Stay & Play: Haig Point at Daufuskie Island is Lowcountry living at its best
Evan Schiller/Haig Point
Located between Hilton Head Island and Savannah sits Daufuskie Island, which epitomizes Lowcountry living. There are no bridges to get there, only a handful of paved roads, and golf cart is the preferred means of transportation. Daufuskie is in a world of its own, and Haig Point is its pearl.
A short ferry ride (that comes with a dolphin escort) from Hilton Head takes you to a simpler time at Haig Point. If you arrive at dawn, you will be greeted by the sun glistening off an oyster shell shoreline. It’s the type of surreal setting that gets engrained in your mind for daydreams. Ancient oaks, spanish moss, Adirondack chairs, and not a worry in the world awaits at the end of your dockside arrival.
The hardest decision I made during my 3-day, 2-night stay was whether or not to plop down in a hammock that was begging for company on my short walk to the Strachan Mansion, where I was staying. I chose the hammock. That’s when I knew my New York City lifestyle had to be left behind.
After a few peaceful moments rocking under a rising sun, it was time to check in. While Haig Point isn’t a place for itineraries, I did have golf on my schedule. It just so happened to be the only thing on my schedule. This is what it’s like to stay at Haig Point and play its Signature Course.
Course: The Signature Course – Calibogue (76.6 rating/147 slope)
Course Type: Private
Accommodations: The Strachan Mansion
This mansion built in 1910 leaves you in awe of the original craftsmanship, and in relief that there’s a Starbucks downstairs. Old meets new at the Strachan Mansion.
From the moment you step foot inside, someone is ready to greet you with a smile and eager to assist. And not from behind a hotel counter that feels more like a barricade. A wooden table sits in the middle of the lobby to emphasize the personal attention you receive from the staff who feel more like knowledgeable friends.
The main floor also features a small bar, a market for essentials and snacks, a game room with a pool table and a study area that’s perfect for remote work. Each room comes with its own golf cart and a charging barn is located adjacent to the mansion. If you explore the island as much as I did, you’ll want to remember to plug in before bed.
You know what your room decor will be before even turning the doorknob on a thick wooden door. It sets the tone for a capsule of timeless comfort. The sunlight beams through large windows on the dark wooden fixtures and white linens to create a scene fresh out of an HGTV show.
My biggest takeaway from the room was the king-size bed. If I could sleep on one bed for the rest of my life, it would be where I laid my head at the Strachan Mansion.
Food: Get dinner at The Calibogue Club and ask for a seat on the second-story deck. The views and the salt air breeze almost match the pleasures of the food. Fine dining free of any pretension can be found here. Order the lobster mac and cheese. You’ll thank me later.
Shareable bites and more casual meals are available at the golf course Grill Room and just next door to the Caliboogue Club at the poolside bar. Go for a dip, grab a drink then walk through the gate to enjoy a nearby firepit on the beach. It’s an ideal happy hour setting.
Course Difficulty: Between all the tee box combination options on this Rees Jones design, there are 9 ways to play The Signature Course. It plays between a 69.7/128 to 76.6/147 rating and slope. It’s a challenge for highly skilled golfers from the tips, and beginner-friendly from the forward tees.
There is major trouble to be found just off every fairway, sometimes even in the fairway, in addition to beautifully crafted bunkers throughout, undulated fairways, a handful of semi-island greens and pure putting surfaces. It’s hard to keep your focus on several tee boxes and greens when nearby crashing waves are grabbing your attention. I played from a variety of tee boxes to soak it all in and I found the back tees pushed my limits, and beyond in some instances, as a 10-handicap. The Signature Course is difficult in the ways you want a course to be difficult. You won’t walk away feeling it was too easy or unfairly hard. If you can’t figure out which tee box to play from, the course will quickly tell you.
There is also another 9-hole course, The Osprey, on-site. I was traveling with my girlfriend, who is just picking up the game, on this trip. We went out and had the Osprey to ourselves one morning. I found that to be the perfect setting to play a stress-free 9 holes. It’s a great place to learn the basics or work out the kinks in your game. Also designed by Jones, this layout features island greens and heavy doglegs to keep golfers of all skill levels interested.
How To Get There: From the Haig Point embarkation center on Hilton Head, it’s a 25-minute ferry ride. The ferry makes 18 round trips per day so don’t stress if you miss one!
Fun Facts: The Signature course is actually 20 holes. On the par-3 8th and 17th holes, there are two entirely different holes to be played. This helps for pace of play purposes and also provides regulars with options when they feel like changing it up. Plus, if a storm surge were to ever breach one of the waterfront holes, the other is elevated to withstand the elements. Knock on wood this won’t ever come into play.
If you’re in the mood to take a day trip off the island, Habour Town is just on the other side of Calibogue Sound. You can see the Harbour Town lighthouse from Haig Point. A water taxi will have you there in just a few minutes. Bring your clubs if you’re looking to sneak in a round on a Top 100 Course!
Favorite Holes: The full collection of par-3s. That goes for both the Signature and Osprey Courses.
The fifth hole is when you get your first glimpse of water on the Signature course. It’s a screensaver photo op and one of many Instagram-worthy opportunities. The 17th is the most difficult and arguably the best of the bunch.
Other than the par-3s, No. 14 was my favorite hole to play. It’s a par-5 that really makes you think through each short. There’s no room for error with wetlands surrounding the green in direction.
Take it from me: Put some time aside for a quick trip outside the gates of Haig Point. The Daufuskie Crab Company at Freeport Marina is an enjoyable 20-minute golf cart ride away. It’s your classic “no shoes, no shirts, no problems” kind of vibe. The tiki bar is an ideal setting to spend an afternoon munching on fried seafood with a cold drink.
I didn’t love: That my stay was only 2 nights! It went by far too fast. I would’ve loved to have spent an entire week at Haig Point to get a full reset from mainland life.
If you need non-stop action, this isn’t the place for you. Night owls will have to leave bright city lights behind. The only thing with lights on after 10 p.m. is the sky, but that makes it a great place to stargaze given the lack of buildings and streetlights.
I loved: The escape from reality that Haig Point provides. My visit came fresh off an extended lockdown period in a New York City apartment. It was a breath of Low Country fresh air in a golf cart on what felt like an island playground of my own. At the very least, it felt as those I had a golf course of my own. Going back to my crowded local muni was quite an adjustment.
While the golf was memorable, hospitality was top notch and food leaves you wanting more, the best moments came from meandering around Haig Point and finding my own little pieces of heaven. Those came in the form of Adirondack chairs that felt like they were reserved just for us off the beaten path. It was the right place at the right time for me. Come to think of it, I can’t imagine there’s a wrong time to be at Haig Point.