In 2022, Heritage Golf Group – the fastest-growing golf course ownership company in the country – acquired Palmetto Hall Golf and Country Club on Hilton Head Island. For Heritage Golf Group’s President and CEO Mark Burnett, the decision to purchase Palmetto Hall was easy. “With the resurgence in golf travel and the number of choices golfers have for golf getaways, it’s crucial that we promote our region’s amazing golf, lodging, and culinary assets,” Burnett said. He added, “We are thrilled with the recent addition of Palmetto Hall Golf and Country Club to our portfolio and excited for its inclusion in Hilton Head Golf Island alongside Oyster Reef, Port Royal, and Shipyard.”
Immediately after the acquisition, Heritage Golf Group committed to a multi-million-dollar golf course improvement project. A complete renovation of the Arthur Hills course was completed in the fall. The renovation included new Tiff Eagle Bermuda greens, renovation of all the bunkers and installation of the Better Billy Bunker system, the best drainage system in golf, and extensive tree work.
Palmetto Hall features two golf courses designed by two iconic golf course architects: Arthur Hills and Robert Cupp. Together, these courses have long been considered among the best layouts in the Lowcountry; Heritage Golf Group’s goal is to return them to their former glory. The courses present a compelling contrast – the computer-designed Robert Cupp Course with its ultra-modern shaping and geometric bunkers and the Arthur Hills Course with its traditional look and feel.
The Cupp Course is unique because it was one of the first courses to be designed using a computer and a CAD program. As a result, you’ll find a lot of geometric shapes throughout the course. Some of these geometric figures have dissipated over time, but many are still noticeable. Straight lines and defined angles are the norms for many of the hazards; perfectly round greens, rectangular greens, square bunkers, and mounds that look like pyramids can be seen as you make your way around the layout. As a result, the Robert Cupp Course has shown up on its fair share of “Unusual Golf Course” lists, yet it will test low handicappers and is extremely playable for novices.
When the course opened in 1993 it had a 152 slope rating – the highest slope rating of any course in the state at the time. The course has mellowed slightly and now carries a slope rating of 149. Move up to the White Tees which play 6,042 yards and the slope drops to 124, a little on the high side but still manageable. The Forward (Green) Tees play 5,230 yards and offer only a slight reprieve in difficulty with a course rating of 70.6 and a slope of 123. Pick the tees that best suit your game and you’re sure to have an enjoyable round.
Even with a high slope rating from the tips, the course still draws high praise for its impeccable year-round conditioning, sound shot values, and flexibility. The course will challenge you as you wind your way through and around vast sawgrass marshes and dense forests of oak and pine.
The 11th hole may be your best shot at birdie. It’s a short par 4 and plays 290 yards from the White Tees. Hit’s advisable to hit something less than a driver off the tee, short of the triangular bunker. That will leave a short pitch shot into a green where the pin is probably blocked out by a large mound. The green’s not very deep so distance control is at a premium. A good pitch shot can result in a good score!
The Arthur Hills Course at Palmetto Hall opened in 1991 to rave reviews and that same year was named to Golf Digest’s list as one of America’s Top 10 New Courses. Over the years the magazine has awarded the course 4-stars as one of its “Best Places to Play.” The Arthur Hills course plays 6,918 yards from the back tees with a course rating of 73.8 and a slope of 139. At 6,257 yards (70.6/128), the White Tees will prove to be a formidable foe for most golfers, while ladies will find the course enjoyable from the Red Tees (5,006/70.3/119).
Hills’ signature style is on full display with undulating fairways and a lot of mounding as the course winds its way through heavily wooded forests of moss-draped oaks and towering pines that frame the fairways of many holes. Palmetto Hall’s lush fairways and crystalline lakes give way to large greens that are protected by strategically placed bunkers.
The completely remodeled Arthur Hills course at Palmetto Hall starts you off with the most challenging hole on the course and ends with the Number 2 handicap. The first hole is a 405-yard par 4 (White Tees) that is relatively flat with marshlands on the left side and trees tight on the right. The green has a large false front and sits at an odd angle to the fairway. It’s protected all down the right side by a sand bunker. Did I mention the greens are very quick?
The 8th hole is a challenging par 4 that plays 354 yards from the White Tees. The water on the left side can be carried with a good tee shot, leaving a much shorter approach shot into the green. However, if you push your tee shot right, you could easily find the woods that line the fairway. There are two fairway bunkers in the landing area on the right side that also see a lot of play. Par is a good score here!
Number 18 is the #2 handicapped hole on the golf course and plays 389 yards from the White Tees. It’s a dogleg left par 4 with water all down the left side that most players are going to have to cross twice. Push your drive right and the trees will get you. A good drive will leave a mid-iron into a green with water on the left that comes right up against the green and two traps on the right. It’s one of Hilton Head’s best finishing holes!
Palmetto Hall Golf and Country Club offers a variety of membership categories. It is a bundled community, so if you live in the Palmetto Hall community you must purchase at least a social membership.
Palmetto Hall Golf and Country Club has joined three other classic golf courses on Hilton Head Island – Port Royal, Oyster Reef, and Shipyard Golf Club -and is now part of Heritage Golf Group’s Hilton Head Collection. Visit them online to book your next round or golf vacation package. at www.hiltonheadgolf.net.