Love Golf Design reaches final stage of Sea Island redesign

  • Sea Island

    Love Golf Design is in the final stage of redesign project at Sea Island in Georgia, USA

  • Sea Island

    Construction work is under way on the Plantation course, which is expected to reopen in autumn 2019

  • Sea Island

    A sketch of the second green

  • Sea Island

    Construction work on the second green

  • Sea Island

    The club’s Driftwood putting course opened in 2018

  • Sea Island

    The new short game practice area and cottages

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

PGA Tour golfer Davis Love III’s design firm is in the final stage of a renovation and redesign project at Sea Island in Georgia, USA.

The third and final phase of the project – the redesign of the Plantation course – began in December 2018. According to Love Golf Design lead architect Scot Sherman, almost all aspects of the project have started except for grassing. All the new greens and green sites have been redesigned and constructed.

“The original nine holes of the Plantation course were designed by Walter Travis in 1928,” said Sherman. “Those holes are the front nine of today's 18-hole Plantation course. On that nine, we have mostly retained the routing, but have made major changes at the sixth by clearing and shifting the green towards an existing lagoon, which has increased the length by 30 yards and greatly improved the view,” continued Sherman. “We have also shifted the ninth green towards a stand of live oaks, which has added about 25 yards to that hole.

“On the back nine, we have reclaimed the original fourteenth hole as a par five. We have also reclaimed the original short par-four fifteenth and short par-three sixteenth holes from the original routing of those holes.

“From old photos of the Walter Travis design, we can clearly see some features we are thoughtfully bringing back. Photos show chocolate drops scattered about the old course, so we are recreating some of those features in various locations. We detect a bit of wood bulkheading around the old course, so we have borrowed that feature and applied railroad ties to a few lagoon banks and bunker faces. These sleepers are a feature we hope will create a timeless feel right from opening day.

“Also, the strategy, bunkers, green contours, and aesthetics of the course has been greatly influenced by the courses built during Mr Travis’s era. Davis, Mark [Love, Davis’s brother and business partner] and I are most comfortable thinking the way course builders did in the past. So, as we make design decisions, the historic plans and images we found in Sea Island’s archives have guided us – while also being influenced by the great Golden Age designs of the past.”

WATCH: Flyover video showing progress of work on the Plantation course.

Love Golf Design has been working at Sea Island since the beginning of 2018. The first phase of work included the construction of the Driftwood putting course, which opened in September 2018.

“This was an area of the property between the Plantation course and lodge which was underutilized,” said Sherman. “So, we decided to help Sea Island create the putting course as a way to immerse lodge guests in the golf setting and give them another venue for play. The course sits right on the ocean, so there is no better setting for an evening putting contest with friends or family.”

The second phase included the creation of an additional acre of practice tee space and new short game practice areas for the club’s Golf Performance Center. Work began in spring 2018 and the areas were opened in October in time for the PGA Tour’s RSM Classic, held on Sea Island’s Seaside and Plantation courses.

“This phase was planned to coordinate with six new cottages built adjacent to the putting course, practice areas and the back nine of the Plantation course,” said Sherman. “Again, this area has a wonderful view of the ocean and is very much a part of our idea to create an immersive golf experience.”

Love Golf Design has worked with contractor MacCurrach Golf Construction on many courses – the lead shaper for this project was Tom Weber, the brother of Davis’s caddie, Jeff. Jay Morris Construction was the railroad tie contractor who helped get the wood in place. Golf course superintendent Berry Collett is on site daily. “I learned long ago that a good design will complement maintenance – and good maintenance will complement our design,” said Sherman.

“During construction, we will all run a bit of equipment and try to make our mark – but we are certainly not highly skilled shapers. Davis enjoys operating the bulldozer, so he will have some seat time there when he can. Mark and I are better on the small equipment, so grading green contours and surrounds is where we will concentrate. Needless to say, construction is the fun part and we try to make the most of playing in the dirt!”

The course is expected to reopen in autumn 2019.