Tee Up Stateside: East Coast South – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North & South Carolina
Are you in the mood for great drives on and off the course?
One of the most popular golf travel trends this summer is to drive and play golf in the good ol’ U.S.A.
You’ll experience a sense of adventure, play great highly ranked courses and probably find a few hidden gems along the way.
By driving, you have the flexibility to stop and dine at a classic barbecue joint, shop for antiques in rural America or play a local muni in a small town. With air travel limitations, now is the perfect time to take a classic golf vacation trip in your car, SUV or RV and rediscover the U.S.A. in a way that will reward you with unique and memorable experiences along the way.
From the traditional ambiance of Pinehurst Resort to the oceanside beauty of Kiawah Island Golf Resort, there are so many great possibilities in this golf rich region.
Here are some other great options for a drive-to golf trip on the South’s east coast:
Note: All yardages mentioned are from the back tees.
Reynolds Lake Oconee
Set on 12,000 acres of stunning lakefront property, Reynolds Lake Oconee features five masterfully designed public access golf courses. The headliner layout is Jack Nicklaus’ Great Waters, which is consistently ranked among the top 100 courses in the nation. Wonderfully groomed fairways, densely wooded evergreen forests and magnificent lake holes encompass as spectacular golf experience on Great Waters. Once you play Nicklaus’ masterpiece, you’ve got an amazing selection by some of golf’s best architects. The line-up includes The National (Tom Fazio, 27 holes), The Oconee (Rees Jones, 7,158 yard, par 72 ), The Preserve (Bob Cupp, 6,698 yard, par 72) and The Landing (Bob Cupp, 7,048 yards, par 72).
Sea Pines Resort/Hilton Head Island
Harbour Town Golf Links, the magnificent Pete Dye design and site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament, is the star of the show on Hilton Head Island. It’s set in the sprawling 5,000 acres Sea Pines resort community. The 7,099 yard, par 71 course, renowned for its landmark candy stripe lighthouse overlooking the 18th hole, places a premium finesse and creative shot making. Sea Pines also has a couple of other must plays, the 7,065 yard, par 72 Atlantic Dunes by Davis Love III, routed around beautiful natural sand dunes and 7,035 yard, par 72 Heron Point by Pete Dye, with its mounding, swales and bulkheads. Other top notch places to play on the island, which has 24 total golf courses, include 7,005 yard, par 72 Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort Robert Trent Jones Course, 6, 772, par 72 Old South Golf Links, 7,171 yard, par 72 May River Golf Club and 7,018 yard, par 72 Oyster Reef Golf Club.
Palm Harbor, Florida
Mention Innisbrook and most golfers, understandably, think of the famous, award-winning Copperhead Course, site of the PGA Tour’s annual Valspar Championship. Measuring 7,209 yards from the back tees and playing to par 71, the Copperhead is very un-Florida like with pine tree-lined fairways and rolling terrain. Among the Valspar Championship winners are Jordan Spieth (2015), Charl Schwartzel (2016) and Paul Casey (2018, 2019). Other tee up options at the 1,200-acre resort, include the 7,194 yard, par 72 Island Course, 6,325 yard, par 70 North Course and 6,620 yard, par 71 South Course. For swing help, the Innisbrook Golf Institute headed by Dawn Mercer, one of the nation’s top 50 female golf instructors by Golf For Women Magazine, has a 10-acre practice facility.
PGA National Resort & Spa
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
If you’re a devoted golf enthusiast who loves watching televised golf, you no doubt are familiar with Jack Nicklaus’ legendary Bear Trap on The Championship Course at PGA National. Comprised of the 15th, 16th and 17th holes, the extremely challenging Bear Trap makes for dramatic finishes at the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, which is staged annually at the course. While difficult and demanding, the 7,140 yard, par 72 Champion Course can accommodate all skills with five sets of tees. The expansive golf menu includes four other 18-hole courses and the PGA National Golf Academy. Other options to tee up are The Fazio (Tom Fazio II, 7,050 yards, par 72), The Palmer (Arnold Palmer, 7,079 yards, par 72), The Squire (Tom and George Fazio, 6447 yards, par 72) , The Estates (Karl Litten, 6.694 yards, par 72).
Reunion Resort Golf Club
A trio of golf’s most iconic figures-Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson-separately designed the three signature 18-hole golf courses at Reunion. A parkland-style layout, the 7,219 yard, par 72 Nicklaus course is fashioned to have golfers hit risky shots with potential big paybacks. The 6,916 yard, par 72 Palmer Course has hilly terrain and elevation changes with some up to 50 feet in some areas. With fast, firm fairways, spacious greens and strategic bunkering, the 7,154 yard, par 72 Watson course is a shotmaker’s delight.
World Golf Village
St. Augustine, Florida
Home to the World Golf Hall of Fame, this sprawling resort complex with lots of shopping and dining options has award-winning golf, too. The King & Bear course, the only design collaboration between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, opened in 2000. The 7,279 yard, par 72 layout is set among beautiful lakes, stately oak trees and loblolly pines. The 6,939 yard, par 72 Slammer & Squire, designed by architect Bobby Weed with consultation from Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen, weaves through unspoiled wooded areas and wetlands. For non-golfers, the historic city of St. Augustine, with shops, bistros and restaurants, is only a 20 minute drive away.
Bowling Green, Florida
The wild, exotic sand mounds – some as high as 75 feet – conjure up images of Ballybunion in Ireland. It’s hard to believe you’re smack dab in the middle of central Florida. On terrain that was previously used as a phosphate strip mine, Streamsong Resort has 54 holes of amazing golf designed by some of the game’s preeminent architects. The 7,148-yard, par 72 Red Course, a Coore and Crenshaw design, has creative green complexes with opportunities for bump and run shots. On the 7,176 yard, par 72 Blue Course, designed by Tom Doak, the first thing you’ll notice is the gargantuan elevated first tee, the highest point on the property. The second thing are the wide, forgiving fairways to be enjoyed by the “grip it and rip it” set. Designed by Gil Hanse, the 7,331 yard, par 73 Black Course is known for its unbelievably large greens and pristine setting.
Driving Distances From:
Atlanta: Reynolds Lake Oconee- 76 miles, Hilton Head Island- 280 miles, Innsibrook Resort-468 miles, PGA National Resort & Spa- 586 miles, Reunion Resort Golf Club- 449 miles, World Golf Village- 373 miles, 501 miles- Streamsong Resort
Charlotte: Reynolds Lake Oconee- 232 miles, Hilton Head Island- 247 miles, Innsibrook Resort- 592 miles, PGA National Resort & Spa- 656 miles, Reunion Resort Golf Club- 546 miles, World Golf Village- 413 miles, Streamsong Resort- 610 miles
Orlando: Reynolds Lake Oconee- 425 miles, Hilton Head Island- 312 miles, Innsibrook Resort- 111 miles, PGA National Resort & Spa- 159 miles, Reunion Resort Golf Club-28 miles, World Golf Village- 115 miles, Streamsong Resort- 88 miles