Palmetto Dunes

Hilton Head Golf Legend Leo Luken Lived an Amazing Life

Last fall, we shared with you that one of our residents and regulars at our Hilton Head golf courses shot his age or better for an amazing 1000th time. Leo Luken, who at the time was 95, came to play golf with us about three times every week. We are saddened to inform you that he passed away in his sleep on August 2 at the age of 96.

Leo made national headlines with his golf feat, showing up on the Golf Channel and PGA.com, as well as in USA Today. You can watch the Golf Channel interview with Leo below:

 

Leo didn’t even begin playing golf until the age of 45 and didn’t shoot his age for the first time until he was 71. In 2005, he participated in the Shoot Your Age Championship in Florida, which aired on CBS. There he shot his age for the 530th time, actually bettering his age by six shots. Leo won the tournament, besting even Arnold Palmer and Gary Player!

Hilton Head golfer Leo LukenOriginally from Indiana, Leo was also an avid baseball player and served as a pitcher in Fort Wayne, Ind. He holds a spot in the Kentucky and Indiana sports halls of fame.

In the Hilton Head Island Packet, our Director of Golf Instruction Doug Weaver said, “As an athlete, he was as intense a competitor as I've ever known. He's the type of guy that if he would have learned golf at 20, he would have been a competitive pro."

“I want people to remember how fortunate we all were to be around him,” said Weaver. “If I played golf with him 20 times in 10 years, it wasn't enough. He had an Arnold Palmer type of charisma."

George Fazio Course Named South Carolina Golf Course of the Year for 2014

South Carolina Golf Course of the Year 2014

Three-Ball. Hat Trick. Trifecta. No matter what you call it — if it happens in sports, three of almost anything is reason to celebrate.

We’re excited to share with you that we’ve experienced our own three-peat after the S.C. Board of Directors of the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) named our George Fazio golf course the 2014 South Carolina Golf Course of the Year. It’s the third and final of our three Hilton Head golf courses to receive this prestigious designation.

In 2003, the Robert Trent Jones oceanfront course was named South Carolina Golf Course of the Year, while the Arthur Hills golf course received the honor in 2009. All three have also been rated four stars or more by Fodor’s Golf Digest Places to Play.

“The award-winning George Fazio course embodies the values we cherish at Palmetto Dunes – offering year-round championship golf in the heart of the South Carolina Lowcountry,” says Brad Marra, vice president of resort operations for Palmetto Dunes. “Many golfers regard it as the island’s most challenging championship course.”

The Fazio golf course demands a combination of long play and precise golf shots. From the 432-yard 1st hole to the 462-yard 18th hole, the Fazio course is the only par-70 golf course on Hilton Head Island. Its long par-4s are beset with bunkers and water hazards. The Fazio course plays 6,239 yards from the middle white tees.

In October, the Fazio Course will be in the running for National Golf Course of the Year.

Book a tee time at the Fazio course and try it out for yourself! For more information about Hilton Head golf packages or group golf on Hilton Head Island, visit www.palmettodunes.com

Play Golf like Rory McIlroy at Hilton Head’s Palmetto Dunes

Everyone’s talking about Rory McIlroy right now with his big win at the British Open. He even got the coveted Sports Illustrated cover, which is rare for any golfer other than Tiger Woods. Here at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy, we like to teach golfers how to improve their game and love to take a look at some of the pros’ best techniques.

According to our Director of Golf Instruction Doug Weaver, Rory McIlroy is known for his rotating swing. When you look at the completion of his swing, his right shoulder is over the left leg and past the left shoulder rather than stopping the rotation.

How can you learn that technique? Weaver suggests naturally tossing a ball toward to the left of the target line almost at a right angle to get the feel of it. He says it translates into better compression of the ball, which you’ll hit clean and far. Watch this video of Weaver demonstrating:

In a recent article, Golf Digest also noted McIlroy’s outstanding putting at the British Open where he made 20 birdies and two eagles and one-putted 34 out of 72 greens. The article notes that his putting coach Dave Stockton teaches players to “begin to set their stance while looking out at the line -- not at the ball.” At the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy, we offer eight hours of putting instruction every week to help you work on that aspect of your game.

The Daily Mail’s Tony Jacklin says, “Rory’s technique is fabulous, showing that golf is nothing to do with size but all about speed and balance and rhythm and skill. It’s magical to watch.”

Weaver offers some tips for putting like McIlroy in this video filmed at the oceanfront 10th hole at the Robert Trent Jones course at Palmetto Dunes:

Of course, if you want to be like Rory, it doesn’t hurt to use Nike clubs and wear Nike apparel, too. The Palmetto Dunes golf pro shop at the Robert Trent Jones golf course is one of only six Nike Golf TTC Concept shops across the U.S. where you can find plenty of Nike gear.

If you want to learn to play like Rory, look no farther than the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy. Call us at 866-650-4130 to schedule your private lesson today!

Get your Golf on at Hilton Head Golf Tournament at Palmetto Dunes Courses this July

Hilton Head golf tournament

Do you get competitive when it comes to golf? We’ve got just the event for you: our 1st annual Palmetto Dunes Summer Golf Series.

The tournament will run three Saturdays in July, one Saturday at each course, with prizes and bragging rights at stake.

The format will be a shotgun start with a four-man team scramble and team handicap at 20%. The first two tournaments are independent of the championship, and the top two teams from each of the first two tournaments will be re-handicapped based on their scores.

The top two teams will be competing for the Series Grand Championship at the Robert Trent Jones golf course where six teams will be playing to be the grand champions. The rest of the teams will be competing as they did in the first two events at the Arthur Hills golf course and the George Fazio golf course.

Prizes, which will be awarded for low net, closest to the pin and long drive, will include resort gift cards, golf certificates, hotel nights, restaurant discounts and more. The grand prize winners will receive individual and team trophies and custom shirts with the series logo and 2014 champion embroidered on them.

The tournaments start at 9 a.m. on July 12 at Arthur Hills, July 19 at George Fazio and July 26 at Robert Trent Jones. Entry fees are $65 per player or $260 per team and $85 per player or $340 per team for the Jones championship.

What do you think? Can you and your golf buddies bring home the championship trophy? If you’d like to give it a go, you can save $5 by registering online or give us a call at 843-686-9624 for more information. Good luck!

Three Hilton Head Golf Courses, Three Varied Experiences

Hilton Head golf courses

One of the best things about Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is the opportunity for golfers to experience three 18-hole championship Hilton Head golf courses all at one resort with first tees no more than 5 minutes apart. Designers Robert Trent Jones, George Fazio and Arthur Hills all have established golf courses at our resort and each offers a unique playing experience for the golf lover.

Robert Trent Jones Golf Course

The Jones course is perhaps best known for its oceanfront setting with one of only two oceanfront holes on the entire island. Its layout is immaculate and stunning in its beauty and the view from the famed 10th green is not one that will soon be forgotten (we’ve even had weddings there!). Jones plays away from the clubhouse until it reaches its famed back-to-back par-5s that play out to the ocean. It’s also known to have the most accommodating fairways of the trio of courses, though keep in mind you might lose a ball or two as the course winds its way over the resort’s inland lagoon system.

George Fazio Golf Course

We hear a lot that the Fazio course is the most challenging of our courses. It offers the island’s only par-70 layout, whose long par-4s, elevated greens and deep bunkers will test all facets of your game. Known as a great course for “faders” of the golf ball, the Fazio course features a unique double green at 11 and 16 that gives you a peek at what many experts believe is the toughest finishing stretch of holes on the island. These are a Fantastic Four featuring three par-4s over 400 yards from the white tees and a par-3 just a step less than 190.

Arthur Hills Golf Course

Lastly, you’ll find our Hills course, which is as much a tour of a wildlife sanctuary (keep your eye out for waterfowl and an alligator here or there) as a round of golf with its natural beauty. There are those who say they could play the Hills Course every day and never play it the same way twice with the diversity of strategies presented. PGA Tour star Bryce Molder shot a course-record 60 here while in college, while Tiger Woods took an 8 at the signature 17th, a par-4 that requires a drive and an approach over and around one of the many lagoons on the layout.

At all three courses, you’ll find five sets of tees, including family tees, to create an enjoyable, yet challenging round to players of all skill levels. You’ll also find three different putting surfaces: Champion Bermuda on the Jones Course, shade-tolerant Diamond Zoysia on the Fazio and TifDwarf Bermuda on the Hills Course.

Which of the courses will you take on? Do you dare try all three and 54 holes on one visit?! Let us know if you take the challenge and how you did!

For more information about Hilton Head golf packages or to get a quote on group golf, visit our website at www.palmettodunes.com or give us a call at 866-650-4130.

97-year-old Starter Retires After 33 Years at Robert Trent Jones Course

Hilton Head golf courses

If you’ve ever played golf at our Robert Trent Jones golf course, then you probably know Sammy Mulrain. This 97-year-old lover of golf served as the course starter every Thursday for the last 33 years, never missing a shift! How’s that for dedication? Sammy has finally put down his golf clubs, at least as a career, and retired as our starter ranger at 97 years young.

He’s truly beloved by the staff at Palmetto Dunes and by all the golfers who come through our doors year after year. “You don’t come across people like Sammy every day,” says Brad Marra, vice president of Palmetto Dunes. “He was a great guy to have at Palmetto Dunes and an even greater person to know. His is a wonderful story of service and dedication with a lasting impression on all of us.”

South Carolina golf resortSammy, who was named the 2009 Employee of the Year by the Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association and recently featured in an article in the Hilton Head Island Packet, is known for his attention to detail, making sure golfers get off on time. A veteran who stormed Normandy in World War II, he’s known for his meticulous efficiency.

He also has a heart for charity and even searches for lost golf balls on his own time, donating them to a local church for their use in fundraising events. Sammy retired to Hilton Head Island in 1978 after a career working for the American Can Company. 

When asked about his favorite part of his years at Palmetto Dunes, Sammy says it’s the people and the chance to stay active. In an Island Packet article featuring him several years ago, he said, “That's why I do it at my age, just to talk to people…I try to get them laughing. The Jones course has a hole on the ocean, so I tell them, ‘When you get to the 10th green, don't go swimming or nothing.’”

Morning Drive: Ginella on where to play on Hilton Head Island

Matt Ginella, host of Morning Drive on the Golf Channel, mentioned our Robert Trent Jones golf course as one of the best Hilton Head golf courses to play. Watch the segment on Hilton Head here:

The Importance of Club Fittings to Your Golf Game

Hilton Head golf club fittingsAccording to Palmetto Dunes professional club fitter Rod Thompson, going through a club fitting is a “no brainer.”“It’s like a custom suit,” he says.  “A $1,000 suit from Brooks Brothers will fit different than a $100 suit off the rack from Joseph A. Banks.” 

Thompson is actually one of an elite group of Plane Truth instructors throughout the nation, meaning that he had to serve an apprenticeship under Jim Hardy of the Plane Truth Golf Institute in Houston, Texas. Thompson has been certified for 10 years and he’s up to a level 2 out of 3. 

 “I do the fitting and always start with the irons because the ground is going to give me a lot of information,” says Thompson. “Also my eyes will show me the ball flight and my ears are going to tell me how it sounds. A lot of information comes out of a club fitting.”

 Thompson feels it’s better to get a person’s swing a little oriented before starting a fitting. He also prefers doing it outside where true ball flight analysis can be calculated. “The tall and short golfers are very likely going to need something,” he says. “Golf clubs right off the rack probably won’t work for them because their bodies aren’t normal in proportion, regardless of their swing shape.” 

Thompson, a native of Orchard Lake, Mich., turned professional at the age of 18 and eventually became a head pro at Burning Tree Country Club in Michigan. He started making golf clubs in 1986 while at Kenwood Country Club in Maryland, which is where he honed in on ball flight. 

“If I saw that a swing was working but the ball flight told me something different, then that threw up a red flag,” Thompson says. “That’s what got me into fitting. Golf clubs are expensive so it’s important that they fit. I like to say, ‘clubs that fit better hit better,’ and they really do. Women, juniors and seniors in particular usually need fittings and I do the fitting complimentary.”

According to Thompson, it’s all about ball flight and impact. “It’s fun for me,” he says.  “But I also know it’s especially fun when you are the person who is getting properly fit!”

Palmetto Dunes offers free club fittings based on availability at the Robert Trent Jones Hilton Head golf course. To schedule your fitting with Thompson or for more information, call 866-650-4130.

Heritage Week on Hilton Head Island Sends Matt Kuchar Home a Winner

It’s hard to believe the much-awaited annual RBC Heritage golf tournament is here and gone once again! We had a great week, despite it being a bit soggy, hosting lots of events at our Robert Trent Jones golf course and enjoying a variety of media coverage associated with the tournament. Mutt Kuchar ended up taking home the Tartan jacket after a thrilling conclusion to the golf tournament!

Hilton Head golf resort

On Monday, April 14, we had lots of fun with John Maginnes when he hosted his Maginnes on Tap radio show live from the Jones course. Here he is with Brad Marra of Palmetto Dunes:

On Tuesday, April 15, NFL pro-bowler and golf lover Sterling Sharpe visited the Jones course. Sharpe, who was great with fans, especially the kids, signed autographs and in between the rain headed out on the course for some golf demonstrations.

South Carolina golf resort

During the week, we also had record apparel sales. It seems everyone was ready for some new spring duds to wear on the green! The ECCO Golf Van really helped spur the sales with their amazing golf footwear.

We were so excited that Matt Ginella, host of Morning Drive on the Golf Channel, mentioned our Robert Trent Jones golf course as one of the best Hilton Head golf courses to play. Watch the segment on Hilton Head here:

To see more photos from the 2014 RBC Heritage follow our Pinterest board below:

Follow Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort's board RBC Heritage Golf Tournament on Pinterest.

Want to come enjoy Hilton Head Island golf yourself? Book your tee time or your golf getaway online or give us a call at 866-650-4130.

TripAdvisor Users Give Hilton Head Island and Palmetto Dunes Activities Top Props

South Carolina tennis resortTripAdvisor recently released its 2014 Travelers Choice Awards, which ranked the United States’ best islands. Guess who came in at No. 9? Hilton Head Island! Says TripAdvisor of our beautiful island: “Long known as a golfer's paradise, Hilton Head Island is heaven for any type of sports enthusiast: tennis, volleyball, polo, championship golf on some of the best fairways in the United States.”

And even better, two of Palmetto Dunes’ attractions topped in at Nos. 4 and 5 as top Hilton Head attractions recommended by travelers. Users of the site voted Hilton Head Outfitters, the official bike shop and outfitters of Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, as the No. 4 out of 59 attractions reviewed on Hilton Head with more than 100 reviews. The Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center came in at No. 5 with nearly 70 reviews.

Here’s what a few TripAdvisor users had to say about Hilton Head Outfitters:

“We were staying in Palmetto Dunes and found that this place had the best selection, best prices and best customer service! For no charge, they even delivered all the bikes that we reserved (which we made all the reservations online) and picked them up the day that we left. It really helped us out since we had no way of transporting the bikes ourselves. If you are looking for a bike rental during your stay in Palmetto Dunes, look no further and go here…highly recommended!”

And about the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center:

“This is a great location for a tennis vacation. There are plenty of courts for play! The clay is well kept and the condition of these courts is far better than those at Kiawah Island Resort! The pro shop is well stocked with lots of great gear! The staff [is] warm and friendly.”

How are the winners selected? The Island winners are determined based on the quality and quantity of the most highly-rated hotels, restaurants and attractions listed on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. The attractions are ranked based on the number and quality of reviews.

It’s no surprise that several of our services ranked tops for users. In 2013, the resort, our golf courses, The Dunes House and Shelter Cove Marina all received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.

Come visit Hilton Head Island for yourself and stay at Palmetto Dunes to see what all the fuss is about! Just give us a call at 866-744-7558 or visit www.palmettodunes.com. And if you had a positive experience at Palmetto Dunes, we really appreciate you sharing your opinion with others on TripAdvisor! Give us a review right here.

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