"Good things are happening at Sea Palms," is the mantra of the resort, which is undergoing extensive renovations, beginning with the opening of a new practice facility and golf course.
Sea Palms Resort and Conference Center has long been a vacation and corporate meeting destination on St. Simons Island. Developed in the late 1960s, the resort has had numerous owners and changes over its six-decade history. Two back-to-back hurricanes in 2017 and 2018 took a toll on the Sea Palms property, prompting the recent owner, the Ardent Group, to sell the property earlier this year.
Enter Sea Palms Coastal Management LLC – a new ownership team committed to reestablishing Sea Palms Resort and Conference Center as the hospitality, corporate meetings, recreation, and entertainment hub of St. Simons Island.
The new ownership team joined together to acquire the assets of the Sea Palms Resort & Conference Center in mid-May. Comprised of the investment group – RREAF Holdings LLC of Dallas, Texas, DPL Capital of St. Augustine, Fla., and Sea Palms Coastal Management LLC as the managing partner, the team is headed by Will Carter, formerly of Chattanooga, and now residing on St. Simons Island.
The new ownership group fully recognizes the potential of Sea Palms Resort and Conference Center. The resort’s beauty, mid-island location and recreational amenities make it a valuable asset of the island community. New ownership is focused on reestablishing Sea Palms as a world-class resort attracting new club members, golfers, vacationers, wedding groups and corporate guests – locally, regionally and nationally.
A major transformation is in the making. Virtually every corner of the Sea Palms property is being touched, vastly updating and improving the resort. This transformation is especially evident on the Sea Palms 18-hole championship golf course.
Originally designed by George Cobb and Tom Jackson in 1967, the Sea Palms golf course is well-established as one of the finest tracks in the Golden Isles, offering challenging play for golfers of all levels. The course's last five holes are considered amongst the finest finishing holes in the region.
George Cobb, also known for his outstanding work on the par-3 course at Augusta National, as well as Quail Hollow and more than 100 others, was quoted as saying that the Sea Palms course was one of his favorites in his extensive design portfolio.
The Chattanooga-based golf design firm, King Collins has made its mark on the course, helping with a $2 million facelift. Virtually every hole has been touched, masterfully reshaping the course with special emphasis on holes 15, 16 and 18. The course has been totally reseeded from tee to greens with specially blended tiff turfs. Laser-leveling and reshaping of all tee boxes has been completed. Additionally, new tee monuments, tee markers and coquina shell cart paths now grace the course, along with renovated comfort stations and the 9th hole halfway house adding improvement to the infrastructure of the course.
With the “new” course complete, who better to try it out first than the Sea Palms Club members? The first member-guest tournament took place Oct. 10-12.
Named "The Miracle" by its designers, King Collins, this new club members-only practice experience sets a higher standard for facilities of its kind anywhere in the region. Located on the par-5 ninth hole of the former Sea Palms West course, the new 4½-acre facility offers club members exciting possibilities for improving their total short game. The Miracle enjoyed its grand opening on Sept. 27.
Poised on 4½ acres punctuated by wide fairways, ancient live oaks and lagoons, The Miracle possesses unusual typography enhanced by unexpected changes in elevation created by the presence of ancient sand dunes. The result is a practice course that challenges every stroke in the short game.
One putting area alone is over 1-acre in size, offering multiple holes from many vantage points and elevations. Steep bunkers, reminiscent of St. Andrews links courses, challenge golfers to get up and out, the best way possible. Located adjacent to the existing Sea Palms driving range, the convenience of the two allows members to practice the total game – driving, chipping and putting.
“The Miracle is a far more than a place to practice your short game. It’s an exceptional golf practice experience. Club members revel in the variety and entertainment quality of The Miracle," says Will Carter, managing partner of the resort. "This is a place to be challenged, work at mastering your strokes, and most important, to have a great time with fellow members and guests. It’s one-of-a-kind experience on St. Simons Island.”
The turf material chosen for The Miracle also makes it unique amongst practice facilities. 419 Bermuda grass was used across the fairway acres so that it could be mowed at one level offering golfers maximum opportunity for strokes from every angle. Ultra-dwarf Tiff Eagle Bermuda grass used on putting greens makes for velvet surfaces for precision putting.
“There is really nothing like it in the State of Georgia,” said Rob Collins, course designer. “Our original concept was to create a three-hole loop practice course at The Miracle. But then we decided to expand 4 on that and take full advantage of the beauty and diversity of the land."
The result is a practice course that allows members plentiful opportunities on a 5-hole system.
The Sea Palms Club has a number of new membership opportunities for golfers and families. Until the end of the year, special incentives are being offered, and everyone is invited to experience the new fall menu at the restaurant, or a favorite beverage at the bar. For more information, contact 912-434-5368.
Article written and published by Coastal Illustrated.