Women: Beat your husbands at these gal-friendly courses in Hilton Head

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

HILTON HEAD, S.C. - The husband and wife team from New Jersey was keeping an unusually close scorecard. "Are you sure that was a par? Are you sure it wasn't a bogey? Wasn't that a three-putt?"

Golden Bear Golf Club
Women have a better chance of beating their husbands at Golden Bear Golf Club.
Golden Bear Golf ClubRobber's Row

It was all in good fun, but as the round progressed, the hard truth came out. The wife, who preferred not to be named, confided that they had made a bet. She had taken up golf later than him, and on a day when she was golfing particularly well, she lorded it over her husband, who was not having a good day.

Finally, the husband couldn't take any more and blurted out: "The day you beat me on the golf course is the day I eat my golf shoes."

He immediately wished he hadn't said it. But, he had, and so the bet lives on. Their friends are waiting for the day and have a big celebration and shoe-eating party planned; one friend who lives in another state insists he be told the day the wife wins so he can fly in for the festivities.

On the 18th hole, the wife turned to me and said," You're a golf writer, you play a lot of different courses. Tell me, which ones are women-friendly?"

Not all women look for friendly courses so they can force-feed their husbands Foot Joys. Most look because they want to enjoy the experience, instead of being miserable like the men. In a world of male-designed courses, they look for certain factors that will make it pleasurable.

In the Hilton Head area, there are several golf courses that fit that description.

Golden Bear Golf Club at Indigo Run: This course has forward tees at 4,974 yards, which makes it a little long for most ladies, but still roughly in their comfort zone.

Plus, it has both hole diagrams and descriptions on the tee markers as well as even more detailed graphics on the GPS. On this course, you definitely know where you're going, even if you've never played it.

"It's a lot of fun for women," Tennessee resident Mary Beth Morgan said. "I don't know that it's as much fun for men, but they give a lot of forgiveness for women. I bring a group of women over every October and we have a ball."

Actually, the course is fun for men, if they choose the right tees.

"From the back tees, it's all you want," said head pro Neal Ryan.

Palmetto Dunes, Robert Trent Jones course: This course made Top Fairways list of the country's 100 "Most women-friendly" courses, and has also been mentioned by Golf For Women in 1995 and 1997.

This despite the fact that the forward tees are 5,035 yards, though there is a short course that shrinks dramatically to 2,625 yards

Still, the facility - there are two other courses - offers women-only instruction programs Wednesday and Saturday mornings at the Arthur Hills course; sometimes they offer complementary spa sessions with the instruction programs.

It is also a very scenic course - the par-5 10th hole has sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Robber's Row at Port Royal Golf Club: This course has forward tees at 4,902 yards, less than the plantation's other two courses: Barony is 5,183 yards and Planter's Row is 5,119.

Robber's Row is a fun course to play, not overly difficult. It's in good shape, both fairways and greens, and there is little rough to slow you down. The only way you'll get in trouble here is to knock it into the trees or get into one of the many bunkers.

There is water, but not a lot and most of it is lateral, so the women won't be facing many challenging, forced carries.

Hilton Head National. There are five sets of tees and the women's play at 4,682 yard. The course isn't overly difficult for men, and the forward tees take the forced carries out of play. There are run-up opportunities on almost every hole, eliminating the need for the ladies to land high, soft shots to the greens.

It's a 27-hole facility, the first public course to move away from Hilton Head Island, and is known for its friendly service and good conditioning. Trees and wetlands border fairways and greens instead of houses and condos.

The original 18 holes were designed by Gary Player, and a third nine was added in 1998 by Bobby Weed. The greens are large and only mildly undulating.

Other women-friendly courses in Hilton Head

Here are some other women-friendly courses in the Hilton Head area, with forward tee yardages in parentheses:

Ocean Creek at Fripp Island Resort (4,824).

Okatie Creek Golf Club at Sun City Hilton Head. (4,763).

Old Carolina Golf Club (4,725).

Old South Golf Links (4,776).

Country Club of Beaufort at Pleasant Point (4,753).

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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