Classic feel for Wexford renovation


Sean Dudley

The Wexford Plantation course on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, has reopened after a major renovation led by Arnold Palmer’s design firm.

The Wexford course was originally designed by Willard Byrd and opened in 1983, closing in April for the renovation. The 82 year old Palmer flew into Hilton Head to reopen the course in October. The club has also recently spent US$3.9 million renovating its Coastal-style clubhouse. 

The aim of the renovation was to transform the playing strategy, characteristics and look of the Wexford layout, while also incorporating design changes that will improve drainage and reduce maintenance costs.

“Our intent was to create a new design in the spirit and tradition of America’s classic golf courses and bring a modern interpretation or twist to their enduring standard and a few select template holes such as the Road Hole, Redan, Alps or Biarritz,” said senior architect Brandon Johnson, lead designer on the Wexford project. 

His colleague Thad Layton added: “Wexford is by no means a replica course: we take inspiration from certain places and our inspiration for the Wexford Plantation remodel is founded in traditional and classic golf course architecture.”

The Wexford renovation encompassed repositioning and reorienting tee complexes, significant bunker removal and strategic old/new bunker placement and modifying, along with tree removal, to increase sun exposure and widen fairway corridors.

“We wanted to give the golfer several options of play off the tee and around the greens to cause him or her to think about their upcoming shot,” Johnson said. “By significantly reducing the amount of bunker space, repositioning them in more visible and strategic locations and widening the fairways we were able to add a previously missing strategic element to the golf course while allowing more room and avenues of play for the higher handicap player.”