Sea Pines Country Club (SPCC) has quietly flown under the radar for years, which is quite a feat considering its location on golf-crazed Hilton Head Island. What’s more, the club is situated just inside the gates of the famed Sea Pines Resort, home of Harbour Town Golf Links and the PGA TOUR’s RBC Heritage.
With the unveiling of its re-imagined golf experience on Nov. 1, however, SPCC will be thrust into the limelight long enough for golfers realize just how special this Lowcountry enclave is. The project features a new bag drop station, expanded practice facility, a complete re-grassing of the course’s tees, greens and fairways, a new indoor teaching and practice center, Golf Shop updates with coastal-style furniture, fixtures and finishes, and a new golf cart fleet.
Golf course architect Phil Smith, who created the master plan for SPCC’s Arnold Palmer- and Clyde Johnston-designed layout, worked alongside General Manager & Chief Operating Officer Robbie Ames and Golf Course Superintendent Tom Metzger to complete the enhancements. Jacksonville-based MacCurrach Golf oversaw shaping and construction of the practice facility and updates to several bunkers throughout the course.
The new bag drop station is the first dramatic enhancement members encounter upon entering the club parking lot. Featuring the same color palette as the clubhouse, it houses a new staging area, club repair services, storage for up to 100 bags, ice and water station and comfortable seating for changing shoes. Here, members can pick-up their new Club Car Tempo golf carts outfitted with Visage GPS, USB outlets and comfortable bucket seats.
The tee area at the new practice range is now four times larger and accommodates twice as many golfers with 18 hitting bays. For longer hitters, the range floor was lengthened by 25 yards, allowing for 260 yards of carry. Eight new target pins are placed at various hitting angles at 70- to 250-yard intervals for fine-tuning distance control. On days when the grass portion of the range is closed, members can hit off new TurfHound artificial tee stations.
“I would put it right up there among the best practice facilities in the area,” says James Swift, SPCC Director of Golf. “We had been landlocked and limited in what we could offer. Now we can host golf schools, clinics and other instructional programming. With everything we feature, we’re now a golf purist’s club.”
The short game zone houses a multi-tiered chipping green that’s three times larger than the previous one, and also features two practice bunkers for working on a variety of sand shots. Unique to SPCC, the gold tees and occasionally the blue tees for hole No. 1 are situated on the east side of the 5,000-square-foot practice green, adjacent to the putting surface and featuring the same mowing height.
New-Look Golf Course
After members warm up at the practice range, it’s on to the club’s 6,429-yard Lowcountry layout. There they will discover beautifully mown Celebration Bermuda grass, the PGA Tour-caliber turf used on Harbour Town Golf Links and Heron Point by Pete Dye at neighboring Sea Pines Resort. With a single strand of grass throughout the fairways, members can expect consistent lies.
“Tom and his team will be able to create visually stunning mowing patterns like you’d see at Harbour Town,” Swift says. “Celebration Bermuda is the gold standard of turf in the Lowcountry. It also stays green longer in the fall and is quicker to come back in the spring, even as early as March.”
Arriving on the greens after navigating the Celebration Bermuda fairways, members will putt on the latest variety of TifEagle Bermuda grass. The new strands are extremely hardy and can withstand prolonged cold in the winter months and even frost. Additionally, putting surfaces have been restored to their original dimensions, allowing for more pin placements and improved approach shot receptivity.
MacCurrach Golf reshaped and enlarged several bunkers to eliminate pinch points that obstruct shots from the hazards. New sand was added atop category-leading Capillary Concrete liners to complete the look. The fairway on the ninth hole has been re-contoured and a new pot bunker has been added on the right side across from the bunker on the left side of the fairway.
Soon after the reopening of the course and practice facilities, SPCC will also unveil its new state-of-the-art indoor teaching and practice center. Dubbed “The Barn” it features the latest leading-edge technology, including “TrackMan 4” monitors with optically enhanced radar tracking and industry-leading Virtual Golf 2. An indoor hitting bay opens out onto the expanded practice range, providing members with a convenient year-round option for instruction, practice and club fitting.
The TrackMan high-definition simulator features 200 courses from around the world, bringing many of the greatest golf venues across the globe into play for members in realistic, vibrant colors. The Barn also houses a new lounge area replete with a bar, club chairs, rest rooms, flat screen TV and a curated selection of beers and wines.
“Golf is a challenging game, and we want our members to have every tool available to get better,” Swift says. “It’s also an incredibly fun game, and the simulator also gives our members and their families a golf entertainment option where they can get together, enjoy a few beverages and appetizers, and play some of the greatest courses in the world.”
The Golf Shop
Back in the Clubhouse, the Golf Shop boasts new hardwood flooring and an updated coastal color palette that coordinates with the club’s décor and the adjacent Blue Heron Pub & Grille. New built-in fixtures that increase display and storage space, and upgraded lighting enrich the overall merchandising presentation. Moveable counter and floor fixtures give the shop a more modern appearance and allow for various interior configurations to improve retail flow.
“Phil Smith Design, Tom, James and the entire team have done an amazing job of planning and executing this signature project, and the vision of our board and membership is coming to fruition,” says Ames. “To complete impactful capital improvements of this level in less than six months is astounding and a testament to the unwavering commitment of our members and our team.”