Coastal South Carolina and coastal Georgia are home to many of the country’s top 100 private residential golf communities, as rated by Links magazine. From Sea Pines to Savannah Harbor, the area is ripe with lush greens just waiting for hackers.
Two of the most iconic and most visited historic towns in the U.S., Savannah and Charleston, draw millions of tourists, and Hilton Head Island does pretty well, too. Many play golf while visiting, and some decide they want to retire to the Lowcountry. The mild climate, dramatic marsh vistas, live oaks, palm trees and the availability of vast tracts of affordable land all favored development of high-end residential communities centered around golf.
On Hilton Head Island, Sea Pines was one of the first and, at that time, most innovative planned golf communities on the East Coast. Visionary developer Charles Fraser worked with talented planners, architects, landscapers and builders who eventually branched out on their own. They continued to apply the knowledge they acquired during these pioneer years, and the results can be seen today in upscale golf communities throughout the island, in Bluffton and in Northern Beaufort County.
Here are 25 top golf communities close to home.
BELFAIR: Bluffton, SC
East Course — Par: 71, Yardage: 6936
West Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 7111
Featuring two courses considered to be among noted designer Tom Fazio’s best work, Belfair’s two tracks provide championship golf with completely differing personalities. The East is reminiscent of a Scottish links course, while the West, the original home of the Players Amateur, accentuates the best of the Lowcountry and features one of the finest finishing holes in the area.
843-757-0715 | www.belfair1811.com
BERKELEY HALL: Bluffton, SC
North Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 7148
South Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 7254
Berkeley Hall claims to be the lowest-density private club in the Southeast with an average of 5.3 home sites per hole. The result is a tranquil setting that allows designer Tom Fazio’s work to shine. The North Course features elevation changes that are rare in the Lowcountry, while the South’s tree-lined fairways and contoured green complexes provide a different type of challenge.
Phone: 843-815-8444 | www.berkeleyhallclub.com
CALLAWASSIE ISLAND: Okatie, SC
Dogwood Course — Par: 36, Yardage: 3501
Magnolia Course — Par: 36, Yardage: 3564
Palmetto Course — Par: 36, Yardage: 3443
Callawassie Island has a unique setup with three nine-hole courses, all designed by Tom Fazio. The Dogwood Course features beautiful marsh vistas, the Magnolia Course puts even the longest hitters to the test, and the Palmetto Course requires a strategic approach to avoid ample water hazards.
843-987-2125 | callawassieisland.com
CHECHESSEE CREEK CLUB: Okatie, Sc
Par: 70, Yardage: 6641
Although it opened in 2000, Chechessee Creek Club feels like a throwback to a bygone era of golf. The Ben Crenshaw-designed course is short by today’s standards, rewarding strategic shot-making over pure power, and the secluded setting nestled among mature pines and live oaks evokes a nostalgic feel.
843-987-7000 | www.chechesseecreekclub.com
COLLETON RIVER: Bluffton, SC
Dye Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 7403
Nicklaus Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 7085
Colleton River’s two championship courses are consistently rated among the best in the state, and the club also features a nine-hole par-3 course. The links style of the Dye Course might make a golfer think they’re playing the British Open if not for the Lowcountry weather, and the Nicklaus Course features a stunning stretch of holes on the back nine, finishing on a peninsula flanked by the Colleton River.
843-836-4400 | colletonriverclub.com
CRESCENT POINTE: Bluffton, SC
Par: 71, Yardage: 6773
The only public course in the area designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer, Crescent Pointe features wide fairways and challenging approaches to elevated green complexes. Gorgeous marsh views and live oak, pine, and magnolia stands give the layout a distinctly Lowcountry feel.
843-706-2600 | www.crescentpointegolf.com
DATAW ISLAND CLUB: Northern Beaufort County, SC
Cotton Dike Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 6787
Morgan River Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 6657
Both of Dataw Island’s championship courses — Tom Fazio’s Cotton Dike Course and Arthur Hills’ Morgan River Course — have been renovated in the past seven years, elevating the profile of one of the Beaufort area’s finest golf communities even higher. Almost every hole on the Cotton Dike Course is flanked by marsh or Jenkins Creek, while massive stands of live oaks on the Morgan River Course reward accuracy and execution.
843-838-3838 | dataw.com
FRIPP ISLAND: Northern Beaufort County, SC
Ocean Creek Course — Par: 71, Yardage: 6586
Ocean Point Course — Par 72, Yardage: 6556
You can’t go wrong with either course on Fripp Island, both of which features breathtaking views of the island’s natural beauty. Ocean Point came first in 1964, designed by noted Augusta architect George Cobb, and was renovated and modernized in 1996. Davis Love III and Paul Cowley worked together on Ocean Creek, which opened in 1995 and features sweeping views of salt marshes and plenty of wildlife. Private and available to resort guests.
843-838-1558 | www.frippislandresort.com
HAIG POINT: Daufuskie Island, SC
Par: 72, Yardage: 7,380
Only accessible by boat, Daufuskie Island is home to Haig Point Club, which uniquely features 29 holes of championship golf. The club’s Rees Jones signature course has 20 holes – golfers have two options at Nos. 8 and 17 — and has landed on plenty of “best of” lists, including an appearance on Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 in the World.” The Osprey Course is a par-36 track that is perfect for getting in a quick nine.
843-341-8155 | haigpoint.com
HAMPTON HALL: Bluffton, SC
Par: 72, Yardage: 7503
One of the most playable of renowned designer Pete Dye’s works, Hampton Hall features an open design that is accessible to golfers of all experience and skill levels. Five sets of tees stretch from 4,454 yards to 7,503 from the tips, and the par-4 18th is one of the area’s best finishing holes.
843-815-8720 | www.hamptonhallsc.com
HILTON HEAD LAKES: Bluffton, SC
Par: 72, Yardage: 7300
The newest 18-hole championship course in the Lowcountry, The Golf Club at Hilton Head Lakes is designed to accommodate players of all experience and skill levels. The Tommy Fazio design plays a whopping 7,300 yards from the tips but has four other sets of tees, as well as a par-3 course and a full-service practice facility. Public.
843-784-5253 | hiltonheadlakes.com
HILTON HEAD PLANTATION: Hilton Head, SC
Dolphin Head Golf Club — Par 72, Yardage: 6606
Bear Creek Golf Club — Par 72, Yardage: 6804
Oyster Reef Golf Club — Par 72, Yardage: 7014
Country Club of Hilton Head — Par 72, Yardage: 6919
Three of Hilton Head Plantation’s four courses are the work of noted designer Rees Jones, including the challenging layout at Country Club of Hilton Head, which has hosted a pair of U.S. Open local qualifiers. The exception is Dolphin Head Golf Club, a Gary Player design renovated by local architect Clyde Johnston in 2010. While the Country Club of Hilton Head is a fully private club, the plantation’s other three courses are semi-private, offering memberships as well as tee times to the public.
843-681-8800 | hiltonheadplantation.com
INDIGO RUN: Hilton Head, SC
The Golf Club — Par: 72, Yardage: 7110
Golden Bear Golf Club — Par: 72, Yardage: 7014
Indigo Run features two Jack Nicklaus designs – the private Golf Club and the semi-private Golden Bear Golf Club. The Golf Club was the first course Nicklaus designed with his son, Jack Nicklaus II, and has a throwback feel reminiscent of Augusta National or a traditional U.S. Open venue, as well as a state-of-the-art practice facility. Golden Bear favors strategy over strength, with ample bunkers and water hazards requiring smart shot-making.
843-689-7300 | indigoruncoa.com
LONG COVE CLUB: Hilton Head, SC
Par: 71, Yardage: 7094
Another Pete Dye masterpiece, Long Cove Club is consistently rated among the state’s best courses and was recently named No. 19 among Goflweek’s Top 100 Residential Courses in the U.S. The beautiful setting among live oaks, towering pines, and salt marsh vistas is matched by the caliber of play required to conquer the course, which is why it plays host to the annual Darius Rucker Intercollegiate featuring the nation’s best collegiate women’s teams.
843-686-1070 | www.longcoveclub.com
MOSS CREEK: Hilton Head, SC
Devil’s Elbow North — Par: 72, Yardage: 6510
Devil’s Elbow South — Par: 72, Yardage: 6878
Two of the Lowcountry’s older courses, the Fazio designs at Moss Creek don’t play as long as some of the more modern tracks, but they are just as challenging. The longer Devil’s Elbow South Course provides plenty of trouble for golfers to contend with, as well as tight greens that demand accuracy. The North Course is short and tight with elevated greens that amplify the importance of the short game.
843-837-2229 | mosscreek-hiltonhead.com
OLDFIELD: Okatie, SC
Par: 72, Yardage: 7142
Greg Norman’s first design in the Lowcountry blends perfectly into Oldfield, which is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Wildlife such as alligators, cranes, and fox squirrels are common on the course, which demands golfers use every club in their bag. The back nine is especially challenging and offers plenty of risk/reward opportunities like the 12th, a short par-4 that is reachable from the tee for the bold.
843-645-4624 | oldfield1732.com
PALMETTO BLUFF: Bluffton, SC
Par: 72, Yardage: 7171
May River Golf Club’s Jack Nicklaus signature course is one of the area’s most challenging layouts, thanks to elevated greens that test the short game. The setting is unmatched, winding through centuries-old live oak forests and along the banks of the splendid May River, and the course conditioning is always impeccable.
843-706-6580 | palmettobluffresort.com
PALMETTO DUNES: Hilton Head, SC
Arthur Hills — Par 72, Yardage: 6,918
George Fazio — Par: 70, Yardage: 6873
Robert Trent Jones — Par: 72, Yardage: 7,005
Palmetto Dunes features three of the ,area’s finest courses, and all are open to the public but are in top-notch condition usually reserved for private clubs. The Robert Trent Jones Course probably is the most famous, in large part because of the view of the Atlantic Ocean from the par-5 10th. The George Fazio Course is one of the Lowcountry’s most challenging, featuring only two par-5s. The Arthur Hills Course is the community’s best-kept secret, a rolling layout with dramatic elevation changes.
(843) 785-1136 | palmettodunes.com
PALMETTO HALL: Hilton Head, SC
Arthur Hills Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 6918
Robert Cupp Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 7079
Whether you’re looking for a traditional layout or a modern, quirky course, you can find it at Palmetto Hall. The Arthur Hills Course is classic Lowcountry golf, forcing players to navigate tree-lined fairways and avoid bunkers to reach the greens. The Robert Cupp Course is one of the most unique and innovative designs in the area that provides a fun test for every golfer. Semi-private.
843-342-2582 | palmettohallcc.com
SEA PINES RESORT: Hilton Head Island, SC
Harbour Town Golf Links — Par: 71, Yardage: 7099
Atlantic Dunes — Par: 72, Yardage: 7010
Heron Point — Par: 72, Yardage: 7035
Sea Pines Country Club — Par: 72, Yardage: 6383
The father of Hilton Head golf, the Sea Pines Resort is still the grandaddy of them all. Harbour Town, home of the RBC Heritage, is the highest-profile of the four championship courses within the resort, but Pete Dye oversaw a recent renovation to make Heron Point more player-friendly, resulting in South Carolina Course of the Year honors in 2015, and Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III was voted the national Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners’ Association last year. While the three resort courses are open to the public, Sea Pines Country Club is private.
843-842-8484 | seapines.com
SPRING ISLAND: Okatie, SC
Par 72, Yardage: 7135
Opened in 1992, Old Tabby Links was designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay to play off the rugged natural environment of Spring Island. The course weaves through nature preserve and feels more like a pastoral setting than a private residential club. A 2012 restoration project renewed the course’s strategic value by widening fairways to offer alternative angles of attack.
843-987-2200 | www.springisland.com
WEXFORD PLANTATION: Hilton Head, SC
Par: 72, Yardage: 6913
Originally opened in 1983, Wexford underwent a major renovation by legendary golfer and designer Arnold Palmer in 2011. The redesign opened up the course and created more strategic options to reach the challenging green complexes. The new layout combined with immaculate conditions have landed Wexford on Golfweek’s Top 100 Residential Golf Courses list each of the past four years.
843-686-8810 | www.wexfordplantation.com
THE FORD PLANTATION: Richmond Hill, Ga.
Par: 72, Yardage: 7409
The luxurious community features a Pete Dye signature course that the legendary designer recreated in 2014. The course is more playable than some of Dye’s diabolical creations, but the greens are still a challenge for the experienced player. The front nine plays like a parkland course, while the back nine is a links style layout where the howling wind can play havoc.
912-756-2742 | fordplantation.com
THE LANDINGS CLUB: Savannah, Ga.
Marshwood Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 6904
Magnolia Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 6891
Plantation Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 6837
Palmetto Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 6941
Oakridge Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 6603
Deer Creek Course — Par: 72, Yardage: 7094
Savannah’s largest club gives members access to six private 18-hole championship courses, including two Arnold Palmer designs (Marshwood and Magnolia) and two Arthur Hills tracks (Palmetto and Oakridge). Tom Fazio’s Deer Creek Course is the site of the new Savannah Golf Championship Web.com Tour event.
912-598-8050 | landingsclub.com
SAVANNAH QUARTERS: Pooler, Ga.
Par: 72, Yardage: 7066
Savannah Quarters features a top-notch Golf Learning Center, and the Greg Norman signature course has hosted big events such as the NAIA Women’s Golf National Championship. The course is long enough to test the best players, but with six sets of tees it can accommodate everyone from beginners to pros.
912-450-2700 | savannahquarters.com