Sea Pines’ Plantation Club Sets Standard for Golf Luxury

By:Bob Gillespie


For 14 months, Sea Pines’ vice president for sports and operations, Cary Corbitt, watched the new Plantation Club clubhouse rise like a proud parent. It’s on the site of the former clubhouse at the resort’s Heron Point by Pete Dye and Ocean courses, and Corbitt finds it hard not to, well, gush.

“This is setting the standard for all we’re doing (in Sea Pines) and all we will do in the future,” he said. “This offers everything of a private golf club experience, but it’ll be offered to all to enjoy on a daily-fee basis.”

“Palatial” comes to mind when entering the Plantation Club, from its bright, open spaces to luxurious furniture and wall appointments and from a 2,000-square-foot pro shop to wide porches overlooking the tees of the two golf courses. At 23,000 square feet overall, the clubhouse’s main components are its classic living room lounge, 2,000-square-foot junior ballroom, 2,000-square-foot grill/restaurant and a huge, 2,000-square-foot locker room. And that doesn’t include another 23,000 square feet of administrative and cart storage space below the main level.

Corbitt is especially proud of the Live Oak, a “farm-to-table restaurant,” with its adjoining bar emphasizing glass and open space. “The vistas from 16 feet (above ground level), you can see 50-plus acres of golf courses, lagoons and wildlife,” he said. Furnishings and floors are all reclaimed Savannah brick from an 1800s-era warehouse (which was used in, and saved from, the previous clubhouse) and flooring salvaged from Virginia barns and restored to a rich luster.

“The level of detail is not commonplace, and we’re extremely proud of that,” he said.

Adjacent to the clubhouse, a new 2,400-square-foot Learning Center is equipped with indoor hitting bays and the latest golf technology: TrackMan launch monitors, SAM PuttLab, V1 video analysis and K-Vest 3D motion analysis. All of it enables director Tim Cooke, one of the top 40 instructors under 40 in the US, and his staff to work with golfers, some of whom are, PGA Tour and LPGA players as well as weekend players.

The clubhouse complex is the conclusion of the biggest project that began after the RiverStone Group (owned by the Goodwin family) bought Sea Pines in 2005 for $23.4 million, according to the Island Packet newspaper. “We had a lot of things that needed attention,” said Steve Birdwell, Sea Pines president. Architect Pete Dye was tasked with redesigning the former Marsh Course into Heron Point in 2006, and Birdwell said that afterward, “we knew we couldn’t be successful with this golf facility without a new clubhouse.”

The clubhouse opened in time for Birdwell to lead RBC and Boeing representatives on a tour before the 2014 RBC heritage, and he said “they were very happy with the Plantation Club,” which hosted pro-am registration and post-event entertainment. “We wanted to make them aware of what we were doing, so they could think about if they want to use this in the future,” Birdwell said.

Corbitt figures that’s a slam dunk. “The casual feel, the history of Sea Pines and the golf courses in black-and-white pictures on the walls. … When you see how the building flows, you know when you walk in that you’re in a special place.”

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