Ten reasons to take your next golf vacation on Hilton Head Island
Even from those high standards, it's improved even more with age. Here are 10 reasons to pack your clubs and go.
1. It's the golf, silly
There are two dozen public golf courses on Hilton Head Island alone, plus 17 more just over the bridge. One pretty much trips over golf courses, and the best part is there isn't a slacker among them.
Each was designed by someone from the A List, from Arnie to Zoeller. It's an irresistible roster: Byrd, Cobb, Cupp, Dye, Fazio (George), Hills, Johnston, Jones (Robert Trent and Rees), Love, McCumber, Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Weed and Zoeller.
From the famous Harbour Town Golf Links that hosts the PGA Tour's annual Heritage tournament, to the lesser known but just as sharp Oyster Reef Golf Club, there is a course to suit every player. And every one of them maintains resort-grade conditions.
2. Ahhh! Spas
The spas here are some of the best in the business. For example, the Spa at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff is one of the few Four Star Forbes Spas in the country and earned the top 2010 spa award from Travel+Leisure magazine.
Heavenly Spa by Westin features a massage using heated golf balls. Gimmicky but certainly unique. FACES Day Spa also earns attention from national magazines and can pamper you from head to foot.
3. Beaches -- Miles of them
There is 12 miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront on Hilton Head Island and every conceivable way to enjoy it, from walking, biking, boating, sailing, kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding or lazing.
4. Accommodations for everybody
With all of the fun available, you're going to have to get a little rest at some point. That's what makes Hilton Head Island great. It has everything from resorts to villas to hotel rooms to oceanside mansions. There are 6,000 choices. Really.
5. You can arrive by yacht, mate
There aren't many golf destinations with such nautical resources. Hilton Head has six marinas with a couple that can handle boats to 100 feet. (Much longer, and we'd have to call them ships.)
You'll immediately recognize the candy-cane-striped lighthouse that guards the Yacht Basin at Harbour Town. Cameramen love that icon.
6. Let the party begin
From family fare at Shelter Cove Marina and the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina to the Jazz Corner and top-40 bands that perform somewhere almost every night, your toes will be tapping.
Check out the Big Bamboo Cafe -- where you'll think you're on the set of "South Pacific" -- or the "Barmuda Triangle," a cluster of bars near South Beach. Whatever your musical tastes and whatever the hour, Hilton Head and Bluffton have just the spot for you.
7. Catch your own dinner
With marinas come fishing boat charters. Take advantage of them to hook anything from tarpon, shark and redfish to trout or whiting. There are too many species to list.
Whatever you land, many restaurants will cook it for you. Or you can stay ashore and gather crabs or oysters or check out the Bluffton Oyster Co., one of the few commercial oyster harvesters left.
8. Whatever you're hungry for, Hilton Head has it
Do the math. Hilton Head Island is less than 15 miles long, and it has 250 places that serve food, from restaurants to shrimp shacks to pubs -- more than 16 places per mile on average.
Ask around, everyone has a favorite, whether you're looking for haute cuisine at Robert Irvine's Eat! or classic Southern fare at Roastfish & Cornbread.
9. Great weather
Yes, it gets a little chilly in the winter, but you can still golf comfortably. It gets a bit steamy in the summer, but there is a beautiful sea breeze that makes even the hottest days bearable.
It rains sometimes but usually in the form of brief summer afternoon thundershowers. Last time a hurricane hit Hilton Head? 1896. No matter what season, there is little standing in the way of your round.
10. This is the South
What that means is lots of history, from the Gullah culture to former rice and indigo plantations to scores of Spanish-moss-draped oaks that have been here since the days of galleons. Hilton Head Island and Bluffton also retain that laid-back, tropical atmosphere that makes for the perfect golf vacation.
So remember, if you order iced tea here, it will be sweet, and if you tee it up, it will be on a perfectly maintained, world-class course. That's why Hilton Head Island is a "10" for a golf trip.