If you have a passion for golf, you probably don’t need a magazine to tell you that the Lowcountry would be a great place to spend your retirement.
That said, it’s kind of nice to get that affirmation.
The honor comes courtesy of Golf magazine, which named Hilton Head Island — and surrounding environs — among its choice of the nation’s top five retirement havens in its September edition. It has some pretty swank company, too, sharing the marquee with Pebble Beach, Calif.; Palm Beach, Fla.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Austin, Texas.
The magazine considered “four core musts” in evaluating its top destinations: Superior courses, year-round golf climate, stimulating culture and top-notch dining.
“Hilton Head hits on all those cylinders,” said Joe Passov, the magazine’s senior editor in charge of travel and course rankings.
In fact, Passov acknowledged that Hilton Head’s selection wasn’t even in question, noting the Lowcountry was easily among the top three. There was no indication as to which of the others might have been flirting with the cut line.
“We were pleasantly surprised and flattered,” said Cary Corbitt, president of the Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association and director of sports and operations at Sea Pines Resort. “Certainly, we’re much more than a retirement haven, but that is part of who we are.”
Perhaps, but more than 400 golf holes is a good start, as is the selection of communities essentially built around golf. The Lowcountry vibe also got high marks.
“Whether you’re on-island, on nearby Daufuskie Island or off-island in understated Bluffton, the Lowcountry good life is always in evidence,” the magazine said. “You won’t see garish billboards, neon or high-rises here — just one handsome development after the next.”
Passov said the compilation wasn’t exactly scientific, but essentially boiled down to answering one question: If you’re well set financially and love golf, where would you go?
“I canvassed a number of people and asked them for their criteria,” he said, “and that helped me narrow it down.”
Year-round golf was a must. Though it can be rather stifling here in July and August, so too are Palm Beach and Scottsdale. And there had to be things to do when golf is done for the day.
“I’ve always written this, but Hilton Head always seems to have a disproportionate number of excellent restaurants,” Passov said. “You have the influx of tourists that come in, and people that choose to live here are usually people with means. You’re going to take care of those folks.”
Corbitt noted that those who may choose to retire to the Lowcountry usually are rarely new to the area.
“Most people experience Hilton Head Island first as a visitor,” Corbitt said, “and when the opportunity comes along, they’ll consider us for second homes and retirement areas. It’s that kind of evolution that gets us to that distinction.”
The September edition also unveiled its newest list of the nation’s Top 100 Places You Can Play, where Harbour Town maintained its No. 9 ranking in its first rating since the course underwent a complete turf replacement last summer.
May River Golf Club at Palmetto Bluff also held its position, sliding just one spot to No. 52 on the list. Two other area courses made the magazine’s list of top 20 in the state — Heron Point at Sea Pines and the Hills course at Palmetto Dunes.