Hilton Head National

6,160 yards, 126 slope from the Blues

Course:  I was down in Hilton Head on vacation and of course had to check out a couple courses while I was down there.  Hilton Head National is just off the island in Blufton, SC.  The course was almost always mentioned when I asked others what courses I should check out.  After playing it, I can see why.  First off, the course is designed by Bobby Weed and Gary Player.  Weed designed one of my favorite Philly area courses, Glen Mills, while I’ve always been a fan of Player courses.  Next, I was able to check out the course hole by hole via their website and things looked very nice.  Finally, the green fees were staggeringly low, when compared to many of the other courses on the island.  I liked everything I saw and heard of the course, so decided to slip away for a late afternoon round while the family hung out at the beach.

HHN is defined by the different character of each set of nine holes.  Weed designed the first nine while Player designed the second.  Generally, however, the course features contoured tree lined fairways, a variety of approach shots, from greens allowing bump and runs to forced carries over bunkers.  Water is sparingly used.  Mounds are used quite well, from big and small.  There are no houses lining the course, which is a rarity down in this area.  The course is strategic in places and was pleasing to the eye.  I found the course peaceful and it suited my eye, as I had one of my best scoring rounds of the summer here.  I have no basis of comparison, but if most course down here are anything like HHN, I may have found a possible vacation home location.

The First is a 364 yard par 4 and opens this nicely with a straightaway hole that is encroached by trees just slightly on the right side.  The trees actually force you to the left side of the hole, which then brings a large bunker on the left side of the green into play.

The First

Approach shot territory

The Second is a 391 yard par 4.  It’s straight for the most part, but the mounds and contours you encounter frequently on the course begin with this hole, most notably on the left side.  The green is slightly raised with a false front and bunkers are along the left side of the green.

The Second

A look at the Second green from the left side

The Third is a 489 yard par 5.  The tee area is set to the right of the fairway, which is raised and littered with bunkers early on, just begging for a fade off the tee.  The fairway is pretty narrow, with trees and a large hill mound that was on the right about 130 yards from the green.  I some how managed to get my second shot up there and you know what?  I’m glad I did.  It made the approach shot easy and I got a good look at the hole and green.

The Third
Looking back at the fairway from the hill mound on the right side of the hole

A look at the green from said hill mound

The Fourth is a 175 yard par 3.  A couple large bunker complexes frame this hole nicely, with bail out room to the right of the hole.

The Fourth

The Fifth is a 365 yard par 4.  It’s a sharp dog leg right where driver and maybe even 3w may be too much off the tee.  If you can really shape the ball, you’d be able to work your ball around the dog leg for a shorter approach.  A gentle hole so long as you manage it right.

The Fifth

Around the dog leg in approach shot territory

The Sixth is a very short 273 yard par 4.  I was licking my chops when I saw this hole.  A mid iron then a short iron, time for a birdie.  After collecting my bogey, the guy I was paired with who is a regular commented that this hole gets everyone.  Like the Third, the elevated tee area is set to the right of the fairway.  Actually the tee area is set straight at water, which runs along the entire right side of the hole.  There is a hill mound to the left of the green, which is full of bunkers, while bunkers guard the front of the green as well.  My tee shot was great, but the approach shot is intimidating and I hit it slightly right, into the water.  I want revenge.

The Sixth

Approach shot

The Seventh is a short 114 yard par 3.  The green is narrow but deep, with deep bunkers along the left side and a marsh area along the right.  Another silent but deadly hole if you don’t nail your tee shot.

The Seventh

The Eighth is a 511 yard par 5.  It’s a gentle dog leg left.  There are bunkers on both sides of the fairway around the tee landing area and there are bunkers nicely placed around the green area in different areas from 75 yards in.

The Eighth

Approach shot territory

The Ninth is a 352 yard par 4.  Another tee area that is set to the right of the fairway, but a draw actually works well here as opposed to a fade.  The fairway cants and dips on its way to the green, which is guarded by a nasty little pot punk jutting up in front  with a larger bunker towards the right of the green.  Another hole I enjoyed.

The Ninth

Approach shot territory

The front nine was a very nice set of holes allowing generous tee shots while demanding more precise second and third shots.  Bunkers were very well placed and presented recovery shots.  All in all, I enjoyed the front nine immensely.  Ranking them, it’d be 6, 9, 3, 7, 2, 8, 5, 4, 1.

The back nine starts with the 334 yard par 4 Tenth.  It’s a shorter par 4 that straight away with a generous fairway and green.  It felt like a nice starting hole, which is probably what it once was and intended to be, as this set of nine was designed by Player and it appears there was another nine holes in play, so they were played interchangeably.  At any rate, it was a refreshing hole to start off the back nine.

The Tenth

Approach shot territory

Things start to stretch out with the 386 yard par 4 Eleventh.  It’s a gentle dog leg left.  There’s double secret water off to the right of the fairway in tee landing area, which yours truly found.  The fairway gently tiers to the slightly raised green.

The Eleventh
Approach shot territory

The Twelfth is a 419 yard par 4.  Yep, things stretching a little more further out.  It curves pretty well around to the left with a lot of mounds along the right side of the fairway and water on the left.  Trees also line both sides of the hole and frame things narrowly.  Par is a tough score here.

The Twelfth

Approach shot territory

The Thirteenth is a 152 yard par 3.  The elevated tee shot is to a fairly wide but shallow green with some of the deepest bunkers on both side of the green.

The Thirteenth

The Fourteenth is a 369 yard par 4.  It’s a dog leg right with tree more looming than usual.  There’s a long bunker protecting most of the front and right of the green, which will come into play if you try to cut off the dog leg.  Hitting to the outside of the turn actually gives you a good look at the green and takes the bunker out of play.

The Fourteenth

Approach shot territory

The Fifteenth is a 164 yard par 3.  Easy enough, but not much room for a bad shot unless you thin it.

The Fifteenth

The Sixteenth is a 523 yard par 5.  The hole takes its time dog legging to the left around, what else, trees.  A large bunker protects the outside of the dog leg while a few trees encroach on the left side of the green, forcing you to go over them or try to approach the green from the right side.  It’s a nice par 5 that is a true three shotter.

The Sixteenth

Second shot territory

Approach shot territory

The Seventeenth is a 388 yard par 4.  I like how the par 4’s on the back nine maintain good length.  Mounds and contours obscure most of the fairway landing area and the mound on the right is rather high.  In fact, I ended up on top of the mound and felt rewarded with my look down on the green.  The rough was manageable, so it felt like a good place for the approach shot.  A very nice hole.

The Seventeenth
Approach shot territory

The Eighteenth is a 391 yard par 4.  The tee shot is a carry over wet land to a receptive fairway that drops off on the far right.  The green is slightly raised with a few trees obscuring angles if you stray too far from center.

The Eighteenth
Approach shot territory
This little guy came to check out our tee shots.  Apparently they’re pretty tough.

The back nine was a little longer than the front and favored execution over creativity.  It complimented the front nine well and I can’t think of a hole I didn’t enjoy playing.  I’d rank them 17, 18, 12, 11, 16, 14, 15, 13, 10.

Generally, HHN was a well done course that featured different personalities for each set of nine holes, but each complimented the other as intended.  The front nine felt a little more strategic and emphasized the approach game while the back nine seemed to demand a little more accuracy off the tee and from your long irons.  The one thing I noticed is that it was tough to hit it OB.  There were trees lining pretty much every hole, but you were left with hitting out of the trees off pine straw, as opposed to what I’m used to at most courses in our area: jail.  I really enjoyed the flow of the course.  Me and the guy I was paired up with zoomed through the round, encountering only one group that was happy to let us through.  As late afternoon turned to twilight early evening and I belted a 3 wood to 10 feet of the pin after a bad tee shot, I was getting all the vacation I needed.  Conditions were very good, service was spectacular and the design was strategic, with a nicely done routing.  The green fee was extremely reasonable, making it one of the best values I saw while I was down there.  Count me in for another round when I get down there again.

For those that know me, or have been following me for any amount of time, since I’m down here anyways, you should know where my next round is going to be……..

Gripes:  Range tokens seemed a little pricey and even though I guessed they had aerated since every course does it at the same time down here, they didn’t tell me until I showed up to check in.

Bar/Grill:  A good area with a couple tv’s and decent selection of food/beer/booze.  19th hole worthy for sure.

Clubhouse:  Bigger than normal with a lot of different stuff.

Practice area:  A nice driving range and putting green.  I didn’t see a short game practice area, but could be wrong.

Getting there:  It’s on 287 just before you cross the bridge to HH island.