Sea Pines Resort
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32 Greenwood Drive
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 29928
Nearly 50 years ago, law student Charles Fraser envisioned an eco-friendly, master-planned resort community on Hilton Head Island. His Sea Pines Resort became a reality and a benchmark for upscale resort developments. The beachfront resort occupies 5,000 acres on the island's southern tipa peninsula bordered by the Atlantic and Calibogue Sound. True to Fraser's wishes, environmental concerns still hold sway. There are more than 50 lagoons and lakes on the resort and a 605-acre nature(+) More
Nearly 50 years ago, law student Charles Fraser envisioned an eco-friendly, master-planned resort community on Hilton Head Island. His Sea Pines Resort became a reality and a benchmark for upscale resort developments. The beachfront resort occupies 5,000 acres on the island's southern tipa peninsula bordered by the Atlantic and Calibogue Sound. True to Fraser's wishes, environmental concerns still hold sway. There are more than 50 lagoons and lakes on the resort and a 605-acre nature preserve/bird sanctuary. No building rises above the treetops. And the five-mile beach is pristine.
Sea Pines guests stay in the Inn at Harbour Town, a 60-room AAA Four-Diamond hotel, or in one of the many homes and beachfront cottages on the rental program. Consistently ranked among the country's top resorts in several categories, Sea Pines is home to one of the world's top tennis facilities, an excellent spa, an equestrian center, a golf academy, several outstanding restaurants, and three world-class golf courses.
Golf has been a Sea Pines attraction since the early days. Designer George Cobb's Ocean Course opened in 1962, followed in 1964 by the Sea Marsh Course. But the layout that propelled Sea Pines and Hilton Head onto the world golf stage was a joint effort by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklausthe Harbour Town Golf Links. Completed in 1969, it immediately hosted South Carolina's first PGA Tour event, the Heritage Classic, now the Verizon Heritage. Though it's not a major, it's a tournament the pros covet. The winners' list is filled with Hall of Famers like Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, and Payne Stewart.
Despite competition from more than 50 courses in the Hilton Head area, Harbour Town seems to be the layout everyone wants to play, a place where they can soak in the history and emulate the pros. It's ranked 67th in Golf Magazine's top 100 in the world. Golf Digest places it 14th among the "top 100 courses you can play."
Scholars of golf architecture praise Pete Dye for turning a pancake site into something extraordinary. His bag of tricks includes his trademark railroad ties, along with waste bunkers, lagoons, pot bunkers, and clever routing that uses stately old trees to frame pint-sized greens. Many fairways are wooded avenues demanding exact placement to set up the approach. At the 16th hole, the course leaves the forest for a trio of stunning seaside holes.
Overshadowed by Harbour Town, the resort's two other courses would enjoy pride of place in many locations. Pete Dye obliterated the old Sea Marsh track and laid down Heron Point, which became a worthy companion to Harbour Town in 2007. Once again he plumped up flat terrain, giving it restless fairways that twist, climb, and drop. Water, trees, doglegs, strung-out bunkersthey're all here, along with vertical planks instead of railroad ties.
The Ocean Course, redesigned in 1995 by former PGA Tour pro Mark McCumber, is the resort's least intimidating layout, but one that incorporates traditional style and attractive features. Off the course, duffers can sharpen their skills in the resort's highly ranked golf academy.
For more than 20 years freelancer Dale Leatherman has specialized in golf and adventure travel. Assignments take her all over the world, but she's always happy to be back home playing mountain courses in West Virginia. She is president-elect of the Society of American Travel Writers.(-) Close