest 4-Star specials were re-opened in September with new Champion Bermuda throughout, their huge greens restored to their original design, the irrigation systems’ upgraded and the overall playability raised to an all-time high.

And both of these courses were already at the top of their games. The Arthur Hills Course was a Golf Magazine “Top 10 New Course in America” when it opened in 1991. Its towering pines and moss-draped oaks frame lush fairways of a challenging set of par-5s, and a group of unrivaled par-4s. The 420-yard (from the blue tees) par-4 first is the course’s #1 handicapped hole, but for sheer beauty and inspiration, the signature 18th, just a few yards shorter but wrapping around a gorgeous lake that threatens the tee and approach shots, is hard to top anywhere on Hilton Head Island.

Unique is the simplest term to describe the Robert Cupp Course. The former GolfWorld Architect of the Year computer-generated many of his uncommon design features in this layout that opened in 1993. With angular edges on many of his greens, bunkers and berms and water in play on 17 of the 18 holes, the Cupp Course is one of the Island’s hardest from the 7079-yard tips (75.6 rating/149 slope), and still a stout test from its blue tees (72.3/135), but is eminently playable from the 6042-yard white tees.

The Palmetto Hall courses join Oyster Reef at the top of the “must-play” experiences in the Heritage collection, if you don’t let your ego get in the way. The strategic bunkering and mounding around the greens of this 1982 Rees Jones classic thoroughly examines your short game from its 6,100-yard white tees. Step back to its 6440-yard blues or 7005-yard gold tees and you’re challenged to hit tee shots through narrow chutes of tall Carolina pines, with no parallel fairways to snag your errant shots. The signature sixth hole, a treacherous par-3 with stunning views of Port Royal Sound might still be on your mind until you deal with the finishing fivesome of holes that give Oyster Reef its bite. And now your pre-and-post-round activities are enriched through $200,000 in improvements to the clubhouse.

For playing three 18-hole layouts out of the same clubhouse, you’ll be amazed at the diversity in the trio at Port Royal Golf and Racquet Club in Port Royal Plantation. The 1963 George Cobb-designed Barony might be the most player-friendly, providing generous fairways and large greens, but with the presence of water on 14 holes, also offers many risk-reward decisions in between.

Cobb also designed the Robbers Row layout, updated by Pete Dye in 1994. Your scenic and historic drive through majestic stands of magnolias and live oaks draped with Spanish moss takes you over the grounds of Fort Walker, a Union outpost during the “War of Northern Aggression” as some long-time residents still refer to the Civil War. The Planter’s Row design of Willard Byrd that played host to the Champions Tour’s Hilton Head Seniors International back in the mid-80’s features narrower fairways and smaller, even more undulating greens than the other two courses. There’s plenty more going on at Port Royal, from croquet to a nationally-recognized tennis center. And its southern-style clubhouse that even plays host to murder mystery dinners is being modernized through the transition by Heritage Golf.

Long a tourist favorite, Shipyard Plantation possesses all of the island’s natural beauty, and some of its beasts. Wildlife is visible throughout the plantation and the parking pass even comes with a warning not to feed or provoke the alligators, something you’ll understand as you play your way around this terrific trio of tight 9-hole layouts. Water is in play on 25 of the 27 holes, but improved course markings and advice from the traveling course ambassadors can help you negotiate this shot-makers paradise.

George Cobb designed the Clipper and Galleon nines through large oaks and tall pines to well-bunkered, Champion Bermuda greens and Willard Byrd’s Brigantine nine, opened in 1982, will test your short game over and around a hazard-filled layout. Among the winners when Shipyard hosted the Hilton Head Seniors International in the mid-1980s were pro legends Miller Barber and Lee Elder.

The addition of the two Palmetto Hall Plantation courses gives Heritage Golf Group unprecedented options in creating multi-day, multi-course packages for resident or visiting golfers. They can even take care of the details of your entire vacation though nearby resorts, some with shuttle services to deliver you to and from the courses. For tee times and package information, you can visit www.hiltonheadgolf.net or call 800-2-FIND-18. Unrivaled golf, uncompromising service. Expect nothing less from a group that takes pride in each and every one of its courses, and treats the courses, and its players, with a care reserved for long-term relationships.

 

 

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