HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- For convenience, nothing beats one-stop shopping, even when it comes to golf destinations. That's the case with the Heritage Golf Collection in Hilton Head Island. Not only does the company offer seven different golf courses for all varieties of players, but it also provides great dining, hiking, biking, tennis and other things to do as well as golf packages with some of the island's best accommodations.
That's not to say you shouldn't play any of the other offerings in Hilton Head such as Harbour Town Golf Links or Palmetto Dunes if you get the chance. But Heritage makes for a great baseline (if not all-inclusive) golf vacation. And you could play a different course each day for a week.
Lots of great golf choices
The Heritage Golf courses are located throughout the island, but a good place to start might be the 27 holes at the Shipyard Golf Club, which has a rich and interesting history. The property that this George W. Cobb layout sits on goes back to the early 1700s, when Henry Talbot-Talbird came over from Ireland to start a brick manufacturing operation called "Brickyard Plantation." Later, Samuel Fickling bought the plantation and conducted a shipbuilding operation, hence "Shipyard Plantation."
All three courses -- the Clipper, Galleon and Brigantine -- are oak- and magnolia-lined layouts that demand accuracy over length, with plenty of bunkers, water hazards and smaller greens. And recently, the course laid down new Diamond zoysia greens, creating some of the best putting surfaces on the island. The new greens work better under the stress of the trees' shade and hot summer temperatures. And the courses offer a variety of playing options, including special family tees for juniors and players with low swing speeds.
But while the Shipyard has historical significance, Oyster Reef Golf Club has been a longtime favorite on the island. When this Rees Jones design opened in 1982, the 7,014-yard, par-71 layout was named one of Golf Digest's best new courses in America. The par-3 sixth hole has one of the most dramatic setups on the island, set against the water of Port Royal Sound. The rest of the course meanders around a series of doglegs and hardwoods to well protected, multi-level greens, providing one of the best tests in the collection.
Meanwhile, over at semi-private Palmetto Hall Plantation, you've got your choice of two terrific golf courses, which alternate for member and resort play each day. The Hills Course, designed by Arthur Hills, was built on an old Civil War garrison, the finishing stretch is dramatic, with water coming into play on the tee shot and approach on the par-4 16th and 17th holes before taking on the short, par-5 18th, where players can risk going for the green in two.
Palmetto Hall Plantation's Cupp Course, designed by Robert Cupp (as you might have guessed), opened two years after the Hills Course in 1992. At nearly 7,100 yards from the tips, it features more generous fairways but sharper angles into greens, meandering through wetlands, streams and lakes over a rolling landscape.
And if that wasn't enough, there are the 54 holes of Port Royal Golf Club. The George Cobb-designed Barony Course opened in the early 1960s as one of the Island's first golf venues. Robber's Row, which was originally crafted by Cobb and William Byrd, got a redo in 1994 by Pete Dye and sits on a former Civil War encampment with markers throughout the course. And Planter's Row, designed by Byrd in 1984, has water on 10 holes and is the former site of the Hilton Head Seniors International.
Much more to Heritage Group than golf
Each of the clubs in the Heritage Collection also offers fully stocked golf stores and exceptional dining, but one that really stands out is the new LagerHead Tavern at Oyster Reef Golf Club. Executive Chef Michael Toscano has created a Lowcountry-inspired menu using fresh, regional ingredients sourced from local farmers markets in an atmosphere overlooking the course and often featuring live entertainment. From craft beer to menu selections such as the "Juicy Lucy," a burger infused with cheese, as well as first-rate hospitality and views, this is the place to hang out well after your round.
At Port Royal Golf Club, you can choose from a variety of unique dishes, such as the Blue Crab BLT or the Lowcountry Ruben. At the Shipyard, there's Reflections of the Green (soon to be the all-new Brickyard Pub), where you can enjoy a drink, appetizer or main course indoors or on the outdoor patio. And at Palmetto Hall Plantation, you'll also find a wide menu selection in a relaxed but elegant atmosphere.
In addition, if tennis is also your game, be sure to book some time at the Port Royal Golf & Racquet Club, where you can take a lesson with some of the finest teaching pros on the island or simply enjoy the facility's fully-stocked pro shop and 14 courts (10 of which are Har-Tru clay).
And, finally, the Heritage Group offers a wide variety of stay-and-play packages, which can be customized for short or long stays at resorts such as the Sonesta and Westin Hilton Head Island, where breakfast and ocean views are part of the deal.
You can even add signature courses outside of the Heritage Group, including the famous Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage.
For more information on golf packages, click here.