Sea Palms Golf and Tennis Resort: A 'fun, nice little resort course' on beautiful St. Simons Island
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Sea Palms Golf and Tennis Resort sits at the heart of the southeast Georgia barrier island of St. Simons, which sports six other golf courses.
The complex has 27 holes of golf. Marsh is an ever-present backdrop on this parkland design by George Cobb, a golf architect well known in the Southeast. There are a few shots over water, but not many. The greens are relatively flat and they roll true.
"This course doesn't have any spectacular holes, but it's got a lot of solid holes," said Bob Matheny, brother of Head Professional Joe Matheny. "It's got some longish par 3s, some short ones. It has a nice variety of holes."
Prime examples are the par-3 third over water and the short par-5 fourth, in which you tee off between two beautiful old oaks, carefully avoiding the pond that juts into the right fairway. There's more water as you approach the green and the fairway slopes toward it.
The 417-yard fifth has an elevated green surrounded by bunkers, so your approach must be high and accurate. The tee shot on No. 7 is awkward because the tee box is set way to the right of the tree-lined fairway.
"The front side is nice. The golf course gets a lot harder from No. 14 on," Joe Matheny said. "It forces you to hit good shots."
The back side will indeed narrow your focus, in terms of both golf and scenery. The 11th has a pretty, duck-filled lake behind the green. It comes into play on No. 12, a 363-yard par 4 that wraps around the water toward an elevated green that slopes toward the lake, mandating an accurate approach shot.
The 13th is the No. 1 handicap hole, a long, straight but narrow par 5. The 14th is another difficult hole, a dogleg left where you must hit a draw or end up in the bunkers at the end of the fairway, unless you're a long hitter who can carry the trees at the corner.
No. 16, another long par 5, starts a closing run that is the course's most scenic stretch.
In addition to the main track, Sea Palms has the executive West course, designed by Tom Jackson. The 2,945-yard nine was recently upgraded.
Sea Palms Golf and Tennis Resort: The verdict
As Sea Palms Head Professional Matheny says, "Ours is a fun, nice little resort course." As at most tracks with tree-lined fairways, you can score well here if can keep the ball in play; the slope is a benign 127.
Ownership appears serious about keeping conditions solid and the circa-1967 course up to date, with renovations in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
St. Simons Island accommodation
Scarlett O'Hara would feel comfortable at the various properties at Sea Island Resort, with their chandeliers, bright atriums and dark, wood-paneled rooms.
The family-owned resort and development company operates the Cloister Hotel, the Lodge, the Lodge at Cabin Bluff and the Ocean Forest and Frederica golf clubs.
Sea Island's centerpiece, the Cloister, has won a ton of awards. There are 30 luxury one-bedroom suites and 70 guest rooms. It also has 24-hour butler service, and if you've never been checked in by a butler, you don't know what you're missing.
Sea Island also rents private homes, known as the Cottages, and offers a spa, beach club, five miles of private seaside and a shooting school on nearby Rainbow Island. This is Southern hospitality and luxury at its finest.
May 8, 2007