Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort: Masters of the perfect Hilton Head Island golf vacation

By Lisa Allen, Contributor

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort was one of the first to recognize the potential of Hilton Head Island and snapped up 2,000 acres and three miles of oceanfront in the 1960s.

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort - aerial
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort remains at the cutting edge of luxury resorts.
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort - aerialHilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa - aerialPalmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort - kayakHilton Head Island - beachGeorge Fazio Course at Palmetto Dunes resort - 11th

It's bracketed by water, with the ocean on one side, the Intracoastal Waterway on the other and 11 miles of lagoons in between.

Palmetto Dunes started at the cutting edge of luxury resorts and has remained there ever since. It is lauded by countless travel experts as a world-class resort for golf, tennis and families. Forbes, Travel+Leisure, Golf Digest, Golf magazine, Tennis Resorts Online and others love this place, giving it a torrent of "best of" accolades.

Palmetto Dunes' development was possible because of its owners' brilliant idea to devise a lagoon system on the island, crafting navigable canals that opened up the island's interior to boat traffic and created majestic building sites overlooking them. The sand dug out of the lagoons was poured onto the Atlantic Ocean beach, creating a 10-foot barrier that protected it from erosion.

From there, the developers added three designer golf courses, a tennis center that rarely falls out of the top five in the world and Shelter Cove Marina, which is large enough to handle enormous yachts of up to 120 feet.

Thousands of visitors each year can attest to Palmetto Dunes' mastery of leisure living in accommodations that range from swanky hotel rooms to oceanside mansions.

Sprinkled atop that are numerous restaurants, entertainment, shopping and outdoor activities.

Golf at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Each of the resort's three golf courses was designed by a master.

Palmetto Dunes' Robert Trent Jones Course requires strategic play to navigate it as it wanders through towering trees, over canals and right next to the Atlantic Ocean, offering one of the most spectacular ocean views of any golf course on the East Coast.

George Fazio, with the help of his nephew Tom Fazio, built a doozy of a course with dozens and dozens of bunkers, stunning par 4s and tight fairways. The George Fazio Course is only a par 70, but golf pros for miles around know it is the one that will hone their games like none other.

The Arthur Hills Course put both Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods through their paces during their college careers, and it hasn't let up yet. It hugs the dunes, presenting all kinds of slanted stances on the fairway and green. The course also passes the 1880 Leamington Lighthouse, the only historic lighthouse on Hilton Head Island.

These three courses are must-plays on Hilton Head Island, and they have quite the assortment of "best ofs" and multi-star awards to prove it.

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort: Off-course fun

If golf is not your thing, there is plenty to do at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort away from the links:

The Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center features 23 clay courts and two Nova ProBounce courts, eight of which are lighted for night play. Tennis Resorts Online rates it among the nation's best tennis programs for its junior program, instruction and resort ambiance. The resort offers a slate of clinics for all ages, skills and specialties.

If it's an outdoor activity, it's offered at Palmetto Dunes, short of winter sports and mountain climbing. Hilton Head Outfitters can set you up for kayaking, fishing in the lagoons, water skiing or tubing, crabbing, dolphin watching or biking. There are miles of paved bike trails all over the island, plus 12 miles of beach to pedal along at low tide.

Looking for family activities? HarbourFest at Shelter Cove Harbour features weekly fireworks and live outdoor entertainment seven days a week from June through August and on weekends year round. Bring the family to enjoy food, crafts, a bounce house and other activities. Admission is free.

For the over-21 crowd, the choices open up island wide, from theatrical productions at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina to live bands at the "barmuda" triangle at South Beach, the Jazz Corner and dozens of other venues from martini bars to sports pubs.

The island also offers plenty of options for hungry travelers. From three-star dining at Alexander's in the resort to the many restaurants at Shelter Cove and the two hotels, you can't go wrong. Plus, you can easily pedal to any of them with bikes that can be delivered to your door.

The Dunes House serves lunch and dinner oceanside, and if you want to grab and go, there are several general stores and delis. Island wide, there are more than 200 eateries serving French cuisine, pizza or plenty of fresh fish and seafood.

It's a resort, so of course there are spas, both at the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa and the Hilton Oceanfront Resort and Spa. There also is free transportation within the resort via the Palmetto Dunes Buggy. Just call, and you'll be picked up within minutes.

Finally, you'll need a place to stay. From one-bedroom villas to six-bedroom oceanfront mansions and luxury hotels, Palmetto Dunes can dial in exactly what you're looking for, for however many people you're rounding up. You also can choose your view, from golf courses to lagoons, to the ocean, yachts in the harbor, poolside or woods. Vacation planners can find the perfect bed for your head.

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort has perfected creating the ultimate vacation. No matter what you like to do, they can help you do it, from golf and tennis to nature walks or power relaxing. Don't try this at home. Leave it to the experts at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort.

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.

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