New Sea Pines golf club nearing completion; beach club taking shape

tbarton@islandpacket.comDecember 31, 2013 

Sea Pines Resort is stepping up its game in 2014 with new beach and golf amenities.

Workers are nearing completion of a 23,000-square-foot clubhouse and golf learning center at the Ocean Course and the Pete Dye-designed Heron Point course.

Crews demolished the old clubhouse in November 2012 to make way for a new Plantation Golf Club, set to open in February.

"Everything is going together nicely," said Cary Corbitt, resort vice president of sports and operations.

The resort -- host of the PGA Tour's RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing at its famed Harbour Town Golf Links -- also recently announced that Tim Cooke is its new director of golf instruction.

Cooke, whose instructional articles have been featured in Golf Illustrated and has made guest appearances on the Golf Channel's "The Turn," held a similar position at Hilton Head Island's Long Cove Club. He was named Golf Digest's "Best Young Teachers" from 2010 to 2013, and one of the top teachers in South Carolina for 2013-14.

Joining him at Sea Pines Resort in the New Year is brother and fellow Golf Prep Junior Golf Academy instructor and co-founder, Simon Cooke.

Beginning in January, all academy instruction will move to the resort's new golf learning center, Corbitt said. The elite junior golf academy will also undergo a name change and will now be known as Elite Junior Golf Academy at The Sea Pines Resort, according to a news release.

"I'm honored to align with a prestigious company like The Sea Pines Resort and look forward to creating premier golf instruction experiences at the new facility," Tim Cooke said in the release.

Attempts this week to reach him and his brother were unsuccessful.

"They're an exciting addition to our team as we strive to make our new learning center a leading teaching destination to match our world-class golf courses," Corbitt said Monday.

The learning center will feature two indoor hitting bays, equipped with digital cameras and software to help players analyze their swings, as well as a putting lab. The center will also offer custom club fitting, in addition to individual golf lessons, schools and clinics, Corbitt said.

Berkeley Hall and Belfair Plantation offer similar golf learning facilities, as well as other PGA Tour sites.

Also set to open in 2014 is a new Sea Pines Beach Club. Work began this fall on the more than 25,000-square-foot building next to Marriott's Monarch at Sea Pines.

The $12 million club will feature an indoor restaurant and bar; an open-air beach bar; second-floor space for private receptions and parties; retail and office space; and expanded restrooms, showers and changing rooms. The club will replace the current oceanside club built more than 40 years ago.

Corbitt said construction should be completed by the end of May, in time for summer.

As for residents who object to the club's parking plan, Corbitt said the resort will handle the increased traffic by possibly offering valet parking, providing overflow parking at nearby Plantation Golf Club, increasing the number of bicycle parking spots, offering shuttle service for guests and off-site employee parking.

In all, The RiverStone Group has spent nearly $50 million upgrading the resort's amenities since purchasing it in 2005, Corbitt said.

Sea Pines officials say the improvements are part of an islandwide resurgence designed to ensure the RBC Heritage stays and the island remains a hot spot for tourists.

Next up is a new $20 million-plus clubhouse at Harbour Town Golf Links. Demolition is set to begin after the 2014 Heritage in April on the current clubhouse, with a new one completed by the 2015 tournament, Corbitt said.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom

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