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Golf History

Part of who we are since the very beginning.

Playing golf at Sea Island was part of Howard Coffin’s vision all along.

Having purchased Retreat Plantation in 1926 from descendants of Anna Matilda Page King, owner of the former Sea Island cotton plantation on St. Simons Island, the Sea Island Company founder opened the first nine-hole course, Plantation, by June 1928.

From eminent course designer and British and U.S. Amateur champion Walter Travis’s first design to Plantation’s most recent masterful iteration by Davis Love III and his brother Mark, golf has been an integral part of the Sea Island experience. A rich golf history has unfolded through the decades, from numerous tournaments hosted to some of the game’s finest golfers coming to play to the many professionals who live, play, or train at Sea Island. Our history is one for the books. And only continues to unfold.

  • 1926–28

    Golf at Sea Island Tees Off

    The grounds of the former Retreat Plantation—a house, extensive gardens, hospital, and the majestic Avenue of the Oaks—is now home to the Sea Island Golf Club. With Walter Travis’s first nine-hole course underway, work begins early the following year on Seaside, the second nine. Travis dies before his plans come together, so Coffin turns to the famous English firm of Harry S. Colt and Charles Alison to complete the design.

  • 1929

    From Corn Barn to Clubhouse

    By the time Seaside opens in 1929, Coffin has converted one of the plantation’s corn barns, originally built in 1825, into the first clubhouse, adjacent to Plantation #1. The building expands over the years and the role of clubhouse eventually moves to The Lodge at Sea Island when it opens in 2001. The core of the building remains intact as the heart of today’s Corn Barn, home of the Davis Love III Foundation and headquarters for the RSM Classic.

  • 1930

    1930 – Golf Legends in the Making

    Golf’s growing popularity is spurred by achievements of some of the early greats, including Walter Hagen, Joe Kirkwood, and Bobby Jones, all of whom play at Sea Island. Jones plays Seaside on August 1, 1930, between the third and fourth victories of his Grand Slam, and later sends word to Coffin that the course is “one of the very best nine holes I have ever seen.”

  • 1931-38

    1931–1938 – For The Books

    Both Jones and Hagen set course records—Hagen with a 70 in 1931 and Jones with a 67 in 1938—followed by Sam Snead with a 63 in 1958.

  • 1939

    The Yates Family Makes History

    A family trilogy makes golf history at Sea Island when three members of the Yates family win the Georgia State Amateur Championship. At just 17 years old, Charlie Yates wins in 1931, followed by his brother, Dan Yates, Jr., in 1939 (shown here), and Dan Yates’s son Danny in 1989.

  • 1954

    Louise Suggs

    After winning the 1947 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 1949 British Ladies Amateur, Louise Suggs wins the first Sea Island Ladies Open Invitational in 1954. For more than 50 years, her relationship with Sea Island flourishes, with her becoming the club’s first touring professional, in a deal sealed with a handshake with Sea Island’s president A.W. Jones, Sr.

    In addition to being the co-founder and three-time president of the LPGA, Suggs won 11 majors during her career. Nicknamed “Miss Sluggs” by Bob Hope because of the distance she could hit the ball, she was one of the first inductees into the LPGA Hall of Fame (1951), was named to the World Golf Hall of Fame (1979), and received the Bob Jones Award from the USGA (2007), in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. For decades, Suggs taught at what is now the Golf Performance Center.

  • 1960–1974

    1960- Retreat, the Third Nine

    Dick Wilson’s layout for Sea Island’s third nine-hole course, called Retreat, is completed in 1960. Spectators watching the opening round at Retreat follow play from the first golf carts to appear at Sea Island.

  • 1969-71

    1969–1971 – Winning Streak

    Sea Island touring professional Tony Jacklin wins the Open Championship and the 1970 U.S. Open Championship. Sea island member and area native Stebe Melnyk wins the 1969 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 1971 British Amateur Championship.

  • 1974

    1974 – On Course

    Retreat Course is followed in 1974 by Joe Lee’s design for Marshside, giving Sea Island four nine-hole courses. Golfers can choose the combination they prefer—Seaside and Plantation, Retreat and Marshside, etc. Rees Jones later combines Retreat and Plantation (1998) into today’s 18-hole Plantation Course, and in 1999, Tom Fazio combines Seaside and Marshside into today’s 18-hole Seaside Course.

  • 1985

    Davis Love III Turns Pro

    Born in 1964, Davis learned the game of golf from his father, was a three-time All-American and All-ACC golfer at UNC, and won six titles during his collegiate career. After turning pro and earning his PGA TOUR card in 1985, he wins his first tour event in 1987, the MCI Heritage Classic, which he would win four more times.

    With 21 career wins on the PGA TOUR over four decades, Love is the third oldest player to win on tour. In addition to winning the 1997 PGA Championship, he served as captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team twice, most recently leading the 2016 team to victory. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017.

  • 1991

    A U.S. President Returns

    While he was in office, President George H. W. Bush and Mrs. Bush follow in the footsteps of other U.S. Presidents who played golf at Sea Island. During their stay, Louise Suggs gives Mrs. Bush a golf lesson and the President plays two rounds. The couple had honeymooned at The Cloister in 1945 and returned several times over the years. Mr. Bush continues the tradition of planting a commemorative live oak on the grounds of The Cloister during his stay in 1991. His son, George W. Bush, would follow in the same tradition during the 2004 G8 SUmmit at Sea Island, with a tree planted just steps from his father’s.

  • 1995

    The Golf Learning Center Honored

    Davis Love, Jr., father of Sea Island touring pro Davis Love III, moved his family to Sea Island in 1977 to teach golf at Sea Island Golf Club, pioneering the idea of offering golf instruction year-round in a permanent location. Over the next decade, Sea Island’s Golf Learning Center grew, as he taught novices and pros alike. When he died in 1988, Jack Lumpkin, Love’s long-time friend and fellow instructor, assumed leadership of the program, overseeing its progress in size and stature.

    The Center was the first in the country to be recognized by the USGA. Today’s Golf Performance Center is the outgrowth of both men’s vision and talent, with nationally recognized staff, state-of-the-art facilities, and students ranging from beginners to U.S. Open and Masters Champions.

  • 2001

    The Lodge at Sea Island

    At the end of the Avenue of Oaks, The Lodge overlooks St. Simons Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, not far from the ruins of the plantation home of the King family. Reminiscent of an old English country manor, today The Lodge now serves as the clubhouse, with a men’s locker room dubbed the finest in the country, three restaurants, 57 rooms, six cottages, oceanfront pool and pool house, and an 18-hole putting course. All complete with private butler service.

    The Island Club Course Becomes Retreat

    Some years after purchasing the St. Simons Island Club, including its 18-hole course, Sea Island Company asks Davis Love III and his brother Mark to redesign the course. In August, their mother Penta joins her sons in cutting the ribbon on the renamed Retreat Course.

  • 2007–2016

    A History of Tournaments

    When Dru Love (Davis Love IV) wins the Georgia State Amateur Championship, he becomes the 14th golfer to win an amateur championship at Sea Island Golf Club, which has hosted four Georgia State Amateur Championships, eight USGA championships (Senior Women’s, Senior Amateur, and Mid-Amateur), the Western Junior, the Canon Cup, two USB Cups, and nine LPGA Ladies Open Invitationals. The Southeastern Conference Championship has been contested 16 times on Seaside.

  • 2010

    The RSM Classic

    Davis Love III hosts the first annual McGladrey Classic (now the RSM Classic) at Sea Island. Heath Slocum wins the inaugural event, followed by Ben Crane, Tommy Gainey, Chris Kirk, Bert Streb, MacKenzie Hughes, Austin Cook, Charles Howell III, and in 2019, Tyler Duncan. The most significant tournament to be held at Sea Island, the Classic has impacted the lives of thousands in the local area with charitable contributions through the Davis Love Foundation, created in 2005 by Davis and his wife, Robin.

  • 2019

    A New Era For The Golf Performance Center

    Building on the legacy of the earlier Golf Learning Center, the new 17,000-square-foot Golf Performance Center opens. The combination of the latest cutting-edge technology, exceptional facilities, and the finest instructors and club fitters in the country propels Sea Island into being known as the finest golf destination in the country. The new facility is part of a $30 million enhancement program at The Lodge, which included new oceanfront cottage accommodations, 18-hole putting course, pool, and pool house. Capping the program is the redesign of Plantation Course by Davis and Mark Love, debuting ahead of the 2019 RSM Classic.

  • 2019

    Our Oldest course Becomes Our Newest

    Growing up playing the course with their father, Davis and Mark Love imagined how they would redesign the course if given the chance. Following the 2018 RSM Classic, Plantation Course was closed for them, through Love Golf Design, to write its newest chapter. Drawing on some of Walter Travis’s 1928 traditional profile, they reintroduced some of its historical elements. Being on site as residents allowed them to let their ideas evolve while they were in the field. They took the course back to its historical roots by lowering the elevation throughout, with less bunkering, and by using some of Travis’s “chocolate drops.” the result is a course that plays fun and fair for golfers of any level.

  • 1926-1928
  • 1929
  • 1930
  • History at Sea Island
  • Yates Family
  • Louis Suggs
  • History of the Retreat
  • 1969-71 Toney Jacklin
  • Sea Island Retreat Course
  • 1985 Davis Love
  • President Bush Returns
  • 1995 Davis Love
  • 2007-2016
  • RSM Classic
  • Golf Performance Center
  • Seaside Golf Course Hole 14

A Winning History

2007 Sea Island resident Zach Johnson wins the Masters Championship
2009 Then-resident Lucas Glover wins the U.S. Open
2012 Sea Island resident Matt Kuchar wins The Players Championship
2015 Zach Johnson wins the Open Championship at The Old Course, becoming only the sixth player to win at both Augusta National and The Old Course, along with Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, and Tiger Woods
2016 Sea Island resident Matt Kuchar wins a Bronze Medal at the Olympics
2016 Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, and captain Davis Love III capture the Ryder Cup

Zach Johnson

Course Schedule

Be sure to plan your stay around course closures due to tournaments, events, aerification, and other maintenance.

RSM Classic

Golf Courses

Legendary Scottish links style, a course remade by the champion players that grew up playing it, and a solid favorite that appeals to a broad range of players. Let’s play.

Golf Performance Center

When you offer the finest golf instruction in the world, you build a facility to match. A place where anyone from novices to champions find a unique, multidisciplinary approach to golf instruction. World-renowned golf instructors and a team of experts at the top of their game. You don’t have to be a PGA TOUR pro to train like one. And have a great time. Because at Sea Island, having a fun day out on the course is the name of the game.


Golf Groups

Breathtaking courses. Golf concierge. Renowned Golf Performance Center. And some of the best accommodations in the country. There’s simply no better place for that golf trip with your buddies or a corporate outing.

Group golfing