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|The Plantation Course at The Landings on Skidaway Island has excellent views of the marshes around the island. (Tim McDonald/WorldGolf.com)|
SKIDAWAY ISLAND, Ga. - Each of the six golf courses at The Landings on Skidaway Island, a sprawling golf community on a barrier island just south of Savannah, has its own personality.
The Plantation Course is known for being tough off the tee, a bit narrow in the fairway department, and so it lacks a certain appeal for many of the members.
That's a shame, because it is a very scenic golf course, maybe the most scenic on the island.
The wide-open views of the marshes, all the way out to the Atlantic Ocean, are never far from any of the courses on Skidaway, but the Plantation certainly knows how to use them.
The heart of the course is the middle part, holes 8, 9 and 10, in which the golf almost becomes secondary to the wide vistas. No. 8, a picturesque little par 3, is framed by Adams Creek, while the par-5 ninth hole has a gorgeous, wide view of the creek and the big waters beyond. The marsh extends all the way down the left side of the hole, intruding into the fairway about halfway down, and this is an area that nesting sea turtles love as much as the golfers.
No. 10 has a tee box that juts out into the marsh so that you feel like you can whisper to a great blue heron. You also start this hole by hitting over marsh or into it.
Since most of these courses don't want to overwhelm their members, many of whom are elderly, Plantation cuts you a break with its green complexes. In a word, they're easy.
"Demanding off the tee, but the green complexes are very forgiving," said Plantation Golf Professional Brian Sams. "There's no deep bunkering, and they're some of the flattest greens on the island."
The Plantation course was originally designed by Willard Byrd, but Clyde Johnston oversaw an update a few years ago in which the cart paths and bunkers were re-worked; the original routing stayed the same.
Plantation is the only one of the courses on the island that doesn't revisit the clubhouse at the turn - it goes all the way out and all the way back in.
Officials have a tree maintenance program here, and they're considering cutting down some of the overhanging limbs that can obstruct playing corridors.
Outside play isn't allowed at any of the golf courses at The Landings.
The Landings on Skidaway Island is an exclusive, gated community on the barrier island, just outside Savannah. Residents here have the advantage of living on their own island while being 15 minutes from downtown Savannah.
They've worked hard here to preserve the natural beauty of the island, and it shows: Giant oaks draped with Spanish moss, wide marsh views and hardwood hammocks dot the island.
It's a very active community, with more than 100 groups, including one of the largest ladies golf organizations in the country.
It's a little puzzling why the Landings is not more well-known. It's won some prestigious awards: The Urban Land Institute recognized it as "one of the nation's best residential communities"; Live South magazine ranked it as one of the "Fabulous 50 communities in the South"; and Where to Retire magazine rated it a "top 100 master-planned community."
There is some dispute over the origin of the island's name, whether it came from Indians or English settlers, but in any case, after the Civil War, freed slaves set up a school with the help of Benedictine monks.
Skidaway Island prospered during probation with several stills on the island, and Union Camp eventually took control and used the heavily treed island for pulpwood production in the 1940s before eventually developing the island for residential use.
The community has plenty of activities to keep residents busy, including six courses designed by some of the biggest names in the business, like Hills, Tom Fazio, Arnold Palmer and Willard Byrd.
There are also three tennis centers and 34 courts, two deep-water marinas, a fitness center slated to be doubled in size, four swimming pools, two athletic fields, more than 40 miles of paved walking and biking trails and four clubhouse restaurants.
Then there is the Village, a family-style shopping center so that residents don't even have to leave the island.
April 22, 2008
Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
There are many stay-and-play options in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C region, but none can match the combination of upscale amenities at a reasonable price, the private-course conditions, the diversity of courses and the Interstate convenience of Turf Valley in Ellicott City, Md.
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