Top Hilton Head Golf Courses Open to the Public

Hilton Head Island calls itself "America's Golf Island." And it's not hard to see why. This barrier island off South Carolina's Atlantic coastline packs 24 public and private courses in 42 square miles. Each of these Hilton Head golf courses boasts of designs by respected architects of the sport, including Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Reed Jones, and Pete Dye. So, when you go on vacation to Golf Island, the question before you isn't where to play, but which golf course to try first. Here's a list of great Hilton Head golf resorts open to the public you can check out.

Heritage Hilton Head golf at Sea Pines Resort

Sea Pines Resort is home to Harbour Town Golf Links, an 18-hole golf course designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus. Harbour Town has hosted PGA's RBC Heritage championship tour since 1969, so you can be sure that the course will test your mettle when you play there. You may even end up sharing your tee time with a pro. Aside from Harbour Town, Sea Pines also has the challenging Heron Point and the historic Atlantic Dunes, the first Hilton Head golf course. Moreover, Sea Pines has vacation home rentals with access to tennis courts, beaches, and coastal nature preserves.

Oceanfront Hilton Head golf at Palmetto Dunes

The Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course in Palmetto Dunes is one of only 2 Hilton Head golf courses facing the Atlantic Ocean. Thus, when you play here, you'll need to pay attention to sudden changes in wind conditions. The panoramic views of the ocean can also be a lovely distraction to your game. But no matter what your skill level is, you may find playing this course to be rewarding. Palmetto Dunes is also home to 2 more challenging golf courses: the George Fazio Course and the Arthur Hills Course. George Fazio has wide, tree-lined fairways on its front 9, but the course becomes tighter as you get to the back 9. At Arthur Hills, the water traps can be tricky. Condo and villa rentals at Palmetto Dunes have private pools, spa tubs, and gourmet kitchens, as well as access to a private beach and fishing lagoon.

Hilton Head golf + history at Port Royal

The oceanfront gated community of Port Royal Plantation is where you'll find Barony Course and Robber's Row, 2 Hilton Head golf courses with history. Barony Course is one of the oldest on the island, laid out by George W. Cobb in the 1960s. Accuracy is the key to good shot-making in Barony; though the greens are wide there, the bunkers can be tricky. Robber's Row, on the other hand, stands on the site of a Civil War battlefield. If you're a history buff as well as an avid golfer, you may want to check out the historic markers there while you're playing.

Play it your way at Shipyard Hilton Head golf

If you're a big fan of tailoring your game to suit your mood and skill level, Shipyard Golf Club may be the Hilton Head golf destination you're looking for. Shipyard has 3 interconnected 9-hole golf courses: Clipper, Galleon, and Brigantine. You can play them individually for short rounds, or you can combine 2 golf courses for your very own customized 18-hole round. Clipper is said to be the most difficult, as it features long fairways peppered with sand and water traps. Galleon, on the other hand, has greens well protected by pines and oaks, while Brigantine's fairways wind around lagoons with sunning alligators.

Hilton Head golf and Southern charm at Palmetto Hall

The moss-covered oaks and the palatial colonial-style clubhouse in Palmetto Hall Plantation can easily bring up images of the Southern antebellum era. But while Palmetto Hall's 2 golf courses appear to have wide and gracious fairways, they're not as easy as they seem. At the Arthur Hills Course, you'll encounter oaks and pines blocking your shot to the green, as well as water and sand bunkers hiding at the edges of the fairway. It's a challenging course to play even if you're a veteran player. If you're a beginner, you may find the Robert Cupp Course more to your liking, as it allows higher handicaps and a more flexible game.