At long last, the public can play Dolphin Head Golf Club in Hilton Head Plantation, the only course in the area designed by Gary Player. In building the course, Player’s main goal was to leave intact as much of the terrain and to move as little dirt as possible, keeping a natural look to the golf course.
The success he achieved is amazing, as is the golf course. It’s one of the most visually stunning and best maintained courses in the area. The surrounding natural preserves and local wildlife were not interrupted and harmony between man and nature has been achieved.
Dolphin Head Golf Club opened in 1974 as the first course built in the Hilton Head Plantation. Local course architect Clyde Johnson renovated the tees, fairways and greens in 2010, installing denser Celebration Bermuda in the fairways and tee boxes and Mini-Verde Bermuda on the greens. The result is lusher fairways and quicker greens, something admired by the majority of golfers.
From the back tees, Dolphin Head measures 6,606 yards and chimes in with a course rating of 72.7 and a slope of 140. The White Tees at 6,169 yards (70.8/130) will provide as much golf course as the average golfer can handle, and still let you leave with a little bit of respect and dignity!
In building Dolphin Head, Player has created two 9-hole tracks that are completely different. The front nine meanders through tall, centuries-old trees and forests while the back nine has more open space yet brings more marsh and wetlands into play. Both circuits feature Players signature bunkering, resulting in one golf course with no two holes alike. The result is a golf course that is both scenic and playable and captures the natural surroundings.
Dolphin Head gets your round started with a hole that can put you on the right track in a hurry. It’s a modest length par 5, dogleg right at 465 yards from the White Tees, however you’ll need to avoid the pond on the right and trees on the left off the tee. Make it to the dogleg with your tee shot and you’ll have a clear shot into a green protected on the front right and back left by bunkers. The elevated green slopes gently from back to front so be sure to put your approach shot below the hole and start off the round in a positive manner.
Number 4 is the first par 3 you encounter at Dolphin Head. From the White Tees, it plays a moderate 154 yards. With the pond on the left and a large oak tree and mounding in the middle, there is essentially no bailout area. Because of the way the green lies, most golfers can expect a long side hill putt.
At 401 yards from the White Tees, Number 6 is the course’s toughest hole. If a draw is in your shot repertoire, now would be a great time to use it; anything short of the dogleg and you’ll likely be blocked out by tall pine trees. A good drive will still leave a lengthy approach shot into an elevated green protected by sand front left and right as well as grass swales long. Par is a great score here.
Carry the fairway bunker on the right side off the tee and you’re well on your way to a low score on Number 11, a par 4 that plays 365 yards from the White Tees. That will leave a short pitch shot to an odd-shaped green with a large bunker on the right and a small mound in front.
Straight is the key to success on Number 15, a long par 4 that plays 399 yards from the White Tees. The fairway bunker on the right seems like a ball magnet to many and the two-tiered green is well bunkered on either side.
Your round concludes on a signature hole. Number 18 is a dogleg right par 5, playing 470 yards from the White Tees. A good drive up the left side may just inspire you to go for the green in two, however danger awaits any errant attempts. A large pond makes up the right side of the fairway from about 300 yards out and the left side of the green is home to a rogue sand bunker. To further complicate matters, the green has two tiers and a bit of slope to it. Take your par and head to the 19th hole.
Although the golf course is the main attraction, Dolphin Head Golf Club is a place that, as a member, you can make friendships that last a lifetime. As a member, you’ll also enjoy full-service dining, social events, card groups, book clubs, and more. With a Brown Golf membership, you’ll get so much more than just being a member of Dolphin Head Golf Club. You’ll enjoy unlimited golf at 7 championship, 18-hole golf courses, unlimited range balls and use of the practice facility, discounts on guest fees, lodging and pro shop merchandise and unlimited golf lessons with a PGA professional.
For more information on becoming a member or to book your next tee time, visit their website, www.dolphinheadgc.com
Date Played: August 29, 2017 | Cost: $0.00
Although Dunes West Golf and River Club opened in 1991, the history of the land can be traced back to 1696, although the land wasn’t developed for another sixteen years or so. Shortly after being developed it was purchased by Captain John Vanderhorst, Joseph Vanderhorst and Thomas Lynch, the same family that owned most of Kiawah Island – in 1712. They kept it in the family for over 100 years. Fast forward to 1937 and Henrietta Hartford, one of the wealthiest women in America, buys the land and marries Prince Guido Pignatelli of Italy. The land would become known as Pignatelli Plantation and Henrietta – aka Princess Pignatelli – has a nine-hole golf course built.
Dunes West Golf and River Club is ideally situated along Wagner Creek and the Wando River, offering up some spectacular views of the surrounding aquatic life. The course itself was designed by renowned golf course architect Arthur Hills and is a “must play” for any golfer traveling in or around Charleston, SC. Dunes West has been proclaimed by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine as a “Top 10 Resort Course”.
The course plays 6,859 yards from the back tees, with a course rating of 73.0 and a slope of 134. Most golfers will find that the Blue Tees (6,100/69.0/122) will give them all they can handle and still maintain a little dignity.
Hills took full advantage of both the Wando River and Wagner Creek when he built this masterpiece. As you make your way around the course, you’ll see saltwater marshes and coastal tidelands; all commonplace for those who live in the South Carolina’s lowcountry, but visually stunning for those who don’t.
Although the current version of Dunes West does not resemble the 9-hole original course in any way, shape or form, the clubhouse does sit on the very spot of the princesses’ 32-room mansion. The oak trees that frame the drive up to the clubhouse, as well as the right side of the 18th fairway serve as a reminder of the properties history; they were planted by Princess Pignatelli herself.
Like most Arthur Hills, there’s a lot of mounding in the peripheries of the fairways and around the green complexes. Grass bunkers and swales are every bit as challenging as the light, fluffy sand you’ll find in any of the traps. Greens come in all shapes and sizes, most have subtle undulation and all roll true.
There were several challenging holes on the front nine at Dunes West, but none more memorable than the four finishing holes. Number 15 is a Par 5 that plays 481 yards from the Blue Tees has two sets of four fairway bunkers that challenge players off the tee and in the landing zones. The first set are on the edge of the fairway and shouldn’t cause much trouble; the second set bisect the fairway and catch a good deal of layup attempts. A shot from the left side of the fairway bunkers leaves an easier approach and somewhat takes out of play the greenside traps on the right side of a slightly elevated green. A long drive up the left side sets up a good opportunity to get home in two and go for broke.
Number 16 is the toughest hole on the inward nine and plays 369 yards from the Blue Tees. Water come into play over the trio of fairway bunkers on the right off the tee, but is more in play on your approach shot. An ideal tee shot is between the 150-marker and the trees on the left; that will leave a manageable yet challenging approach shot over sand to a small green with water waiting if you hit it right. The green is small with subtle undulations.
Number 17 is a par 3 that plays 169 yards and is by far the most challenging par 3 at Dunes West. With water on the right side and sand left and long, there is no room for error off the tee. Miss the left fairway bunker long and you’re facing a tough lie in a grass swale. The green is small and slopes left to right. Best of luck!
Number 18 is a great finishing hole. This dogleg right par 4 will give any golfer all they can handle from the back tees; from the Blue tees, it’s a manageable 383 yards. There’s not the usual plethora of sand you find on many holes; in fact, there is none. Your biggest challenge on this hole is to control your drive off the tee. Keep it in the short grass and leave yourself a clear shot into the green and you’ll finish strong; just be sure to avoid the marsh area short left.
Before your round, be sure to visit Dunes West’s practice facility. There’s a full-length driving range with multiple targets that will let you hit every club in your bag. The short game area has a sand trap for extra practice and there is a large practice putting green as well. If you’re having troubles with your swing, set up a quick lesson with one of the club’s trained PGA professionals.
In addition to a superb golf course, Dunes West also has a 6000-square foot clubhouse with full service dining. The Grille is open every day from 8am to 3pm; breakfast is served Wednesday – Sunday from 8am – 11am and lunch is served daily from 11am – 3pm. Brunch is available on Sundays from 8am – 12pm. One of the specialties at The Grille are the tacos, which come in several varieties, and the burgers are outstanding. On Thursdays, The Grille is open for dinner with delectable entrees of beef, chicken and fish. There’s also a full array of country club amenities including swim and tennis.
Because of its location, Dunes West is a picturesque and memorable location for weddings. Their experienced event and culinary staff can help you put together your special occasion. It’s also a great venue to host your next tournament or golf outing.
For more information on becoming a member, you can call Dunes West at (843) 856-9000 or visit them online at www.duneswestgolfclub.com.
Date Played: August 29, 2017 | Cost: $0.00
Almost one year after I swore I wouldn't come back I did, and unfortunately it was the same result. Greens were great and if it wasn't for dead spots I would have given a 5 rating. Fairways and tees were uncut and shaggy where there was grass, but many bare and dead spots exist, 2 fairways were used as sod farms with just exposed bare earth left. Roughs were plain horrible,either bare spots or it was so thick you couldn't even find your ball. Many bunkers washed out with only hardpan remaining. Needless to say I won't be back
Date Played: August 20, 2017 | Cost: $60
Central Point, OR4 Reviews
Golf Staff and setting or topography for this course was great. It was the middle of summer but everything was still very green. The first 12 holes were a good challenge and made use of the natural topography and seemed more cared or groomed than the some of the holes on back 9. Some of these holes had dead limbs and seemed had not been groomed in a while like the front 9. I lost balls just off fairway that I saw land in 2nd cut and gopher holes. So the moral of story is keep it IN Fairways.
Date Played: August 13, 2017
Central Point, OR4 Reviews
Just completed my first round at Shieldcrest and what it lacked in cart paths it more than made up in great conditions and scenery. Greens and fairways were lush green for the middle of summer. Course overall was in good shape and with the blues playing over 6,600 yards it was a challenging course, but unfortunately, my ball striking or scoring did not live up to the challenge on this day.
Jared and the staff treated us well and I will be back to try it again.
Date Played: August 12, 2017 | Cost: $47
Pinecrest Golf Club – Fun to Play No Matter Your Handicap
The Pinecrest Golf Club in Bluffton SC opened for play in 2004 and was designed by Rocky Roquemore, best known for his designs at Cannongate Golf Club in GA and several of the Disney courses in Orlando, FL.
Pinecrest is owned and operated by Brown Golf Management who purchased the club on March 10, 2011 and opened it up for public play. The course is known for having a stunning and scenic layout and plays its way through strands of tall pines and around several beautiful lakes. Water comes into play on about 15 holes with number 9 being the only forced carry over water off the tee, although not a very long carry at that.
Sand bunkers pose more of a threat to your scorecard, especially off the tee. Every non-par 3 hole has at least one bunker on the edge of the fairway in the landing zone; par 5s have been strategically fortified with a second set of bunkers in the layup landing area, although they always seem to be on the periphery of the fairway. Greens are also well protected, with many of them being elevated.
Speaking of greens, Pinecrest’s are large and roll true; if you want to score well, best to not leave yourself a lot of long putts.
Most Memorable Hole: Number 11. The course’s second hardest hole is a par 5 that plays 500 yards from the White Tees and requires an accurate tee shot due to the water on each side. You’ll want to use the left side of the fairway on your layup but be sure to avoid the fairway bunkers over there and be careful of the water that juts out half way into the fairway. These bunkers should not come into play. From here you’ll have a short pitch shot into an offset green. Three good shots and you can conquer this hole.
The practice area at Pinecrest is second to none and could very well be the best public access practice facility in the Bluffton area. There’s a double-sided range, two large putting greens and a separate chipping green to hone your game. If you’re still having trouble, check in at the pro shop and sign up for a lesson with one of their PGA professional staff.
After your round, stop by the 9 Iron Restaurant located in the clubhouse. They feature excellent food at reasonable prices, including fresh sandwiches, soups, salads and daily chef's specials. The jumbo Reuben is one of a kind or, if you’re looking for something a little lighter, try their cranberry-almond salad. No matter what you’re hungry for, odds are you’ll find it here, as well as your favorite after golf beverage.
Brown Golf has some incredible membership opportunities available which are particularly attractive to those in the Bluffton area. A single membership includes unlimited golf at 7 local courses as well as reciprocals at all other Brown Golf Facilities around the country. You’ll also receive access to the practice facilities and unlimited range balls as well as complimentary golf lessons from PGA professionals. That alone is worth the monthly dues. For more information or to book your next tee time at Pinecrest Golf Club, visit them at www.pinecrestcc.com.
Date Played: July 25, 2017 | Cost: $0.00
Windsor Parke Golf Club is a semi-private, 18-Hole championship golf course designed by Arthur Hills and has been recognized as one of Florida's top 100 courses. Over the years, Windsor Parke has hosted more USGA qualifying events than any other course in the city of Jacksonville; qualifiers for such tournaments as the US Open, US Amateur, US Publinks and US Senior Amateur. It’s also recognized by the NGCOA as a “Beginner Friendly” golf course.
There are four sets of tees that play anywhere from 5206 yards for the ladies to 6765 yards for accomplished players. Average players will find the White Tees (6,003) yards a fitting challenge. In the clubhouse, you will find a well-stocked pro shop with a plethora of logoed apparel and a restaurant/lounge area that offers all your favorite clubhouse foods and adult beverages. Windsor Parke is also a good place to tune up your game with great practice facilities, including a targeted grass range that lets you hit every club in the bag as well as putting and chipping greens.
This championship layout has Arthur Hills written all over it with its rolling fairways, elevation changes and strategically placed bunkers. Several holes feature forced carries over water, including 3 of the 4 par 3 holes and a couple of par 4s. That doesn’t include carries that macho golfers will encounter when they try to reach the par 5 greens in two.
Off the tees, the fairways are fairly easy to find, however several approach shots leave little room for error. For the most part, greens are fairly level with subtle undulations. As always, greens in regulation often equate to good scores. Hills also had some fun with green complexes, as can be seen from the devilish little pot bunkers around the 8th green. Here are a few of the favorites:
Pro’s Pick: Number 4: Par 4, 388 yards (Blue Tees). A dogleg left that plays 388 yards from the Blue Tees and features water all down the left side and strategically placed bunkers on the right in the landing area. If you’re not overly long off the tee, these bunkers are a great aiming point. A decent drive will leave you about 150 yards downhill to a green protected on the left by water.
Member’s Favorite: Number 6: Par 5, 533 yards (Blue Tees). This long, straight par 5 has trees framing both sides of the fairway. The creek that crosses the fairway just in front of the green makes this a three-shot hole for most players. Par is a good score here.
My Favorite(s): Three finishing that will really test your mettle. Number 16 (par 4, 426 yards) features a narrow fairway with water all down the left side and trees lining the right. The green is protected by a large bunker on the left. Number 17 (par 5, 531 yards) is a carbon copy of 16, only 100+ yards longer and has more bunkering around the green. Number 18 (Par 4, 351 yards) requires a tee shot over water to a wide-open fairway and then an approach shot over more water to an awaiting green protected on the left by water. Par or better on these last three holes usually means a good score.
Windsor Parke is one of the best values I came across during my visit to the Jacksonville area, especially when you consider it’s an Arthur Hills layout. Members I spoke with had nothing but good things to say about what Brown Golf has done with the facility since acquiring it in 2015. They continue to make improvements to both the course and the clubhouse.
Memberships are available at Windsor Parke and include unlimited golf and use of all practice facilities with a discounted range plan, reciprocal play at all other Brown Golf facilities and a reciprocal membership at Julington Creek Golf Club.
Date Played: July 24, 2017 | Cost: $0.00