April 2007

Palmetto Hall: Golf Under the Radar

Author: Paul deVere

Back in the early 1990s, golf writers couldn’t get enough of the new Arthur Hills layout at Palmetto Hall Plantation. Golf Magazine rated it one of the top ten new courses in the U.S. Two years later, Robert Cupp got the opportunity to craft 18 more holes. While the course itself provided an excellent challenge, photos of Cupp’s unique bunker designs—a all geometrically shaped—appeared in every major golf publication when it opened.

As the years went by and the newness wore off, the courses simply went onto the list of enjoyable courses any golfer could play on Hilton Head Island. Except for residents and members of Palmetto Hall Plantation Club, and golfers who came to Hilton Head when their “package” included the Hills and Cupp courses, Palmetto Hall gradually went off golf’s radar screen. But in April 2006, that began to change.

Already managing the courses at Shipyard, Oyster Reef and Port Royal, Heritage Golf Group added Palmetto Hall’s two courses to what the company calls the “Heritage Collection on Hilton Head,” a total of 135 golf holes. The company immediately brought in Paul Rothwell, the superintendent at Oyster Reef, to rejuvenate both courses. Rothwell is now superintendent at Palmetto Hall. “Course conditions are fabulous. Paul’s done a great job,” said Chuck Miller, Head Golf Professional. “Comments from the players have been tremendous.”

But the Heritage Golf Group brought more than conditioning. “The Heritage philosophy is providing a memorable golf experience, and we definitely pride ourselves in customer service, said Director of Sales, & Marketing, Lisa Dahlstrom. “There are always fresh cookies in the pro shop for golfers to grab on the way out. In the summer there’s lemonade on the range and first tee. And when it turns really warm, we have cool towels for everyone.”

The courses are now semi-private. On a rotating basis, one course is open to club members only until noon. “But daily fee play is definitely encouraged,” Dahlstrom said. In fact, at Palmetto Hall and the other Heritage Golf Group courses, residents of Beaufort County play at a local rate throughout the year. “They just have to show their driver’s license when they sign in,” Miller explained. The Heritage Golf Group offers a variety of memberships at Palmetto Hall Plantation Club for both residents and non-residents. For the serious golfer, there is even a membership level that includes playing privileges at all four clubs the company manages.

The Heritage Golf Group is building a sense of being a good neighbor to the community. The club is a practice site for IJGA (International Junior Golf Association). “We have eight junior golfers come out and use the range and courses to practice their games. In March we hosted and IJGA tour event,” Dahlstrom said. “We definitely support junior golf in the community.”

Palmetto Hall also sponsors a “motivational event” for elementary and middle school students, featuring the Dennis Walters Golf Show. Walters is an internationally-acclaimed golf trick-shot artist who is paralyzed below the waist. Through his golf exhibitions he promotes his message that almost all things are truly possible. “The kids love it,” Miller said. “We set up bleachers, get somebody to donate hamburgers and everyone has a good time.”

“We like to give back to the community, to help motivate children, to help them follow their dreams,” Dahlstrom added.

With great course conditions, 36 challenging holes, being a good neighbor and yes, those cool towels, cookies and lemonade, Palmetto Hall’s Hills and Cupp courses are definitely back in play.

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