When Arnold Palmer came to Spring Island for the re-opening of the Old Tabby Links in November after the course was closed seven months for restoration, he told fans gathered at the 18th green that the course was his favorite among his designs.
Apparently, Golf Inc. feels the same way.
The Old Tabby Links has earned Golf Inc. Magazine's Renovation of the Year honors.
"We're really overwhelmed with (the honor)," said Bill Sampson, director of golf at Old Tabby Links. "To be in the top globally, not just the United States, but one of the top courses in the world is quite an honor for the club and (chief architect) Brandon Johnson and Arnold Palmer Design and MacCurrach Golf Construction. (Golf committee chairman) Gary Shimmin did a great job and (superintendent) Jay Gratton was on site every day. Everyone just did a great job."
Six private courses and three public courses worldwide earned the honor. According to the Golf Inc. website, the contest highlights "architects and contractors who have transformed aging courses, making them more playable, eye-catching and efficient."
A failing irrigation system was the main impetus for the Old Tabby Links' $4.7 million renovation. If it wasn't replaced, the community was at risk of losing the golf course. Membership backed the plan to close for half a year and renovate.
"It's just been amazing to be able to irrigate where it needs to be irrigated," Sampson said. "We also updated the pump station, which gave us the opportunity to save water and energy."
The overall number of sprinkler heads was doubled, as well, making it easier to irrigate specific areas as needed.
In addition to replacing the irrigation system, there were upgrades made in several other areas.
Fairways were widened and the overall square footage of bunkers was reduced from 140,000 square feet to about 60,000.
"But now a lot are in play, where before, very few were in play," Sampson said. "We made the course a little more strategic when you're in the tee box."
The grass on the greens was replaced with a variety not available when the course opened in 1992. And several greens were moved to get them out of the shade and into the sunlight, reducing the need for overseeding.
Feedback has been positive.
"Everything has been great," Sampson said. "How people have received it has been just great."
The complete order of the winners will be announced in the magazine's summer issue.
The rest of this year's winners, in alphabetical order are BackTee New Course at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort in Denmark; The Denver Country Club in Denver, Colo.; the Glaze Meadow Golf Course in Sisters, Ore.; the Luna Vista Golf Course in Dallas, Texas; the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club in Nichol Hills, Okla.; The Richmond Golf Course in Surrey, England and the Pelican Marsh Golf Course in Naples, Fla.
IJGA'S WERENSKI WINS IN ORLANDO
Mickey Werenski, a full-time student at the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head Island, won the Boys 15-19 Division of the International Junior Golf Tour's 18th Annual Bridgestone Golf Tournament of Champions held May 25 to May 27 at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla.
Werenski had a round of 1-under 71 and two even-par 72s to top Michael Pfeifer by three strokes.
Thamonpat Siriko of Thailand, also a Hank Haney IJGA student, won the Girls Under 19 Division. She posted rounds of 74, 70 and 76 to beat classmate Kelly Whaley by four strokes.
Send all golf news to sports editor Mike McCombs at email@example.com.