Hilton Head's Palmetto Dunes

As we all sit in the dead of this bleak New England winter we desperately need something to look forward to besides endless snow storms and more weeks of below freezing temperatures. Cabin fever definitely takes a toll.

No matter that Punxsutawney Phil said there would be only six more weeks of winter on February 2nd. Obviously he’s never spent a winter in New England. The only antidote for New England golfers is to plan the annual spring golf trip to a warmer climate. Having that to look forward to is the only road back to sanity

Alas, there is good news- beginning Feb. 13, JetBlue Airways begins flying into the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport from Boston Logan.  A new package from Hilton Head Island’s Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, named to Travel + Leisure’s list of World’s Best Family Resorts 2013, combines JetBlue’s competitive fares with the best golf on the resort’s three championship golf courses, including one oceanfront. JetBlue also has a “first bag free” policy which conveniently takes care of toting the old golf clubs.

The Blue & Greens package gives guests a nonrefundable $200 gift card good for any flight with JetBlue, 3 or more nights in a 2-bedroom vacation villa at Palmetto Dunes, two rounds of golf on any of the resort’s three award-winning golf courses, two hours of tennis court time daily at Tennis Magazine’s No. 1 tennis facility in the Carolinas, three days of bike rentals for biking the island’s 50 miles of paved bike paths, as well as preferred rates and priority access to all resort activities and amenities.

As if that wasn’t good enough, pricing for the package starts at $180 per person per night based on availability for a minimum of three nights of accommodations, a 20% savings off regular resort rates and they won’t ding you for goofy add-on fees- all taxes and fees are included. For a resort of this pedigree those are stupendous rates.

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is a 2,000-acre destination located in the middle of Hilton Head Island, S.C., bounded by 3 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach on one side and a sheltered Intracoastal Waterway marina on the other. It includes three high quality golf courses designed by some of the game’s best architects and they all bear the distinctive design features favored by the designers. These are not your indistinguishable ho-hum resort layouts. These are real deal, big boy tracks that will engage every level of golfer.

In fact each course at Palmetto Dunes is identified simply by the architect’s name.

The Robert Trent Jones, Sr. course was one of the first on the island dating back to the 1960’s and was renovated in 2002 by long time Jones design associate, Massachusetts based Roger Rulewich. It is said in golf course lore that the nearby Harbour Town Golf Links, home of the RBC Heritage PGA Tour event, was Pete Dye’s reaction to Jones’s Palmetto Dunes.

The next course at Palmetto Dunes was done by George Fazio, a great player and excellent designer in his own right and this was where he brought his young nephew Tom into the business.  Tom went on to one of the greatest careers in the history of course architecture and some of the bunker design elements Tom used later in his career are noticeable at this course.

The final course built at Palmetto Dunes was designed by the legendary Arthur Hills in the 1980’s and tends to be more of a trickier shot maker’s course with liberal use of water hazards. On warm days you are guaranteed to see alligators sunning themselves on the banks of the lagoons.

Since you’ll be flying in and out of Savannah, on the beginning or ending of your Palmetto Dunes vacation, you might want to consider going down to the city’s historic district for the legendary St Patrick’s Day festival. A lot of New Englanders think the parade in South Boston is the be all and end all of St Patty’s Day parties but they have never been to Savannah.

My old and dear friend, the late, great James “Bucky” O’Brien, long time head pro at Country Club of Greenfield ( Mass), a man who was at least 100% Irish, used to make an annual pilgrimage to Savannah just for St Patty’s Day.

More than 300,000 people are expected to visit Savannah to help celebrate the second largest St. Patrick Day Parade in the United States and to enjoy the city-wide festivities. Held in Savannah’s National Landmark Historic District, the event has been going since 1813. Expect to see approximately 350 floats and marching units featuring representatives from various local Irish groups, Irish pipe bands, local and regional celebrities, area politicians and military units make regular appearances in Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. You may even have the chance to drink green beer or to sample emerald-colored grits, for a true taste of St. Patrick’s Day, Savannah-style.

For the lowdown on Savannah’s St Patrick’s Day visit http://www.savannah.com/savannahs-st-patricks-day-celebration/

To book the Palmetto Dunes package or for more information, call 877-567-6513 or visit www.palmettodunes.com.