“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. ”
Old Tabby Links
Of the nearly 300 design projects undertaken by Arnold Palmer and his longtime associate, Ed Seay, Old Tabby Links stands out as the most compelling. Opened in 1994 in Spring Island, S.C., it ranks No. 96 on Golfweek's list of the best modern courses.
It helped that Palmer and Seay had a natural setting like this one to work with: 3,000 acres (4.7 square miles) comprising the old Edwards Family cotton plantation along the Intracoastal Waterway of Lowlands South Carolina. The site lies just north of Hilton Head Island and is thus removed from the well-trod resort area, yet there's easy access to Beaufort, S.C., as well as to Savannah, Ga.
The land plan on Spring Island is relaxed and designed to utilize the pristine marshland, with 1,200 acres set aside as a nature preserve. The golf course laces across an unusually generous envelope that is dotted with ruins of the old plantation-which was made of tabby, an early concrete made of crushed oyster shells, quicklime and sand. There are only 410 home sites on the rest of the property, with lots ranging from a third of an acre up to 13 acres, and 240 of those lots face various water bodies. Community residents and their guests also enjoy equestrian, tennis and fitness facilities; shooting clays; 35 miles of hiking, biking and bridle paths; and extensive fishing and boating opportunities.
The par-72 golf course, playing 5,022 yards up to 7,004, certainly doesn't feel or look as if it's part of a residential community. The front nine ambles through creeks, marshes and low-lying terrain graced by towering oaks. The back nine provides more dramatic long views of the tidal marshland, with the highlight coming at the par-3 17th hole (above), 205 yards across an isthmus to a green perched above the wetlands.
Old Tabby Links is at 42 Mobley Oaks Lane, Spring Island, S.C. 29909.
For information, call (843) 987-2200 or (866) 740-0400, or visit
Beaufort County (ARW)
Has a 3,400-foot runway and is 24 miles northeast of the course.
FBO: Beaufort County Airport, (843) 770-2003.
Hilton Head Island (HXD)
Has a 4,300-foot runway and is 30 miles southeast of the course.
FBO: Signature Flight Support, (843) 689-3200.
Savannah/Hilton Head International (SAV)
Has a 9,351-foot runway and is 38 miles southwest of the course.
FBOs: SheltAir Aviation Services, (912) 965-0095; Signature Flight Support, (912) 964-1557.