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Hilton Head Island isn't a place you'll just "run into" while driving in South Carolina. It's a destination. Vacationers discovered this beautiful place decades ago, but it's since become a golfer's paradise too.

Hilton Head sits just off the coast of southern South Carolina, about 45 minutes from Savannah, GA. It's about a 30-minute ride from Beaufort, South Carolina on Rt. 278, over the bridge from the mainland and onto Hilton Head. You'll pass several outstanding courses on the route. Among them: Eagle's Pointe, a new layout designed by the legendary Arnold Palmer, and Hilton Head National, a 27-hole layout designed in part by Gary Player. Another outstanding course that's fairly reasonably priced for the area is Old South Golf Links. The course features several holes with island greens that sit at the edge of Calibogue Sound.

There are actually more courses on the mainland area near the bridge to Hilton Head than there are on the island itself. Once on the island, you'll find regions separated by "plantations", residential communities that also host some of the courses you'll read about. While driving toward the southern end of the island, you'll pass the Golden Bear Golf Club at Indigo Run, designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Palmetto Dunes Resort offers three courses designed by famous architects in the golf world. The premiere course on the island is Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the annual PGA Tour event, the MCI Heritage Classic. Harbour Town's famous 18th hole runs up to the famous lighthouse. The course will be closed for restoration, however, until early 2001.

It doesn't matter, really, where a golfer decides to tee it up. All of the courses on the island offer something interesting and are almost always in terrific condition. It's best to pick up a copy of the Golfer's Guide at the entrance to the island and scout prices and descriptions. Better yet, phone ahead to the visitor's bureau and make your tee times in advance. During the busy season in late spring, courses can be crowded. Prices almost always include a riding cart, often mandatory. A typical round runs between $70-100.