Escape to this unforgettable golfing adventure along eastern shores.
By Mona Moore
Photography by John O’Hagan
With rolling green fairways and gentle sea breezes, Hilton Head, South Carolina, offers an ideal way to spend a few summer days—if not a lifetime. The blissful jaunt begins as you cross the Hilton Head Island Bridge, the solitary roadway into the barrier island off the Atlantic. Breathtaking views of the Intracoastal Waterway are interrupted only by the evergreen landscape of Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, where a glimpse of a milky-white egret is as likely as that of a white-tailed deer.
Hilton Head is a resort town tailored to the lifestyle of the golfers who frequent its 23 world-class courses. You can whip into the Harbour Town Bakery & Café for a blueberry biscuit and a freshly made boxed lunch to go, or sit a spell on the patio and relish Doris’s Corned Beef Hash and sweet delicacies under a canopy of palms and moss-draped oaks.
Just across the road, the Harbour Town Golf Links Course has been on the PGA Tour almost since the day Jack Nicklaus codesigned it. The unforgettable view from the 18th hole includes the Calibogue Sound and the Harbour Town Lighthouse, a museum and landmark for the island. After your round, take a leisurely climb up the 90-foot lighthouse and learn about Hilton Head’s rich history from the exhibits and artifacts lining the stairs.
Now that you are on island time, pick up a bicycle at any of a dozen rental locations. Then set a course along the miles of beaches or the Lowcountry isle’s 60 miles of pathways, and see why Hilton Head is one of the top biking communities in the country. Be sure to choose a bike with a basket to hold all the treasures you will find at shops along the way.
At the “ankle” of the foot-shaped isle, you’ll find the legendary Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks. Here at the water’s edge, you can savor the day’s catch as you watch the sunset seem to melt into the still waters of Port Royal Sound.
Taking up one-third of the island, the 5,000-acre Sea Pines Resort has been part of the Hilton Head landscape for more than 50 years. The first ecoplanned resort in the world, Sea Pines was designed to blend into its natural surroundings and 25 percent—roughly 1,300 acres—will never be developed. The grounds include four neighborhoods and accommodations ranging from a newly renovated inn to spacious villa rentals. Each option offers 24-hour room service and access to the clubhouse, library, and fitness center.
Surrounded by waterways, Hilton Head affords countless destinations for boating, cruises, water sports, and scenic views—the best of which is from atop the Harbour Town Lighthouse. Charters will take you on a scientific expedition or offer glimpses of everything from dolphins to minks. Little pirates can even join a crew of scallywags and venture out on the Calibogue Sound.
With more than 20 restaurant and dining options, Sea Pines has something for everyone, from American-French fusion to Lowcountry fare. Enjoy open-air dining and oceanfront views at Coast, and be sure to save room for a frozen treat from the Sweet Shoppe. Then it’s time to hit the links at one of the resort’s three masterfully designed courses. Home of the PGA Tour’s Heritage Tournament, the Harbour Town Golf Links is ranked as the best course in South Carolina and one of the best in the country. The newly renovated Pete Dye Golf Course is a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. The Ocean Course at Sea Pines holds a special place in the hearts of islanders and visitors as Hilton Head’s first golf course.
Many of Hilton Head’s resorts offer complimentary transportation, like the Sea Pines Trolley, a great way to discover shopping and dining destinations across the island. Start with a healthy smoothie and granola at Lowcountry Produce Market & Cafe. In Harbour Town, Knickers provides men’s apparel like Southern Tide and Lacoste, and S.M. Bradford Co. outfits Southern ladies of all ages in island attire.
Snack on A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant’s fried green tomato stack, served with homemade sweet pickles, as you sip iced tea in the shade and listen to live music. Or take in views of Port Royal Sound, and dine on fresh, tender scallops and the peppery, sweet 7 Day Slaw at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks. Before ending your island stay, pick up an authentic Gullah sweetgrass basket, a Lowcountry collectible and beautiful work of art.
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