The 40,000-some folks who live there often refer to it as “Fantasy Island.”
Hilton Head Island sits just north of historic Savannah, Ga., right on the South Carolina border. It is part of the laid-back lifestyle found in the “low country” where well-to-do citizens live on this retreat away from the hustle and bustle on the other side of the bridge.
About 70 percent of those 40,000 full-time residents live within 16 gated communities. The gates keep those who don’t live there on the other side.
No poor folks here.
Some of the real estate is spectacular. You can land a nice oceanfront pad for $4.6 million. If you shop hard enough, you might find one that needs some updating for $3.7 million.
Single family homes start north of $400,000. There are some nice bargain condos for $200k, even less, but you’re not looking at water.
Scenery is spectacular with the saltwater marsh estuaries home to gators, manatees, dolphins, loggerhead turtles and hundreds of species of sea birds. There are 12 miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront. To say this place is special is a complete understatement.
There are 17 golf clubs on the island, even more on the other side of the bridge as you get back toward Bluffton.
If you head northeast, you’ll reach historic Charleston with Kiawah Island to the east. If you want to talk expensive oceanfront, you can spend $20 to $30 million on the ocean at Kiawah. Hilton Head looks like a complete bargain.
Yes, there just happens to be a golf tournament this week. It’s the 50th anniversary of The Heritage. Arnold Palmer won the first edition back in 1969.
The course is called Harbor Town Golf Links but it is anything but a links course. With the exception of the 17th and 18th holes, this is a Parkland-style golf course, winding through pines and live oaks with Spanish moss dangling from the expansive branches. Deer inhabit the wooded areas.
The iconic Harbor Town lighthouse stands as a silent sentinel, overlooking the Calibogue Sound. The sound runs between Hilton Head Island and the mainland. This 13 mile long stretch of curving waterway connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Port Royal Sound. The Calibogue Sound also incorporates the convergence of several creeks, rivers, and tributaries which flow on Hilton Head Island.
Commercial development has been held to a minimum on the island. There is a McDonald’s but for the most part there are more than 150 really cool non-chain restaurants.
This is a great place to live if you can afford it.
The small full-time population grows in the summer months to more than 100,000. Lots of seasonal guests and the really well-to-do folks own second homes here.
This week, the tour brings some excitement, but not huge excitement.
The one big name here is Dustin Johnson — has to play — he’s an RBC brand ambassador. Bryson DeChambeau is trying his weird science approach around this course that really favors no particular type of player and that is reflected on the scoreboard.
Small greens, fairways made more narrow by those old oak trees, whose branches love to play havoc with golf shots.
Shane Lowry was the first-round leader with 66.
D.J. lazied his way to a 68, DeCambeau shot 70. Francesco Molinari appeared to be suffering from Post Traumatic Masters Syndrome and shot 74, which tied him for 111th.
For the record, Satoshi Kodaira won last year. He shot 73 on Thursday and didn’t look much in the “repeat mode.”
The weather is supposed to get a bit ugly on Friday — perfect day for a local watering hole with water views. Watch the storm, have a cold one.
Welcome to Fantasy Island.
Editor’s Note: DogLeg Editor Tom Edrington will be a guest on national radio show Tee To Green — hosted by Jay Ritchie and Jerry Evans. Broadcast time is 10 a.m. on Easter Sunday, April 21. You can catch it on Sirrus XM radio channel 21 or stream it live at on SportsByLineUSA. Oh by the way, Hall of Famer Jan Stephenson will be on the show as well, nice to play second fiddle to an LPGA great!