Golf Digest once billed Sea Island as the No.1 Golf Resort in North America. With sumptuous accommodation and a plethora of recreational facilities, including two public courses (Seaside and Plantation) Sea Island is one of those resorts that simply cannot be overlooked.
The Seaside course was created in the late 1920s by C.H. Alison of the great English partnership of Colt and Alison. Today's 18 holes comprise a front nine that was laid out by Joe Lee in the 1970s and a back nine that dates back to its original construction, with both circuits updated by Tom Fazio in 1999.
The 421-yard 4th is a really distinctive hole where the tee shot requires a forced carry across wetlands to a fairway that then takes a severe ninety-degree turn left towards a green sited on the other side of marshland. With bunkers on the right side of the fairway, golfers who play too conservatively away from trouble on the left will find themselves punished for their lack of ambition.
The Seaside course at the Sea Island Resort was the highest climber in our (now superceded) 2011 rankings of the USA’s Top 250 courses. Click here to read the story.
The first unique thing you notice about the Seaside course are the distinctive red wicker baskets instead of hole flags, like those at Merion. Most of the green designs are like the first green, with slopes and shaved areas that repel shots hit short away from the green. Most of the greens are small. Many holes have a forced carry off the tee.
The fourth hole is 421 yards on the card, but is one of the severest dog-legs in all of golf. The hole makes an acute left turn at 300 yards to a green situated on the other side of the marsh at a ninety-degree angle from where you are standing on the tee. The fourth hole was originally named "It Is" which was short for "It is unlucky if played carelessly." Perfectly named.
When Bobby Jones played the course, the current front nine played as the back nine on a different composite course. Jones said, "Second nine is one of the very best I have ever seen." Who am I to disagree with Bobby?
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs