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Colleton River Plantation: Hilton Head, SC

On October 18, 2003, 12 years after its completion in l992, an overwhelming number of the membership of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in Colleton River Plantation voted to restore the course to its original design.

Considering the projected cost of $4.5 million and the fact that Nicklaus has publicly stated that the course was one of his favorites, it was not a decision made lightly.

But the members are serious about their golf, the courses on which they play and the quality of life and all the amenities on Colleton River Plantation.

How do you improve a Nicklaus classic?

One week after the membership voted to restore the course, Nicklaus Senior Design Associate Jim Lipe conducted a site visit during which he stated, “Our full intention is to restore the golf course as close as possible to its original design while at the same time making slight modifications for aesthetic and drainage purposes,”

He went on to say, “Jack has always loved the Colleton River golf course and his only desire for change is to increase the internal pitches in the greens slightly.”

Some modifications from the original layout are being made on individual greens due to tree growth and shade impositions. Some contouring will be enhanced for more interest.

And in the process of restoration, all greens will be laser-leveled and sprigged.

“However, the basic character and integrity of the golf course will not be changed,” Lipe promises.

Weather and trees have required some special restoration features. On the 17th hole, another par-3 all sod and no sprigging is being used due to the wind coming off of the Colleton River. Tree root infringement and limb growth have required the club to undertake a major tree management program as part of the restoration.

The work on the course began early in 2004, with the projected grand reopening for the Nicklaus Signature Golf Course slated in September 2004. (It also should be noted that the Nicklaus course clubhouse is undergoing restoration and refurbishing, too.)

To the residents, it's all worth it.

Everyone who lives here are golf enthusiasts and outdoor activists, and the Plantation fits their needs perfectly.

There are two award-winning golf courses to enjoy — one by Jack Nicklaus and another by Pete Dye. Each course has its own clubhouse with views of the Colleton and Chechessee rivers. And there is an Augusta National-style par-3 course.

This 12-year-old gated community has become a favorite with Northeasterners and Midwesterners. Residents are for the most part in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, and most have either children or grandchildren.

Although the original homesites have been developed, recently 800 acres of new land was added to the Plantation's holdings. Today's residents consider Colleton River Plantation as an ideal second home location where they can enjoy the delightful spring and autumn weather of the Lowcountry. And play golf!

There is more to Colleton River Plantation than simply golf.

Deepwater docks and a community dock allow residents the chance to enjoy the natural wetlands beauty. Walking and biking trails crisscross the property. They can drink in the breathtaking Lowcountry environment of saltwater marshes, maritime forests and wildlife that is unsurpassed. Or have the chance to catch a spottail or to sight a bald eagle.

Colleton River Plantation sits on land that offers panoramic views in the area of the Colleton and Chechessee Rivers, with deepwater access to the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean.

There is an active Stan Smith tennis program, a junior Olympic-sized pool and a variety of programming and events to suit even the most non-golf playing or nature lover person.

Nearby Bluffton, S.C. offers shopping, a limited nightlife and the unlimited charm of a town unsullied by overpopulation, over development and overdone tourist attractions.

This area remains the epitome of Southern enchantment where the basis of giving directions might well begin with “just down from the Squat 'n Gobble,” or “next to the Sippin' Cow,” or perhaps “across from the Piggly Wiggly.”

Or if something more sophisticated is preferred, the glamour and charm of the beach life of Hilton Head Island is only a short drive away.

Homes and homesites

Currently, there are 235 homes built or under construction in Colleton Plantation. It is projected that a total community of 708 homes will be in place once all the property is developed.

The homes in Colleton River Plantation reflect the Lowcountry elegance but tend to be unpretentious in their design. Each dwelling must be a minimum size of 2,400 square feet and adhere to the ARB regulations to make sure the residential footprint isn't too big for the size of the lot.

The houses nestle in the center of spacious lots amid the oaks and magnolias to create a feeling of warmth and comfort from the roads. There is an average of one home per two acres of property throughout the community.

Colleton River Plantation's select group of builders create homes that are rich in quality and design. Homes are built to accommodate the individual creativity that reflects the magnificent community in which they sit.

Prices for new home construction range upward from $800,000 to $3 million for homes and from $200,000 upward for lots. Sales in 2003 totaled $24 million.

So for the really serious golfer who is demanding of amenities and lifestyle, Colleton River Plantation has it all. And will have even more of it with the restoration of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course.

The 1999 Golf Magazine Top 100 Golf Courses in the U.S. ranking included the Pete Dye Course, offering Colleton River Plantation the unique distinction of being the only private golf community in the world to have had two courses on the same Top 100 list. And the fact that the Dye course made the list just six months after it opened for play is remarkable.

Other honors earned by the Dye Course include Golf Digest for one of the Top 10 New Private Courses, Golf & Travel Magazine for one of the Top 30 courses in the U.S., Forbes Magazine for one of the Best Golf Course Communities in America, and Golf Digest for one of the Top Ten New Courses in the U.S.

The Dye course allows for awe-inspiring shots at four holes on the big waters. The views may curtail play a bit. The vistas are so impressive that golfers are reluctant to walk off the greens, but that is consistent throughout the day, so it works to every golfer's advantage. In addition to the water views, there are maritime forests, grand oaks and lagoons.

As is the case with the Nicklaus course, the Dye Course includes an impressive clubhouse. The 20,000 square foot Lowcountry structure of Carolina brick and hardwood is set at the edge of Port Royal Sound, bordering one of the country's most pristine estuaries.

The view from its 5,000 square-foot wraparound porches offers a breathtaking expanse of water, golf and oaks, seabirds and a bright blue, far horizon. Nothing obstructs a 360-degree visual experience the location offers you.

The antebellum-style river house, with its 18-foot wide porches and French doors, represents classic Southern architecture drawn from an earlier era of gracious living. All materials, from the handmade old Carolina brick to the slate and standing seam copper roof, offer testament to the understated lifestyle of Colleton River Plantation.

Nicklaus Design is a Well-Known Name

Nicklaus Design represents a team of the world's most accomplished golf course design associates, agronomists, industry consultants and experts in golf course construction and marketing.

Nicklaus stands for superior golf course design, a result of Jack Nicklaus' more than three decades as a renowned golf course designer and his sons' and son-inlaw's solid reputations as designers themselves.

In the opinion of many, Nicklaus Design has elevated the standards of golf course design with highly innovative work. Yet as unique as each design is, they all share the Nicklaus' philosophy of working closely with clients, enhancing the natural environment and creating courses that are both challenging and enjoyable for players of all levels.

Nicklaus Design, as a company, has 262 courses open for play. The company opened 12 courses in 2003 and Jack Nicklaus was involved with 10 of those 12 projects. Represented in 27 countries and 35 U.S. states, Nicklaus Design has 160 courses open for play in the United States. More than 40 Nicklaus Design courses in the United States are involved in Audubon International programs. Currently, there are 33 courses under construction, 16 are in the United States and 17 are international projects.

Since 1973, about 72 Nicklaus courses have hosted more than 400 professional tournaments worldwide.

Jack Nicklaus was named GolfWorld's Architect of the Year in 1993. In 1999, Golf Digest named him the world's leading active designer. He recently was named recipient of both the Donald Ross Award and the Donald Rossi Award, and was honored with the International Network of Golf 's Achievement in Golf Course Design Award for 2000-2001.

By Michael Gaffney

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