A buddy trip to Hilton Head Island will exceed expectations

By Lisa Allen, Contributor

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- If you and your buddies are planning a golf trip to Hilton Head Island, there are a few things of which you can be assured: You'll play on perfectly maintained courses and receive excellent service at the golf club, your hotel or villa, and in any one of the 250 restaurants on the island.

Hilton Head golf - buddy trips
Hilton Head Island is the perfect destination for golf buddy trips.
Hilton Head golf - buddy tripsHilton Head Island - buddy golf tripsInn at Harbour Town - Hilton HeadHarbour Town golf courseJones Course at Palmetto Dunes - No. 8Inn at Harbour Town

There are a range of options from the reasonable to the dear. No matter what you choose, your group will get far more than you pay for. That's the Hilton Head Island way. Whether you stay at a resort, a beachfront mansion or a cozy villa they can set you up with the ideal combination of golf, dining and other activities. Let them help you -- they are experts at planning the perfect vacation.

Surprisingly, golf prices at some courses are lower in the summer than in the spring and fall. True, it's a little stickier while on the course, but there are plenty of water stations on the golf courses, frequent beverage cart sightings and at the three designer courses at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, your golf cart will have a fan that blows ice-cooled air.

Sea Pines Resort

There are an array of choices at Sea Pines Resort, which occupies 5,000 acres on the southern tip of Hilton Head Island.

Stay two nights at the four-diamond, boutique-style Harbour Inn in the resort, and play two of the resort's three courses for $229-$279 per golfer, per night -- depending on which courses you choose. Or stay in a villa at Sea Pines Resort for three nights. Packages start at $130 per night, per golfer.

The resort also throws in all kinds of goodies and discounts. Many Sea Pines packages offer unlimited golf, each day -- so challenge yourself. I recently met a gentleman who once played seven rounds -- 126 holes -- in one day with a little help from mower headlights.

And these aren't just any golf courses. Sea Pines' Ocean Course, designed by George Cobb and freshened up by Mark McCumber, is one of the island's oldest courses. It's known for wide fairways, straightforward holes and gorgeous scenery.

It drifts over to the Atlantic for a glimpse on No. 15 and is packed with eye-candy, with lots of flowers and moss-draped trees. It's also Audubon-certified, so you'll see bird species you might never have before.

The Heron Point Course is a recent Pete Dye endeavor, opening in 2007. This is shot-making nirvana.

The small, undulating greens will give your putting skills a workout, and the course will toss hazards at you like rice at a wedding.

Then there is the iconic Harbour Town Golf Links, home to the PGA Tour's Heritage tournament for more than 40 years.

It is the 1969 brainchild of insurance-salesman-turned-golf-course-designer Pete Dye, and player-turned-designer Jack Nicklaus. This one should be on your bucket list. It lives at the top of "best" courses lists, no matter who compiles them.

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa understands golf is hard work, so one of its three golf packages include visits to the Heavenly Spa for a massage and a chance to play at one of many designer courses.

The resort is in Port Royal Plantation, putting three tree-lined golf courses -- Barony, Planter's Row and Robber's Row -- just a golf cart ride away.

Packages include any golf course in the Heritage Group, which also includes both Palmetto Hall's Robert Cupp Course and Palmetto Hall's Arthur Hills Course, the 27-hole Shipyard Golf Club and the Rees Jones classic, Oyster Reef Golf Club.

If you would rather play a course not on that list, no problem, the resort can work that out, too.

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort offers villas and homes. Its packages mix up oceanview villas, spas, tennis and $50 gift cards. Prices range from $153 to $250 per person per night.

However, it's a seven-night minimum for peak summer season. The resort's courses are from some of the best designers in the business: the George Fazio Course, the Arthur Hills Course and Robert Trent Jones Sr.'s famed oceanfront course. You can't get any closer to the beach without flip-flops.

These are the courses with the ice-cooled air blowers on the carts.

Palmetto Bluff

This is pure indulgence. Accolades have poured upon the Inn at Palmetto Bluff like rain since it opened near Bluffton in 2004.

Most recently, Conde Nast Traveler put it on the Gold List of places to stay worldwide, and Travel+Leisure slotted it as No. 1 for resort service and its spa. In short, if there is a "best" list, Palmetto Bluff is at the top of it.

But there is more to Palmetto Bluff. Not only is there the inn but an array of cottages and homes. Its golf package for a foursome includes a four-bedroom, four-bathroom West Wilson Village home, a complimentary four-seat golf cart for use throughout the property and daily breakfast at Buffalo's or the River House Dining Room.

There is unlimited, caddie-accompanied golf on the Jack Nicklaus Signature course, the May River Golf Club, accessible only to residents and guests. The course also is awash in accolades.

You are welcome to use the steam room, sauna and whirlpool at the spa. Rates start at $400 per person, per night in low season, $500 during peak season.

In all, there are 24 courses on Hilton Head Island and just about as many "off island." Don't overlook Crescent Pointe Golf Club, designed by Arnold Palmer, or Hilton Head National Golf Club.

As for accommodations, there are countless options in the form of rental villas, homes and resort rooms. There truly is a golf course-lodging option just perfect for you.

Lisa AllenLisa Allen, Contributor

Lisa Allen is a golf, travel and business writer based in Beaufort, S.C. She has edited newspapers, magazines and books in Michigan, Indiana and South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @LAllenSC.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment