Hilton Head Island's storied golf scene wouldn't be what it is today without it's great golf resorts like Sea Pines Resort and Palmetto Dunes Resort. But this golf-happy region, which includes other barrier islands and the towns of Beaufort, Bluffton and Savannah, is loaded with affordable places to play. Snowbirds who come to the area for the winter or those here for a week's vacation can play somewhere new all trip long without breaking the bank. My grandparents used to spend two months in Hilton Head each winter and splurge on one round at Harbour Town Golf Links, but play loads of other more affordable courses throughout their stay.
While Jack Nicklaus teamed up with Pete Dye at Harbour Town, he later added a solo design on the island at Golden Bear Golf Club at Indigo Run, a former Top 100 layout that stretches to over 7,000 yards. Non-residents can tee off at the crack o' dawn and zip around for as little as $69.
The next door town of Bluffton offers its own lineup of golf courses that tempt golfers to pass up driving onto the island for golf. Nicklaus' new partner in ceremonial tee shots at the Masters, Gary Player has a signature course located right on the main Highway 278 corridor before you head onto the island, Hilton Head National Golf Club. An area favorite since opening in 1989, morning rates are a shade under $100, but golfers can get on in the afternoon for closer to $50-60. Rose Hill Golf Club is another steal, offering morning rates under $50. Nearby, Crescent Pointe Golf Club, designed by the team of Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, offers peak tee times ranging from $50-70. Eagle's Pointe Golf Club, a plays just under 6,800 yards and boasts weekday tee times under $70 and afternoon nine hole rates for $29 and was designed by Davis Love III, a regular fixture at the Heritage each spring.
For one of the prettiest area plays under $100, head to Old South Golf Links (pictured). Architect Clyde Johnston has delivered affordable designs all over the southeast, and his 1992 design here is quintessential lowcountry, with a wealth of marshfront scenery. Morning times for non-residents can be found online from $62-90.
One of the more peaceful, old-style courses can be found at the Sanctuary at Cat Island, located just across the Port Royal Sound from Hilton Head Island. This traditional design by George Cobb (and restored by Jeff Brauer in 2008) features plenty of marsh scenery you can enjoy under $60.
One other bargain course I played over Memorial Day weekend last year was the Golf Club at Hilton Head Lakes. While it's easy to see the residential component of this new development has a ways to go, the course is fully up and at 'em. The design by Tommy Fazio really lets golfers rip it off the tee, which can't always be said around the lowcountry, where mossy oaks have a knack of straddling shady fairways.