One of the three courses located at Palmetto Dunes, the Arthur Hills course can sometimes be overlooked. While it does not have the stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean like the Robert Trent Jones Course, this course certainly holds its own. The Hills course winds its way through the tall pines of Palmetto Dunes plantation and uses numerous lagoons throughout the round to create challenging and fun shot making opportunities.
The front nine is not overly long, but will test players by forcing them to use every club in the bag. While I generally dislike that expression, it applies to this course. Certainly the opportunity exists to hit driver on every hole, but the more prudent plays would be to target certain areas of the fairway off the tee. The additional length a driver brings to the table is not always worth the risk of hitting it.
A perfect example of this is the first and second holes. A couple of shortish holes to begin the round offer players the opportunity to get off to a nice start. Both holes get more narrow the further the ball is hit off the tee. On the second hole, a water hazard crosses the fairway, so the lay up is more forced. In either case, if a player is feeling aggressive, the longer tee shot will leave a short iron. This theme is common throughout the short and medium length par 4s at the Hills course.
Arthur Hills is known for this style of design. He enjoys the risk reward element that allows players the opportunity to make some good scores. This course is also very playable for golfers of all skill levels, another Hills trait. Almost every hole has an opening to the green that allow players the ability to run or bounce the ball onto the putting surface. Strategic use of bunkering is also a Hills trait and he does it well not this particular design.The course is not riddled with unnecessary bunkering and there are some holes where no sand is in play. I believe this allows for a faster and more friendly round of golf.
I enjoy the set of par fives at this course more than any other at Palmetto Dunes. They all offer a fun risk/reward element and present players with opportunities to score. My personal favorite is the par 5 thirteenth. This hole bends from left to right off the tee. An aggressive shot down the right side will leave players with the opportunity to get home and two, however a large lagoon just short of the green will make most think twice. It is a forced carry to a relatively large target and that makes it incredibly appealing to take a shot. The eighteenth is also a fun finish to the round. A lengthy par five that moves to the right off the tee and then back to the left around the green. While there are no water hazards or bunkers to speak of on this hole, the mounding around the green can block out a view of the putting surface and make short shots a nightmare. What looks relatively tame certainly has some teeth.
Overall, you may not see many pictures of this course on the resort’s website, but this course is worth the price of admission. It offers the classic low country feel of walking through the tall pines and playing amongst the water system that works its way throughout Hilton Head. The ocean is nearby and the afternoon breeze can be comforting in terms of temperature but difficult in terms of club selection. The course flows nicely from one hole to the next and is an enjoyable track for golfers of all skill level.
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