How to score at Old South Golf Links in Bluffton
BLUFFTON, S.C. -- One of the best things about Old South Golf Links is that it does things its own way.
It has a daily feature in which you "bet" on whether you can hit the green on a particular par 3. If you do, you double your money in the pro shop. The golf course is well staffed, so you'll be greeted quickly at the bag drop, attended to in the pro shop.
The course, with few homes around it, is breathtaking with moss-covered oaks and marsh views. It's just over the bridge from Hilton Head Island.
Water is a common presence here, but it's not overbearing. Clyde Johnston designed Old South, so count on raised fairways, mounds and pot bunkers of turf or sand.
The best features are the many opportunities to rack up pars and occasional birdies. Here's how:
No. 1, par 4: Ignore the water followed by a wall of sand then a tree on the left. The landing area seems pinched between that and a row of trees on the right, but it's mainly an optical illusion. Stay a little left of center for a second shot to the green that is open in front with a single bunker behind.
No. 2, par 4: The goal is to get your drive atop the ridge across the fairway. Then it's a nice little shot to the large green.
No. 3, par 5: There is a lot you have to ignore on this short par 5, so go with your most comfortable clubs, which may exclude a driver. Angles still make it possible to get there in two. Beware the three bunkers set off to the right near the green.
No. 4, par 3: It's farther than it looks, and there is no penalty for being a shade too long. The green slopes from back left to front right, so plan accordingly to get your ball to stop near the pin.
No. 5, par 5: This is another optical illusion with a fairway that looks narrower than it is. Stay just left of center for a nice approach to a 36-yard green nudged up to water on the right.
No. 6, par 4: This is a short hole that requires some gumption at the end to fire at the green. The green backs up to the marsh, so your confidence might be a little shaken. There are some wicked pin placements, so your best bet is to aim for the center of the green.
No. 7, par 4: This is a quirky hole with a small landing area to set up a right turn across water to the green. If you're the adventurous sort, flying the trees to the offset green (between bunkers) is a high-risk-but-fun option.
No. 8, par 3: The difficulty of this hole is paying attention to golf when there is such beauty all around. Pay attention to the wind over the marsh before selecting your club.
No. 9, par 4: This is a submission hole. Place your drive just so -- likely near the 150-yard marker -- and avoid bunkers left and right. From there, hit with confidence a shot to the bunker-laden green. Oh, you have to avoid a single palmetto tree, too.
No. 10, par 4: This is an open hole with a little trick at the green. You have to avoid a large tree directly in front of it. There is more room on the right, so try to stay on that side with your drive.
No. 11, par 3: It's a descent to the green guarded on the right by sand, a wall of mounds left. Wind will likely be a factor.
No. 12, par 4: Trees press in on the left of the dogleg, so keep your drive between them and a bunker right for a shot to the green.
No. 13, par 4: It's a short hole, but the fairway is skinny, and the elevated green is protected by a bunker right in front.
No. 14, par 5: The challenge comes at the end of the hole with twin bunkers about 75 yards in front of the green. There is opportunity on this hole.
No. 15, par 4: On this sharp dogleg right, failing to cut the corner could trap you in a tree-filled gully, so a straight-forward approach is a better plan. There isn't any sand on this hole but lots of mounds and turf bunkers.
No. 16, par 4/3: This is a par 4 for all but the forward tees. It's a great hole that requires a ball over marsh to a landing area, to another marsh carry to the green. The green is large but tiered, so pay attention to pin placement. You'll remember this hole.
No. 17, par 3: A gorgeous par 3 against the marsh. Wind will be a factor for sure, but the green is plenty big enough.
No. 18, par 5: A great finishing hole that requires a marsh carry off the tee and a ditch and waste bunker to avoid toward the green. The large green is elevated, well-guarded and big, so go for the pin.
Make sure you add Old South to your play list next time you're in the Hilton Head area. It's relaxing, friendly and offers some of the best views of marsh and live oaks in the Lowcountry. You truly get a taste of what the Old South was like.