Monday, November 4, 2013

On Location: Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

You can kayak and canoe its 11-mile lagoon system, bike its shady paths and jog on its flat, hard-packed 3-mile beach, but Palmetto Dunes on Hilton Head Island (South Carolina) is a golf resort at its core. A sizeable amount of its 2,000 acres is devoted to three championship golf courses.

A wonderland of moss draped oaks, palmetto trees, tall pines and Atlantic Ocean beaches, Palmetto Dunes is an adroitly designed, self-contained, amenity-rich resort that encourages you to quickly get into relax mode.

Golf is the dominant amenity at the resort, but golfers who are also fitness buffs and nature lovers will enjoy the varied recreation offerings.


If you rank Palmetto Dunes' three courses by rounds played, the Robert Trent Jones Course would be number one.

"The Jones Course has the most demand," director of golf Clark Sinclair told me during breakfast at the resort's Big Jim's Restaurant one morning. "but, the Hills and George Fazio are excellent plays as well and they have their own distinct personalities. We take great pride in our course conditioning on all three courses and all offer an exceptional experience. Regardless of the course they choose to play, I don't think they'll be disappointed."

Robert Trent Jones Course--One of Hilton Head Island's most notable courses, this highly ranked gem was originally designed by Robert Trent Jones and later reshaped and restructured by Jones protege Roger Rulewich. The unique design features an amazing lagoon system that comes into play on 11 of the 18 holes. Get your camera out on the par five 10th hole, which has a spectacular backdrop of high dunes speckled with sea oats and the Atlantic Ocean.

Arthur Hills Course--Built on a series of rolling dunes with a fairly constant ocean breeze and water on 10 holes, this layout is challenging, yet playable and enjoyable for mid-handicappers who play the correct set of tees. It plays 6,122 yards from the middle white tees. One of the inspiring features of the overall golf experience is viewing the Historic Leamington Lighthouse, which is located on the course.

George Fazio Course--With its long par fours, this par-70 layout is considered by many as one of the toughest tests on Hilton Head Island and Bluffton. Superbly designed by George Fazio with assistance from his nephew Tom Fazio, this course has innovative bunkering and wonderfully placed water hazards.


One of Palmetto Dunes' great appeals to stay and play golfers are the wide variety of accommodations available. The exceptional rental program features everything from one-bedroom villas to six-bedroom homes.

I stayed in the Queens Grant Villas, which are near the entrance of the resort only a couple of blocks from the Robert Trent Jones clubhouse, General Store and tennis center. Some of the things I liked about my two-bedroom villa were the walk-in shower in the master bedroom, parking space only a few feet from the front door, an outdoor patio with a grill (where Mrs. Guru and I shared a nice chilled bottle of Vinho Verde Portuguese wine one evening after golf), a full-size refrigerator (perfect for storing my Shiner Bock beers) and a fully-equipped kitchen complete with a corkscrew. Other highlights include a community outdoor swimming pool and easy access to bike trails and the beach.

There are a variety of rental villa and home options available with these types of views: Courtyard, golf course, lagoon, marina, near ocean, ocean, oceanfront, pool and resort.


While the golfer in the family is roaming the fairways, spouses and family members who don't play golf have access to a variety of things to do, such as:

Charter deep sea fishing
Inshore fishing
Sport crabbing
Dolphin tours
Nature cruises
Sailing cruises
Bike rentals (on-site)
Private nature tours
Beachfront dining at the Dunes House
Dining at Big Jim's at the Robert Trent Jones Clubhouse
Shopping and dining at Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina (free shuttle bus)
Kayaking and canoeing
Golf academy

10 Little Things I Liked

1. The vaulted ceiling at my Queen's Grant villa.

2. Easy check-in and check-out at the Welcome Center.

3. The General Store near the Robert Trent Jones clubhouse that has just about everything you need.

4. The flat, hard-packed beach that makes it easy to ride a bike, jog or walk.

5. The spectacular, inspiring ocean view from the 10th green on the Robert Trent Jones Course.

6. Clark Sinclair, the affable and helpful director of golf.

7. The excellent tennis center.

8. The resort's location across the street from the Shelter Cove Harbour, a marina, dining and entertainment complex.

9. The beautiful shaded bike trails that weave throughout the property.

10. The Hilton Head Outfitters, the on-site shop where you can conveniently rent bikes, kayaks and canoes at reasonable prices.


Traveling north or south on I-95, take SC Exit 8 onto Highway 278 East. Proceed about 18 miles. After crossing the bridge onto Hilton Head Island, Palmetto Dunes is situated mid-island at mile marker 8. It is best reached by Highway 278 Business (William Hilton Parkway. At the intersection in front of Palmetto Dunes, use the left turn lanes into the resort. The Welcome Center is the first building on the right.

Nearby areas with excellent courses include Bluffton, situated between the Island and I-95 on Highway 278; Beaufort, 25 miles from the Island and Savannah, 31 miles from Hilton Head.

The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is about a one hour drive from Palmetto Dunes (50 miles) and the on-island Hilton Head Airport is six miles from the resort.

Address: 4 Queens Folly Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
Toll Free: 800-827-3006
Local: 843-785-9100


You can customize a golf package by contacting Palmetto Dunes Resort at their website or by calling 866-380-1778. A golf travel company I highly recommend for Hilton Head Island golf packages is Golfpac Travel in Orlando.


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