Rose Hill Rediscovered

Rose Hill Golf ClubClassic Hilton Head Golf Course Returns After Being Left for Dead 

BLUFFTON - Unless you made it a point to avert your eyes, there was no way to avoid the sign positioned at the entrance to once functional Rose Hill Golf Club proclaiming the course's intention of re-opening Labor Day weekend.

Wishful thinking you thought, even though you'd heard the whispers and read the newspaper reports about Rose Hill's new management group, and its ambitious plan to, in six short months, make 18 holes playable on a course left at the mercy of native trees, weeds and grasses after it was abandoned in January of 2006 like a sinking ocean liner. 

But, by the time Aug. 30 rolled around, Rose Hill was in good enough shape to officially re-open, six months after renovations to the course and clubhouse began, and a staggering two and a half years since the club ceased operations.

Skip Blythe, who is a managing partner in Signature Golf Group and the Director of Golf Operations at Rose Hill, said the speedy turnaround can be attributed to the realistic and reasonable approach he and his staff took in refurbishing the overgrown layout.

"It was mostly an agronomic process for us here," said Blythe as he sat in the same Rose Hill clubhouse where he encountered roof-high grass and 24-month old open wine bottles upon his initial inspection of the facility. "We didn't move dirt, except for the greens which we stripped and re-contoured. We left it pretty much the way that it was, just cleared it out."

Rose Hill Golf Club

The work to clear the way for Rose Hill's transition from crab grass garden to classic Lowcountry golf course wasn't exactly that easy for Blythe, Superintendent Ed Sealy, PGA professional Jimmy Powell and the rest of the facility's workforce.

Maintenance work was done on the bunkers, which were eventually filled with new sand. Various herbicides and pesticides were sprayed to rid Rose Hill of its array of weeds. The crew literally had to dig up the old irrigation system, which was buried under the mess; parts of the old system had to be replaced along the way. Overhanging trees that obstructed tee shots were cleared to relieve what Blythe called a "claustrophobic feeling" that had been created on some tee boxes, while others were removed to enhance the course's aesthetic value.

"As you saw today, the greens are flawless," Blythe told me after we played a round in early October. "We are very happy with the greens. The bunkers are great. We've got some tees that we need to help. Next year, we'll probably have to change the grass on a couple of them; there's a lot of shade.

"The fairways are coming in good, and we've got rough to deal with next year; one more growing season," he added. But all in all we're real happy with the way it turned out. The feedback we've had from people has been extremely positive. They're shocked that we could get so much done in such a short period of time."

With the initial battle to reclaim the course from Mother Nature complete, Blythe and the rest of his team at Rose Hill have switched gears to repositioning the course in the crowded Hilton Head golf marketplace.

Before the new Rose Hill could make a name for itself, the myths and negative connotations associated with the old Rose Hill had to be dispelled and disproven.

Rose Hill Golf Club"We are overcoming the last year or two that Rose Hill was open," Blythe said. "The conditions had deteriorated so there was some skepticism. And we heard that, so it was important that we opened it in good shape and I believe that it was."

The plan to attract local and visiting golfers to Rose Hill was an offer to play the course for just $25 the first week it was back in business. From there the course would have to sell itself, and the classic design is doing just that.

Golfers reinvesting in Rose Hill can expect a traditional, tree-lined course that's not too wide, but not too narrow. Featuring five sets of tees, all named for different styles of roses (Temptation, Braveheart, Fair Play, Silver Moon and American Beauty), Rose Hill is fun for almost anyone to play. The overriding theme present at Rose Hill is playability.

While the course is lined with moss-draped oaks, finding your ball shouldn't be terribly difficult. There are 45 bunkers at Rose Hill, but they're well placed, penalizing wayward shots but not encroaching on every shot. There is some movement in the greens and a few are quite quick, but at an average of 4,200 square feet without big shelves to create multiple tiers, three-putting should be a rarity.

Blythe also preached playability and mentioned the course's prime location along Highway 278 in Bluffton.

"You've got to drive right by it to go to the island," he said. "It's a great location and it's fun to play. It's not gimmicky. Even though it's simple and it's straightforward, it's not a boring course. It's not flat. All of the greens are up. You've got bunkers in the right places. If you don't hit your shots right, you end up in the hazards, but they aren't a lot of forced carries."

The best stretch on the golf course is 10-11-12.

The opening hole of the inward nine was previously used as the first hole, but with plenty of visible water, the team at Rose Hill decided it was a little too intimidating for your first drive of the day, so they moved it to the back nine. At 388 yards from the back tees, the par-4 10th isn't overly long but it's treacherous. No. 11 is the longest hole on the course, at 604 yards from the Temptation Tees, and No. 12 is a great par-3.

Rose Hill Golf ClubOne of the most unique offerings at Rose Hill is the facility's practice area, complete with two regulation golf holes that can be utilized before, after or as a substitute to a day on the course. You can gain access to a bucket of balls and both practice holes for around $12. Blythe said the concept behind the two-hole practice course was to welcome kids, beginners, women, people who have left the game and want to come back while making them feel comfortable and unafraid of the embarrassment some associate with being out on the actual course with other players behind them.

Rose Hill will also offer competitive prices that should also give golfers a comfortable feeling. With plenty of discount coupons in circulation, you can get a tee time at Rose Hill for as little as $35 in the late afternoon, and only $55 in the morning.

Another attractive offer is Rose Hill's VIP program that allows golfers to pay $100 for the year and receive a free round, a $40 gift certificate in the golf shop and a $35 replay rate.

So why should golfers pick Rose Hill when traveling to Hilton Head? According to Blythe, it's all about giving them what they want and making them feel at home.

"Obviously there are many great choices here," he said. "We believe that we will be in good condition all the time. We believe we have very affordable pricing. We believe you'll have a great experience here because of our staff and the way we treat our customers will be second to none."

For more information, visit www.golfrosehill.com or call 843-757-9030. 

 

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