First Tee project on Hilton Head will break ground shortly


First Tee project on Hilton Head will break ground shortly
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

Golf development organisation The First Tee is almost ready to break ground on a dedicated facility for introducing young people to the game on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

The First Tee's Lowcountry chapter plans to construct the six hole course and recreational facility, which has been designed by golf architect Clyde Johnston. “The project is being built at the existing Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head,” said Johnston. “They have some extra land and the Town of Hilton Head Island is leasing about 16.5 acres of land for US$1 a year for 50 years. Overall we have about 18 or 19 acres to work with.”

“Most First Tee chapters are located in a municipal golf course,” executive director Mike Davis told the Savannah Morning News. “However, there are no municipal courses here, so we had to construct our own. Our emphasis here is to help our students grow to be good citizens and to make healthy choices. Hopefully, they will also develop a love for the great game of golf as well.”

The group has raised US$1.3 million of the total US$1.5 million needed to build the facility, which will be open for public use whenever First Tee classes are not in session.

“The town land was previously used for two different construction companies staging and storage areas so 65 per cent is open. The topography is gently rolling like most of the island. This is actually the fourth site I've looked at for a similar facility. It really took the Boys and Girl Club leaders to recognise that the First Tee programme and values align perfectly with that of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.”

The facility will include a range tee, 200 feet wide and 150 feet deep, with 20 hitting stations and a strip of concrete at the rear for all weather mats, a 320 yard long range and a 50 by 250 foot teaching tee. Five target greens on the range will serve as greens for the par three course, which will include holes from 55-120 yards. An 8,000 sq ft putting green and a 7,500 sq ft chipping green will complete the facilities. Johnston plans to excavate a pond of around one acre to give the fill needed to build the complex, and also to store irrigation water. The project is currently awaiting approval from state planners, but Johnston says he hopes to break ground in March and have it open in the autumn.