Eagle's Pointe Golf Club finds its niche in Bluffton
BLUFFTON, S.C. — Eagle's Pointe Golf Club is one of those courses that has sprouted up in the Bluffton area, just west of Hilton Head Island, in the last decade or so and has come on particularly strong in the last three years.
Built in 1998, the course had its ups and downs in terms of conditioning, but that's now one of its strong points.
"For about the last three years, it has been consistently in very, very good shape," Head Pro Brent Carlson said. "You go through some growing pains and have to be patient when you're a new course. We have one reason for our success, and that's our superintendent, Kevin Morgan. For the last three years, as far as somebody coming in and complaining about conditions, I couldn't tell you the last time it happened."
Bill Hawkins, playing with two buddies from Pittsburgh on a recent windy, blustery day, certainly wasn't going to squawk.
"I think the greens are pure, I really do," Hawkins said. "They're a little slow, but they are very true. And the rest of the course is pretty, though not overly long. But, with the wind like this, 360 yards is like 440."
David Love III, a son of the low country, probably didn't have the wind in mind when he designed the course — seeing that the towering pines and oaks around the perimeter should block most of it when it comes sweeping off the nearby Atlantic Ocean. He had more of a classic, traditional theme on his mind, and that's what you get at Eagle's Pointe.
That, along with playability.
The fairways are wide and generous, though not as forgiving as, say nearby Hampton Hall. The Bermuda greens are above average in size, with some good slope and undulation to them, resulting in a course where you can thump it off the tee and, while walking to your monstrous drive, have time to think about what you're going to do with that tricky approach you're facing.
For a low-country course, there isn't much water, especially since it was basically built on top of a swamp. You'll be taking a lot of rides between holes on wood bridges that escort you over wetlands, but for the most part, water doesn't come into play.
"A lot of courses in this area have you hitting over a lot of things — water, sand — which is fun for me, but for the average player in the U.S., their stroke average is right around 100," Carlson said. "Here, there aren't a lot of forced carries. The greens are big and, combined with the generous fairways, you have a course that's user-friendly."
The big hazard here is sand. You will confront bunkers early and often, in the fairways and especially around the greens. Make sure you have a good sand wedge and a flop shot in your bag.
"That was kind of the idea," Carlson said. "That was the design, a traditional style layout winding through the trees. There are some lagoons, but unless you're hitting bad, they don't come into play."
Eagle's Pointe is a playable, public course with low green fees. You can't ask for much more than that — and the 32,000-38,000 rounds it hosts annually testify to it. It does have homes around it, but they aren't crowded around the tee boxes and fairways and some holes even manage to have an isolated, woodsy feel to them.
"You can play a lot of courses around here where you feel like you're swinging from somebody's living room," Carlson said.
The course is 6,738 yards (par 71), so it won't make you quiver from the back tees, and the par 4s are particularly well-designed. As Hawkins said, it's a pretty course, with the tall pines and oaks, and native grasses, complemented with lagoons and creeks.
Eagle's Pointe is owned and operated by Links Corp., and sits seven miles west of the bridge that leads to Hilton Head.
Stay and play
The Beachwalk Hotel and Condominiums, formerly the Holiday Inn Express, is on the north side of the island, two blocks from the beach, and close to shops and restaurants, including Coligny Plaza. There is a bicycle rental shop across the street.
The hotel doesn't include a restaurant, though there is a free, continental breakfast that offers most breakfast food you would expect. The staff is particularly friendly here.
The 91-room, three-story building is surrounded by landscaping and a lagoon, with an outdoor pool, sun deck and gazebo. Free wireless Internet access is available throughout the hotel.
Hilton Head has scads of good restaurants. For seafood, Alexander's is excellent, as is Kingfisher, Red Fish and Eugene's Waterfront Oyster Bar. Fiesta Fresh and The Studio are also recommended.
August 7, 2006