Located a mere mile apart does not mean that two courses look or play the same. In spite of being located in the gorgeous confines of The Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort our Monday venue The George Fazio Course and The Robert Trent Jones Course we played today have few similarities.
What they do share are great service, excellent conditions and a guaranteed good time. The Robert Trent Jones course also contains a more complete practice facility, expansive pro shop and the popular Big Jim’s Grill. Noted teaching pro and Director of Instruction Doug Weaver also hosts his many golf clinics, lessons and multi day schools there. We took advantage of one of Doug’s “free clinics” on Monday. The clinic was 90 minutes of great instruction, golf trick shots and valuable insights.
Today was all about just enjoying the entire process of reviewing a course designed by one of our favorite design teams, RT Jones. Joe at the club drop was first class, Hunter at the pro shop was very welcoming and professional while Doug, a noted author, manned the starter position like a symphony conductor. Doug conveniently moved us up 20 minutes and paired us with two really friendly and easy-going members, Joe and Karen, from north Philadelphia.
The course was more demanding off the tee for both of us than the Fazio course. The Robert Trent Jones course had a number of shorter Par 4’s which for me meant putting away the driver and hitting it to a favorable spot. Every facet of the course was an absolute treat. The greens ran a little faster than Monday, the fairways were trimmed to a very playable height and the bunker sand – Oh, I could hit 18 bunkers out of 18 holes and not be the least bit upset. Again, I almost holed 2 of them out. Karen, who was recovering from shoulder surgery, and Joe, with a new knee, showed no signs of those physical challenges and hit some great shots. Karen on one 4-hole section went par, bogey, par, par. Joe showed a great deal of confidence and nailed a number of drives with a nice little power draw. The 6th hole saw both of them roll in really long putts one right after each other.
Previous to that, we cheered on Karen’s par on the long 4th, Par 5 hole we came to the 5th, Par 3 hole where there was a bit of a backup, but it was all for a great cause. Positioned in a cart next to the tee was Mr. Terry Gill who shared with us that he had been to our home area on Vancouver Island whale watching a few years ago. He also explained that for a $10 donation which goes to a local hospice a sleeve of Callaway balls was your prize. If you hit the green you get second sleeve and if it happens to go in, $2,500 in resort credit is all yours. The wind was blowing straight at us and Terry said add 20 yards to the shot making it a 170 yarder.
My 6 hybrid is my 170-yard club and with the twosome behind us and Terry making my gallery six people, I hit one right at the flag. In the air I knew I was getting another sleeve of Callaways. What I didn’t know was whether Myra and I were going to pocket a $2,500 prize. It landed 5 feet from the flag much to my joy and the rest of the onlookers. Now putting has always been one of my strengths so the two putt was the most disappointing moment of my round.
The setting for the front nine holes framed among incredible live oaks trees which we don’t have up on Vancouver Island is truly breathtaking. The course begins to open up when you make the turn and the much-anticipated Par 5 10th hole which rises upward towards the ocean is scintillating. Parring it made up for my missed birdie opportunity on 5. The picture Joe took of Myra and me with the ocean as a backdrop will be a lifetime treasure. Myra stole the show on the Par 3 12th and easily two putted on this over the water par 3 with a lovely par. With a light breeze cooling our bodies under clear blue skies we continued enjoying the company of the native Philadelphians who make many pilgrimages to Hilton Head throughout the year.
It’s no surprise that of the three courses here at Palmetto Dunes including the Arthur Hills course which we will have to play on our next junket here The RT Jones course gets the most play and huge accolades. It’s a shot makers delight and a great venue for meeting new golfing companions like we did on this gorgeous South Carolinian day. Come experience this area of southern charm and impeccable golf for yourself.