By David Theoret
Travel + Leisure Magazine considers St. Simons Island, GA one of the “Top 5 Best US Islands.” Golf is one of the biggest attractions on St. Simons Island with several private clubs and resort courses, few of which are open to the general public.
One of these resort courses is Sea Palms Resort, a beautiful property situated among the picturesque salt marshes of Georgia’s Golden Isles. Sea Palms stands out among St. Simons Island hotels and features ultra-comfortable accommodations in a secluded “island-within-an-island” retreat. These luxurious rooms and suites are airy and spacious with a variety of floor plans, all designed with your comfort in mind.
The main attraction for most visitors to Sea Palms is the 18-hole championship golf course, which winds its way through groves of live oaks, deep blue lagoons, and those enticing salt marshes. The golf course was originally designed by George Cobb and in October 2019, underwent an extensive renovation. Its current pristine conditioning can be attributed to a well-trained and attentive maintenance staff that pays meticulous attention to all aspects of the course.
Before your round, warm up on Sea Palm’s large driving range where you can hit every club in the bag. The driving range is open to resort guests, club members, and the general public. You do not need a tee time to use the driving range, just show up when they’re open.
For me, the biggest takeaways from the golf course at Sea Palms are the green complexes. Not only are these putting surfaces incredible, but they are also incredibly well-protected. The 13th green is surrounded by four bunkers. A large, deep pot bunker in the middle of the fairway fronts the green on Number 14, with two more bunkers behind it. Because of the shape and undulation, a putt from the front right to a front left pin position is almost a guaranteed three-putt!
There are several memorable holes at Sea Palms but none more so than the last three holes which can make or break a good round. Number 16 is a 542-yard par 5 dogleg left and for most players, it’s going to be a 3-shot hole. Unless a draw is part of your shot repertoire, you can’t hit your drive much further than 250 yards or you’ll find the woods. A tee shot of 240 yards is still going to leave around 300 yards into the green. The green is almost 40 yards long, slightly elevated, and very narrow. It’s protected by two bunkers on the left and one on the right that’s as big as the other two combined!
Number 17 is a par 3 that plays 195 yards from the White Tees over a little bit of water on the left. The large green is flanked by large bunkers on either side and slopes back to front. Try and keep your tee shot below the hole to have the best chance at par…or better!
The finishing hole at Sea Palms is a straightaway par four that plays 366 yards from the White Tees. There’s water all down the left side of the tee box with more water on the right, creating somewhat of an island fairway. A very wide waste bunker crosses the fairway about 70 yards in front of the green and continues down the left side between the water on the left and the green. The putting surface is slightly elevated and slopes from back to front so consider maybe half a club more with your approach shot.
After your round, stop by The Golf Shop, which is well-stocked with golf apparel, equipment, and accessories from many of the game’s top manufacturers. You can also pick up something from their grab-and-go snack bar items. If you find yourself struggling with aspects of your golf game the professional golf staff at Sea Palms can get you back on track with either private or group lessons which are available by appointment. They can also help you plan your next golf outing including tournament formats, pairings, scoring, and cart staging.
In the event you’re staying at the resort, be sure to have at least one meal at Sago. Sago gets its name from a species of palm trees that are found throughout the property. The restaurant has long been a Golden Isles favorite for great food and entertainment and underwent a major renovation that was completed in 2021. Sago is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and Saturday and Sunday for breakfast. The menu includes a little bit of everything, from jumbo chicken wings to pulled pork platters to pizzas, steaks, and seafood. Everything is cooked to order and delicious. My guess is you won’t leave hungry! Sago is also a popular spot for special events like Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day.
Resort golf courses tend to have a hard time attracting members, especially if they allow guests of the resort to play the golf course. It may not offer the privacy and exclusivity they are looking for. And while the golf course at Sea Palms may be open to guests of the resort, and the general public, there is one section of the club that is reserved exclusively for the members.
The Miracle is a one-of-a-kind practice facility that is member-only. The design team at King-Collins was able to transform what was once the finishing hole of the now defunct 9-hole course into a 4.5 acre practice facility. With wide fairways, five greens, unusual topography, and strategically placed bunkers, dunes, and water features, it allows players to practice just about any short game shot they can think of. It’s more of a golf amusement park than a practice facility – without the clown’s mouth!
Sea Palms offers a variety of membership plans designed to meet just about anyone’s budget. Their all-inclusive Signature Membership is perfect for avid golfers and offers unlimited access to the golf course and The Miracle practice facility. There are additional benefits like restaurant discounts, access to recreational amenities, special room rates, and much more. A National Membership is the perfect arrangement for seasonal guests of St. Simon’s Island. It provides members with access to all facilities and amenities when they’re on the island as well as other resort options and savings. For those that aren’t into golf but still enjoy the benefits a private club offers, there’s the Social Membership which offers year-round access to the tennis courts, fitness center, swimming pools, and beach amenities. Click on the Membership tab on the website for more information.
For more information on Sea Palms Resort or to check on any of their specials and golf packages, visit them online at www.seapalms.com.