Love the long ball? Let 'er rip on these Hilton Head golf courses for big hitters
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Hilton Head has done its duty and built several golf courses that exceed 7,000 yards. It isn't all fun and games, mind you. Given the island's preponderance of trees and some tight doglegs, some holes keep you from letting it rip, come what may. Still, the length is there, so if you just got a new driver and that puppy's just yearning to run free, here are some romper rooms for the big-hitting crowd.
Oyster Reef Golf Club is a classic. Classic Hilton Head Island, classic Rees Jones.
Dating back to 1982, this 7,000-yard-plus course has earned accolades ever since, consistently showing up on "best" lists for the country and South Carolina.
Jones didn't go for lateral bunkers, but specific bunkers right where one might drift. Sometimes, he puts them across the fairway, other times around the green. It's a golf course where one must execute the shot one has committed to. Distance alone isn't enough, but also whether that ball spends most of the journey in the air.
The course is fraught with risk-reward doglegs and splays out to 7,018 yards from the tips, 5,288 up front, with two middle tees in the mix.
If you're near the end of your round and you're thinking, eh, this wasn't so bad, you haven't gotten to 17 and 18 yet, two awesome par 4s that require two lengthy shots just to end up in the same area code as the green.
Those holes are an endurance test that will make that drink at the 19th hole, oh, so much sweeter. Big hitters, bring it on.
Robert Cupp made no bones about it: His Palmetto Hall golf course is for long hitters, no matter which tee set one plays. It's not silly long, but strategic. Hit it long or be wet, either off the tee or into the green.
It's that way around the course. For example, on the par-5 second hole, the fairway is halted by water 240 yards from the green. From the back tees on number 3, it's 240 yards, minimum, before your ball will find dry earth. There are more than a handful of tees just like it. The back tee for the ninth hole hangs out by itself near the eighth green. Between that tee and the fairway is a sizable pond, leaving no doubt whether you hit as far as you say. If you can't launch a long one, move up one tee set. There's nothing to be ashamed of, every set is brutal. It's up to you though. Do you want to golf, or go fishing? On this course, play the wrong tees and it's going to be the latter.
The Pete Dye-designed Heron Point course at Sea Pines Resort barely made the list because of the accuracy demanded of all hitters. You might notice the length elsewhere, however, and wonder if it was omitted. So here it is, but with caveats.
This is one of Dye's latest works and he emptied his bag of tricks on this one. This golf course is thick with hazards, from single trees blocking out an approach, to nearly fairway-length waste bunkers or water. The greens vary in size and are wildly undulating, so plan to put your approach in the postage-stamp-sized sliver of green denoted by the pin-placement number. If you love to grip it and rip, and happen to possess robotic accuracy, this has the yardage for driver, long iron to the green. For the rest of us, shorter clubs we hit more consistently are the ticket. A bogey on this course is a badge of honor, no matter what your handicap.
Located in Bluffton, just a short drive from Hilton Head Island, Hampton Hall one of the longest tracks around. The allocation is consistent. Every hole is long and wide, with 200-yard par 3s, 450-ish par 4s and 500-plus par 5s. It's a roomy golf course in all respects, with nearly all of the trouble at the greens. Along the way, is waist-high Bermuda if you go far askew and large, deep bunkers if your calculations are just slightly off. It's a Pete Dye design, so the greens are undulating and surrounded by sand and/or collection areas. Even at the front tees, this course is long (5,329 yards).
If you like to boom a drive, then boom a second shot, this is the place. However, your score might rack up if you can't keep your approach shot on the green. That's where Dye has his fun with you.
April 5, 2010