Port Royal Golf Club: Robber’s Row Course (Hilton Head Island, SC on 12/24/17)

This trip to Hilton Head wasn’t supposed to be a “golf trip” and I let my family decide what we were doing every day. They got the pick of the best weather days for our activities and we toured Savannah, browsed around Sea Pines, and took a dolphin tour. If you have a sweet tooth like me then make sure to hit up River Street Sweets in Savannah! I had some pecan pie and pralines there, and both were excellent!

My family decided that they didn’t want to do much on Sunday afternoon, so around noon I frantically started looking for a place to golf. The trouble was (at least from a golfer’s perspective) that it was Christmas Eve! Most courses had their last tee time around 1pm, which is understandable considering that it is one of the most special family days of the year. I searched every golf site I could think of for local tee times and then tried to figure out where each course was in relation to where we were staying. I read some reviews and finally just closed my eyes and picked one!

My very scientific method of picking a course had me rushing over to Port Royal to play the Robber’s Row course. The reviews said it was in decent shape and that’s all I really cared about. I checked in, was told that I was the last tee time for the day, and followed another single off the first tee. I’ve played on Christmas and Thanksgiving before and feel bad for keeping the employees! I made sure not to dally and hustled around in about 2 hours and 50 minutes. I sure love a quick round of golf!

The first thing you’ll notice at Robber’s Row is a marker on the first tee that shares about the history of the property. I’m not a history buff, but apparently an old Civil War fort was located nearby. The fort was originally named Fort Walker and was a confederate fort near the Port Royal Sound. After Union forces took over the fort in the Battle of Port Royal, the fort was renamed Fort Welles. There are multiple commemorative markers throughout the course, which add a nice touch and seemed worth mentioning!

The history of the area is impressive and as far as the design history of Robber’s Row goes, it is also fairly impressive. Well known architects in the southeast, George Cobb and Willard Byrd, designed Robber’s Row in 1967 and Pete Dye redesigned the course in 1994. I didn’t know any of this at the time I played, but Dye’s touches are evident all over! I guess I should have used a more scientific method to pick where I played, hehe.

I played the gold tees which are 72.6/133/6575. From there you’ll find what I’d guess is a fairly typical Hilton Head Island course from tee to green. Robber’s Row is a flat, narrow design that works it way through a community. I’m reserving the right to change my very general opinion about Hilton Head golf though!

I don’t necessarily paint the prettiest picture by saying that, but the layout had some charm given all the surrounding homes. Overhanging trees can affect play on the opening tee shots, so it gives the course a mature look that modern golf lacks. As you get further into the round you’ll encounter doglegs and points that pinch, making it imperative to find the fairways. You might even have to try to shape some shots! If you are a straight hitter, then tee to green shouldn’t be too bad. If you aren’t, then get used to the sound of your ball rattling around in the trees!

There are the usual water hazards at Robber’s Row that you’d expect to find at a coastal course, but nothing excessive. The biggest challenge is going to be the green complexes! By far, the greens are the course’s defining design feature. Unfortunately, I don’t mean that in a good way!

Pete Dye redesigned the course in 1994 and while I’m unable to find any articles about what exactly he did, these greens had his writing all over them! These are the type of greens that suck the fun out of the game as sides fall off, there are narrow tongues that cannot be accessed, and they basically are continuous slopes. Sadly, the greens repel shots and offer more bad bounces than good!

My dislike for Dye aside, I think you could still score well here. The distance isn’t overwhelming as there are some short par 4’s and I was able to reach two of the par 5’s. One of those reachable par 5’s is the 14th hole which is 472 yards. It is the tiniest bit of a double dogleg and the tee shot plays over a creek. All things considered, you can knock down some flags at Robber’s Row with your short irons. You just have to watch out for the 9th, 10th, and 11th which are all long par 4’s.

As I had gathered prior to my round, the conditions were good. I got caught in a bit of a downpour which softened the course, but everything was firm prior to that. The firmness always adds an extra challenge but I like getting some release in the fairways! There were some re-sodded areas but I always had good lies in the fairways. The greens were firm, almost as if they were newer. I struggled to get chips close as they hit firm and released. The greens rolled at a semi-fast pace and were smooth. I paid $40 and would call it a good value.

I think the bottom line is if you don’t mind some Dye influence, then Robber’s Row is a solid, mid-level choice. It has a nice bit of history, which adds some fascination!

#1 (322 yard par 4):

#2 (484 yard par 5):

#3 (405 yard par 4):

#4 (207 yard par 3):

#5 (384 yard par 4):

#6 (576 yard par 5):

#7 (318 yard par 4):

#8 (173 yard par 3):

#9 (420 yard par 4):

#10 (441 yard par 4):

#11 (441 yard par 4):

#12 (159 yard par 3):

#13 (387 yard par 4):

#14 (472 yard par 5):

#15 (188 yard par 3):

#16 (265 yard par 4):

#17 (425 yard par 4):

#18 (508 yard par 5):


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