Teeing it up at the George Fazio course on Hilton Head Island South Carolina Monday morning at 11 AM was not our first introduction to the golf course. When it’s convenient, I will quite often pop into the pro shop the day before to physically confirm our tee time and introduce myself. Even foregoing that, there was another very rewarding introduction to this fine facility. Myra had rented us a two-bedroom condo which border’s one of the fairways at the Palmetto Dunes Resort. Rather than just look at it through the patio doors, I walked out onto the tee boxes a couple of times to get a sense of the golf course and its quality.
Also, I could not resist the opportunity Monday morning about 9 am to stop two guys on their power cart after they had teed off to pose a couple of very quick questions. What is the condition of the golf course like and what hole is this? The power car driver replied number seven and they both said the course is fantastic. We had both barely got out of our SUV when the power cart attendant appeared at the back bumper ready to load the clubs onto the cart with a very warm and hospitable welcome. It’s guys like Chris who can really set the tone for the day. I could see that it was Director of Golf, Clarke Sinclair, in the pro shop from our cart and I casually just asked Chris if he’s a nice type of fellow.
The next few minutes would confirm his answer. There was absolutely no arrogance, pretense or anything that would make a golf writer feel unwelcome. If anything, the exact opposite was true. By the time 10:30 AM had arrived and we entered the pro shop on our actual day of play I already had a very good sense of what was in store. Director of Golf, Clarke Sinclair was manning the pro shop counter and was very patient in answering a few questions about the course which would allow me to review the course with greater accuracy.
I made a point of letting him know how impressed Myra and I were upon arrival in the parking lot. Clark informed us that this, one of three courses here at Palmetto Dunes, does not have a driving range. Yet, they do offer something that I’ve never seen before in my 50 years of golfing. Between the practice putting green and the first tee they have three or four grass mats set up in an area not more than 40 yards long where you can hit a full wedge to warm up. They have a basket of cylindrical shaped pieces of plastic called Birdie Balls that you can hit as hard as you want and they soar nice and high and basically don’t go anywhere. It’s all we really needed to get loosened up on this warm beautiful Hilton Head day. If you do find it necessary to hit range balls, one of the two sister courses, the Robert Trent Jones course which we will play on Wednesday has a driving range that you’re permitted to use before you tee off on the George Fazio course. Putting for about 5 to 10 minutes on the practice putting green confirmed Clark’s advice that’s a greens are probably slower than we were used to. The Diamond Zoysia grass was somewhat welcome after the lightning fast greens that ate us up in in Augusta a few days ago.
The course from the first tee shot to the final putt and our time together playing on our own was not only rewarding and relaxing, but quite speedy. The attention to detail by the Superintendent and his greens keeping crew deserves a great deal of attention. That also includes the thankless hard work performed by the many laborers removing pine needles, grasses and palm fronds. We played in 3 ½ hours and after all was said and done neither of us had one three putt. To say the course was well maintained would be a gross understatement. It’s beautiful in so many ways. There are spectacular lagoons framing many of the greens with incredible birds of flight seeking a daily lunch. The variety of trees from palmetto palms, pines and live oaks are a remarkable sight.
The holes are really fun to play, none of them unplayable, but still no pushover. Landing areas were generous enough to take a rip with the big stick and the approach shots were a number of the greens was slightly elevated and fairly guarded with large bunkers. The bunker sand as a result of heavy storms in 2016 has been replaced and is so nice and easy to splash out of. I often choose courses that are more than difficult for the average golfer or shorter hitter, but in this case Myra gets the player of the day trophy.
She loved the nice flat layout and her confidence grew as the round progressed. She had two main highlights; one being nailing her tee shot high over the water hazard on the Par 3 13th almost hitting the flag and an leaving an easy 15-foot 2 putt par. The second was after we finished our round when Director of Golf, Clarke Sinclair, complimented her on her swing which he said looked better than most of the swings he sees here. He’s worked here since 1983. She was beaming all the way back to the condo.
Holes 16 through 18 providing a stunning finish and the Par 4 17th from the back tees could easily be inserted into any PGA Tour event to rave reviews, spectacular. Myra and I both agreed it should be on the HGC Tour. (Happy Golf Course Tour) . Play this course with your buddies, male or female. Bring your grandkids and let them tee off the really short front black tees. If you’re like me and you want to show your loving wife her golf game matters too treat her to a stay at Palmetto Dunes Resort and more than one round at the world class George Fazio GC.