When Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay designed and created Spring Island’s Old Tabby Links course in 1992, it was widely heralded as a Lowcountry golf masterpiece, with everyone from players to caretakers and the designers themselves enthralled with this unique course. Yet after two decades of coastal weather, daily maintenance, and year-round play, Old Tabby found it challenging to maintain its original character and glory, making an overhaul essential to its preservation.
The seven-month restoration of Old Tabby began early in 2012 with a goal to restore the natural beauty and rugged character that were its hallmarks from the outset. What ensued was a painstaking process that revealed a course of far deeper complexity, intrigue, and excitement than could ever have been imagined. Key aspects of the renovation included:
- Restoration of greens and greens surrounds, bunkers, fairways, and roughs, thereby enhancing the strategic value of each hole.
- Re-contouring of greens in the spirit of the original ones with emphasis on new, additional and exciting pin locations, while remaining cognizant of recovery options and encroaching shade.
- A significant reduction of the overall square footage of bunkers while increasing visibility and enhancing the strategic value of the remaining bunkers.
- A reduction of the total amount of irrigated turf, even while widening fairways to offer more forgiving tee shots and open up alternate angles of play to the greens.
Brandon Johnson, Senior Golf Course Architect with the Arnold Palmer Design Company, summarizes the renovation’s success: “The renovated Old Tabby Links has renewed strategic value. Width off the tee now incorporates alternative angles of attack as a way to navigate towards the variety of new pin locations. As a result, the majestic oaks and pines that surround the course may come into play should you be on the wrong side of the widened fairways. Classic risk-reward decisions will be encountered. Heroic shots will entice the player, and myriad recovery options around the greens will challenge one’s decision-making. Our intent is that all of this adds up to a fun and interesting golf course full of variety and shot options that will present new challenges and rewards in every round.”
The 7,135-yard, par 72 Old Tabby Links now stands as a testament to Palmer’s sensitivity and light touch. From the great live oak “cathedrals” of the front nine, to the more open feeling of pastures and green fields of the back, Old Tabby Links is a stunning tribute to the exceptional ecosystem that is Spring Island.
Only six private golf courses and three public ones have earned Golf Inc.’s Renovation of the Year honor, including European courses in Denmark and England. In addition to this exciting title, the new Old Tabby Links is also listed in the Top 30 New Courses list on Golf Digest.com, and moved up 15 spots on Golfweek’s Best Residential Courses list from 58th to 43rd. Read more about the Old Tabby Links renovation on p.14 of the Palmetto Golfer magazine here: Palmetto Golfer
We are all extremely proud of our new Old Tabby Links course, and if you haven’t had the pleasure of playing a round, we look forward to booking your next tee time!