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Just here on Hilton Head Island, you could probably come up with three or four "Dream 18" type courses with the awesome quality of golf layouts we have here. So to be selected to take part in the "Dream 18: Hidden Gems of South Carolina" - needless to say, we are honored and flattered.
We take great pride in all three of our courses here at Palmetto Dunes (Robert Trent Jones course, Arthur Hills course and the George Fazio course) and it's tough to pick one as any more outstanding than the others. But from our guests, our staff, our members and visiting media - everyone seems to have a special spot in their heart for the 16th hole on the Fazio course.
This hole has everything a great golf hole should have. It's scenic, it's tough, it's fair, it makes you think and most of all, regardless of how you play it, you want to play it again. In fact, more than anything else, to me that is what defines a great golf hole - do people enjoy it enough to want to play it again and again? Here at the Fazio course, we have a definitive "yes!"
Hole No. 16 is a fairly long par 4, measuring 425 from the tips, 416 from the blue tees and still over 400 yards (403 actually) from the white tees. No matter what tees you choose to play, you'll have to hit one of your best drives to clear the bunker on the right, avoid the second fairway bunker on the right and of course, not go into the lagoon that runs all the way down the left side of the hole. The ever-present breeze is typically a cross-wind or even into you, so this will be your most challenging drive of the day.
If you manage to find the fairway (great shot!), you still have to find the green. The long second shot means you'll have to avoid that same lagoon, more water on the right (a pond comes into play about 120 yards from the green and all the way down the right from there) and bunkers left, right and behind the two-tiered green. Sound easy enough?
What I tell golfers to do on the 16th hole is to take a moment as they play it to notice what a great piece of land it is. From the lagoon on the left to the pond on the right, with the large white bunkers and fescue grass helping frame the hole perfectly - it's absolutely pretty as a picture, no matter what your score. As you approach the green, take a look at the island in the center of the pond on the right. It is a wildlife habitat, with several species or birds nesting and feeding there at all times of the year. No matter what your score, you'll find plenty of birdies on this hole.
I've always maintained that a great golf hole means a great memory, not necessarily a great score. It offers options to the player and a unique challenge regardless of what route the player takes to finish the hole. This describes hole 16 perfectly. If you make a par here, it will be the highlight of your round. If you happen to birdie it, it will be one of the highlights of your golf career. But no matter what, you'll walk (or ride) away saying it was fair, fun and you'd play it better next time. I think all golf holes should be so awesome. But unfortunately they're not. Good to know this one is.