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Robert Trent Jones Course ranked among America’s “Most Improved Golf Courses”

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Golf Advisor recently revealed its highly anticipated, annual collection of Golfers’ Choice lists of the best golf courses in the United States, which can be found within dedicated pages on GolfPass.

aerial view of robert trent jones course

In the Golfers' Choice 2021 ranking of America’s “Top 25 Most Improved Golf Courses,” the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort was rated No. 14.

“2020 has energized more people to get outside and try new activities such as golf, and that heightened interest has carried into 2021 which has been great for our courses at Palmetto Dunes,” said Palmetto Dunes Director of Golf Clark Sinclair.

Relied on by recreational golfers for its 1-million-plus, user-generated golf course reviews and expert travel content, Golf Advisor recently completed its integration to GolfPass, the sport’s most comprehensive digital destination and membership program. The Golfers’ Choice lists — recognizing top courses in 10 categories as determined by golfers who shared their reviews throughout the previous year — are revealed each January and are Golf Advisor’s most popular lists.

About the Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes, the raters wrote: “Tee to green in great shape, including bunkers. Friendly staff, great selection in the clubhouse.”

“We all love a comeback story, especially in a dizzying 2020,” wrote GolfPass. “As businesses everywhere adjusted to a new normal and COVID-19 restrictions, some golf course operators were able to not just stay open but thrive. The following 25 courses earned higher ratings in 2020 than they did in 2019. By reading your course reviews, we can see clues as to what was the spark that caused the turnaround. In some cases, the improvement is thanks to new ownership or management. Other times, new greens or a clubhouse is to thank. Sometimes it's as simple as better weather helping a course thrive. Regardless, we love seeing signs of positivity.

For more than 50 years, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort has stood as one of the premier golfing destinations in the southeast. All three golf courses at Palmetto Dunes — each one distinctively different and uniquely appealing — have been named the “South Carolina Golf Course of the Year.”

The oldest and most player-friendly of the trio is the Robert Trent Jones Course, which winds its way through an 11-mile network of navigable lagoons and along the island's main thoroughfare, U.S. 278. Its signature hole — the par-five 10th, which was named a South Carolina Dream Hole — offers sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and is widely considered one of the most spectacular holes in the United States. One of only two oceanfront holes on Hilton Head Island, the course’s dramatic 10th delights golfers of every skill level.

An extensive renovation of the Jones Oceanfront Course involved reshaping and restructuring tees, greens and bunkers. Workers also elevated and reshaped the fairways, and improved natural drainage with the addition of the unique, 11-mile lagoon system that weaves its way through and around all three golf courses.

Adding a set of junior or “short course” tees to the Jones Oceanfront Course’s layout enabled the resort to launch the Palmetto Dunes Junior Golf Academy and underscored Greenwood’s commitment to the next generation of golfers. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, an Audubon International program, has also designated the course a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” for its commitment to providing a sanctuary for wildlife.

“2020 was a remarkable year for the game and that was reflected in the more than 265,000 reviews we received, a 72 percent increase year over year,” said Brandon Tucker, senior managing editor for GolfPass. “The golf courses that were able to navigate the pandemic and still provide a safe and exemplary experience were rewarded by grateful golfers who found a refuge at their facility and thanked them for their efforts.”

Unlike golf course rankings published by industry insiders who have access to golf courses the public may never have the opportunity to play, Golf Advisor’s Golfers’ Choice lists are totally consumer driven – by recreational golfers, for recreational golfers. Ages, handicaps and budgets of golfers using the website run the gamut, so the 1-million-plus reviews Golf Advisor has accumulated showcase the golf course characteristics that are the most important to avid golfers across the country.

“The average star rating from our community was at all-time highs,” Tucker said. “And perhaps due to travel restrictions and guidelines, local-oriented courses within and near metro areas appeared to score particularly well in this year’s lists.”

More than 4,200 golf courses received the minimum 10 reviews in 2020 to qualify for consideration. All Golfers’ Choice lists are based on more than 265,000 user-generated reviews received throughout the year.

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