Hilton Head golf on a budget? Affordable tee times are possible if you know where to go

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

BLUFFTON, S.C. - Reports of the demise of affordable golf in Hilton Head are not greatly exaggerated. Roll into town come mid-March and early April and you aren't likely to find anything under $100. This situation can be avoided, however, if you pick your spots carefully.

"You can get a good rate down here, but it depends on where you are staying, where you are playing and what time of day and year," says Hilton Head-based golf course architect Clyde Johnston. "It is like Myrtle Beach, every course has a different rate structure. On the island, an $80 green fee is pretty common even in the offseason."

During the spring season - roughly defined as the first of March through the first of May - rates can skyrocket above $150 and in the case of Harbour Golf Links, $250. But a bevy of off-island courses offer sub-$60 rates during the summer and winter shoulder seasons that make affordable golf a reality in this Lowcountry haven.

Golf courses in Bluffton

"There are some really reasonable places to play in Bluffton," says Dawn Payne, marketing director at Rose Hill Golf Club [Editor's note: Rose Hill Golf Club closed down in January 2006]. "Sometimes you have to do a little research and other times you'll see advertisements at the gates to the course. It is pretty competitive."

Ironically, Johnston says that the proliferation of upscale private courses along the Highway 278 corridor has led to lower rates at local daily fee and semiprivate venues.

"The private courses take some of the golf away, because they offer you the chance to come down and play their course if you are remotely interested in purchasing some real estate," he says. "It's hard to turn down a free round at Berkeley Hall or Belfair."

When the "real estate speculation" comes to an end, however, it is back to the public tracks for most locals and visitors. So where are the deals? A number of courses in Bluffton and the surrounding area feature p.m. rates that dip below $60. According to Payne, Rose Hill has been targeting local play with one of the lowest rates around.

"We have been doing a special where they can pay $45 in the morning and get a cart, range balls, and lunch," she says. "That goes to $35 in the afternoon and then we have a twilight rate after 2 p.m. of $22."

And golfers who haven't played at Rose Hill lately will be pleasantly surprised with what they find. The West Nine on the 27-hole Gene Hamm designed course was upgraded last year with Champion Bermuda greens, a new irrigation system, and a series of bunker improvements. The East Nine is slated for renovation beginning in May and the South Nine will go under the knife next year.

"We know that some people have an opinion of this course based on the way it used to be," Payne says. "But we are a totally different experience now and this rate is designed to get golfers in to check us out."

The price is right at Island West Golf Club

Another affordable local course on the rebound is the Island West Golf Club, designed by Johnston and gregarious Champions Tour member Fuzzy Zoeller. The 18-hole track in Bluffton offers a morning rate of $59 and an afternoon rate of $39. Since opening in 1991, Island West has battled some conditioning issues. But Johnston says that the course's tee boxes, fairways and greens are usually in good shape.

"People seem to really like the course and the price is right in this economy," Johnston says.

One course that has raised the bar on affordable golf around Hilton Head is Eagle's Pointe Golf Club in Bluffton. The Davis Love III design is playable, well-crafted, and typically in excellent condition. It is also immensely popular.

"I think this is an awesome course for the daily fee golfer," says Eagle's Pointe first assistant Chris Thompson. "It is more player friendly than anything you'll find on the island, the greens are huge, and the price is right."

Afternoon tee times at Old South, Old Carolina and Crescent Pointe

For golfers wishing to step it up a notch, Old South Golf Links, Old Carolina Golf Club, and Crescent Pointe Golf Club offer afternoon rates in the $60 range. Old South and Old Carolina are Johnston designs and Crescent Pointe is from Arnold Palmer's design firm.

"On a scale of one to 10, 10 being the most expensive, I would say that Hilton Head is somewhere around a five this time of year," Johnston says. "Reasonable rates are not a lost cause here."

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Reasonable Golf in Hilton Head

    Sharon wrote on: Sep 28, 2014

    4 of us girls will be in Hilton Head October 21st thru the 28th and we would like to play golf for a reasonable rate, can you suggest some courses?


  • Cheap golf

    Donna wrote on: Dec 2, 2012

    There will be 10 of us over Xmas break. We are not expert golfers where can we go for affordable good golfing most likely december27th?


  • Discount Golf

    Kelly Hunt wrote on: Sep 4, 2010

    Is there a phone number we can call the day before? Any further lists of courses and prices?


    • RE: Discount Golf

      Roger Roberts wrote on: May 22, 2016

      Will be at hilton head monday thru. Friday 1thru 4 dates please send courses with affordable rates even courses off island thanks


  • Affordable golf

    Steve Kirk wrote on: Jul 6, 2010

    The last time I was on Hilton Head, there was a phone number you could call the day before you wanted to play and receive discount rates. Apparently, the courses use this service to fill in threesomes with singles and whatnot. Anybody know that number?


  • Golf fees at Hilton Head Courses

    Sharon Bratzler wrote on: Apr 11, 2006

    Is there a golf book that can be ordered to give you discounts on golf fees at the courses on Hilton Head


    • RE: Golf fees at Hilton Head Courses

      Alan Church wrote on: Sep 12, 2006

      Is rose Hill open. were can I play golf on the island under $75. Were can I play off the island under 475.


  • hilton head summer rates

    GREGGUSELLIS wrote on: Jan 26, 2006

    I will be in Hilton Head during the week of July 8th. We will probably play 3 times. What kind of rates can I expect at that time ?
    Thanks, Gregg U'Sellis


  • golf prices

    TW wrote on: Jun 27, 2005

    From the 12 courses I have played all rates seem reasonable. An occassional deal would be great though.


    • RE: golf prices

      dan wrote on: Sep 25, 2005

      Would you please share your best golf course bargains on Hilton Head. I am going down at the end of October and don't have a lot of time to do research. Thanks.


      • RE: RE: golf prices

        Paul Sniezek wrote on: Jun 19, 2012

        comming to Hilton Head in October Please send a lilst of golf courses and prices thank You


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