Hilton Head Lakes Sees Bright Future Under New Developer

By Lance Hanlin, lhanlin@golfersguide.com

After five years of fighting a down economy, a soft real estate market and a flat golf industry, things are looking up for The Golf Club at Hilton Head Lakes.

The 18-hole championship course survived the failed Tradition Hilton Head development, two brief closures and a court-appointed receiver as new ownership shifted to the current developer.

Today, the public course remains open for business, conditions are better than ever and rounds are up. Director of Golf David Wilding has been there from the beginning and is excited about the future of the maturing course and the entire Hilton Head Lakes development.

 “The people of the Lowcountry have wrapped their arms around the golf course,” Wilding said. “When the team from Hilton Head Lakes came in, they truly saw this land as a valued asset. From the golf course, the lakes, and the expansive system they’re working on across on the south side of the property, they’re putting money back into the development. I think it makes Hilton Head Lakes a development unlike any other.”

When the golf course opened in 2007, it was supposed to be an integral part of a vibrant 5,500-acre community featuring 9,500 homes, similar to the popular master-planned Tradition Port St. Lucie. Unfortunately, what worked in Florida didn’t work here.

The global financial crisis hit soon after the course opened, leaving most of Tradition Hilton Head undeveloped. That put the golf course in the awkward position of being relatively close to everything but next to nothing.

“If you consider Hilton Head Island the focal point, we are off the beaten path,” Wilding said. “To make up for that, we focus on guest services and course conditions. When people remember you, it will be by the service they received and the condition of the golf course.”

While it is a 20 to 30 minute drive for most of the island, it is also a short drive for several Georgia markets, such as Savannah and Pooler. Its proximity to Interstate 95 makes Hilton Head Lakes the first golf course many Hilton Head-bound travelers encounter. The International Junior Golf Tour and the eGolf Professional Tour have both hosted tournaments there. Pfeiffer University will host an intercollegiate there in March.

“We have a local rate, as every public golf course in our area does,” Wilding said. “We offer it to all of Savannah and the surrounding areas, all of Beaufort, and the coast of Hilton Head. Truly, one of the best things about us … we are 20 minutes from everywhere, the Talmadge Bridge in Savannah, 20 minutes from Hilton Head Island and 20 minutes from Beaufort. We’re right in the middle of it all.”

Tommy Fazio, not to be confused with his uncle, Tom, designed the course to take advantage of the property’s lakes and natural wetlands. The front nine meanders through developments and home sites. The back nine features some of the most scenic holes on the course. The young Fazio takes pride in building each courses himself, resulting in around one project per year. He has worked extensively with Donald Trump and many of his trademarks are evident at Hilton Head Lakes, such as classic rolling hills, limited hidden obstacles and subtle cart paths. Everything is laid out in front of you.

The round starts with four challenging holes and ends with three challenging holes. Wilding calls them the Hilton Head Lakes bookends.

“If you can get through the first four holes, the golf course then softens up a bit and you can miss some shots and not be super-penalized,” Wilding said. “As your round comes to an end, you have to pay attention and finish.”

With five sets of tees, Hilton Head Lakes can be enjoyed by golfers on both ends of the talent spectrum. For beginners, there are expansive fairways and wide open greens, which can be attacked from many different angles. If you miss a green, your imagination can run wild with the green complexes.

The 12th hole was recently honored in Golf Course Home’s fifth annual Dream 18 collection of great residential golf holes. The publication called Hilton Head Lakes, “a Hardeeville haven.”

Another thing that makes Hilton Head Lakes unique is its 36-acre practice facility which offers target greens, bunkers and multiple practice greens. There is also a six-hole par 3 short course ranging from 70 to 180 yards. For $15, you can have unlimited use of the short course, playing as many holes as you like.

“Our practice facility is a phenomenal asset to our golf club,” Wilding said. “Our par 3 short course is great for highly skilled scratch golfers to fine tune their short game and for beginners who are just starting to learn the game. The short course is maintained and very indicative of the big course and conditions are always the same.”

Hilton Head Lakes offers several membership plans and rounds packages. There is also a practice facility membership, where $300 gives you six months of unlimited access to the short course and the entire practice facility.

The local rate for Hilton Head Lakes is currently $35 in the morning and $25 in the afternoon. Winter rates will be announced soon. The club also provides golfers with a course loyalty card. If you purchase five rounds, your sixth round is free.

This month, Hilton Head Lakes is unveiling a 20,000 square foot activity center with a fully equipped fitness center, meeting rooms, game room and an infinity edge pool.

Plans for a new clubhouse for the golf course are also on the horizon. Other future plans include a return of exhibitions and free clinics.

“It’s a great way for us as professionals to help people out and to also showcase what we have to offer,” Wilding said. “We have great golf at a great value.”

Course: The Golf Club at Hilton Head Lakes
Location: 2005 Wiregrass Way, Hardeeville
Architect: Tommy Fazio
Year built: 2007
Par: 72
Rating/slope (White): 70.4/122
Yardage (White): 6,200
Local Rate: $35 morning, $25 afternoon
Amenities: Full-service golf shop, 36-acre practice facility, six-hole par 3 course, instruction, café serves lunch daily
Contact: Call 843-208, 5353 or go online to www.hiltonheadlakesgolf.com


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