Low Country Beauty at Sapelo Hammock
On a recent visit to the Georgia coast, I had an opportunity to check out the Sapelo Hammock Golf Club, near the village of Shellman Bluff. It is a bit of a drive from I-95 but worth every minute. There is a very welcoming road onto the golf club’s property shaded by massive oak trees strewn with spanish moss. The southern style clubhouse with a wrap-around porch has a dining area inside and out, combined pro shop and bar, and a friendly staff.
About half way between Savannah and Brunswick in McIntosh County, the Sapelo Hammock golf course was designed by Rusty Simmons and originally opened in 1999. It had its trying times in the past which we chronicled in an article published in May. Now, the course is the best it has ever been and a must play when you are traveling in the coastal byways of Georgia. Cornerstone Golf Partners manages the club with 20- year veteran Golf Course Superintendent Chris Hankey in charge of golf operations. Chris and his crew keep the course in its pristine condition. I was thoroughly impressed with the routing of the golf course through hardwood forests and tidal marshes near the Sapelo River, allowing for a variety of challenging golf holes with some tiny greens with nice surrounds.
Next to the large driving range and across the entry road from the clubhouse, the layout begins with a dogleg left par 4. There are five tee boxes to choose from to enjoy your journey at the 6698- yard Sapelo Hammock, so choose wisely and appreciate the beauty and charm of the low country flora and fauna surrounding the property. The short par 4, 2nd hole is a birdie opportunity. The key to scoring well is keeping the 1st shot out of trouble, then getting to the greens in regulation and location of the pin. If you can read the subtle nuances of the fantastic Champion Bermuda greens, you have an opportunity to post a good number. The third hole, another par 4 with water all along the right side requires a good drive and a better second to a green tucked right just past the water’s edge with a severe slope. Another short par 4, the 4th will be scored well if you avoid the fairway bunker and rough right and use the left side of the fairway to play your approach shot to the green.
Adjacent to the 4th hole is the Hammocks condominiums which are available for “stay-and-play” options for groups of players. They are 2 & 3 bedroom/bath super clean units with full kitchens, living and dining areas. The perfect place to come and experience Sapelo at its best for a buddies trip or ladies golf getaway without the worry of racing home. Upstairs above the clubhouse is the 2 bedroom/2 bath lovely appointed Eagle’s Nest with large kitchen, dinette, living room, formal dining room and large porch overlooking the short game practice area and the 18th green with the tidal marshland as the backdrop. We stayed in the Eagle’s Nest and enjoyed the spectacular sunset with a few cold ones lounging on the porch. General Manager/ Director of Golf Andy Brown can help with special arrangements for your stay & play, golf tournaments and membership opportunities. Call-833-877-6988 for more information on rentals.
The first par 5 is pretty much straight away. There is a little swale in the fairway left to avoid and then two mounded rough areas before you reach the well protected green with three bunkers. The 6th, a 168-yard par 3 has no problems other than the mounded green to deal with. The par 4, 7th with three fairway bunkers to avoid at the turn of the left dogleg to a two-tiered green is one of the more challenging holes on the front. Your first look at the marshland is the par 3, 8th which you have to hit over to reach the green bordered by an array of hardwood trees. Precision is key, so pick enough club. The #1 handicap, the long and winding par 5, 9th hole is a shot maker’s dream. You have ample room to reach the fairway from the tee, then the landing area severely narrows with marsh to the right, woods to the left and a few prayers to make it to the green. Good Luck!
Sapelo Hammock is part of the Georgia Golf Trail, a selection of premier resorts and golf courses throughout the Peach State, home to the great Bobby Jones, the Masters and TOUR Championship. Here is a novel idea for those traveling the I-95 corridor through Georgia to get back to your winter abode. Why not take a few days exploring the outstanding golf venues with easy access off and on the Interstate? You can start at the Club at Savannah Harbor Westin for your first taste of Georgia’s southern hospitality and great golf, then proceed to Sapelo Hammock for this superb layout, after which you have your choice of golf at the Sea Island Club, The King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort on St. Simons or the 63 holes at the Jekyll Island Golf Club to round out your Georgia Golf Trail I-95 excursion. Visit GeorgiaGolfandTravel.com.
The course returns to the clubhouse so you can get nourishment and refuel to tackle the back. The par 4,10th is a dogleg left with little trouble and par are better scoring. The 11th, another par 4, has a pond you should be able to clear with three confounding fairway bunkers before you reach the smallish green. The par 5, twelfth screams accuracy from the tee box to the green. The fairway is bordered by hardwoods narrowing the landing area. A good drive down the left side will allow a second shot away from the water on this dogleg right for a pitch to the mounded green. After 12, 13 is a short straightforward par 4 to help regain your much needed mojo. The 14th, a 390-yard par four with a slight left turn in it was my best played, sinking my birdie putt from the other end of the green. My joy went asunder on the par 3, 15th when my shot to the green tailed into the pond on the right. boo-hoo. The 16th, another hefty par 4 dogleg left with a pond just right of the green got my full attention scoring a bogey 5. If there is one hole that personifies Sapelo Hammock, it is the unique 17th, a par 3 built in the surrounding marsh with nowhere to go but flag-hunting. This 183 yard natural wonder should be the calling card for Georgia low-country golf. It is as beautiful as it is tough. Time for a Kodak moment here. The finishing hole, a par 5 that plays along the tidal marshes with a little creek crossing about 80 yards from the green tucked left at the marsh edge. A great end to a fantastic round of golf with Mother Nature as your partner. You really need to experience Sapelo Hammock. For more information visit SapeloHammockGolfClub.com
Why some upstart league can challenge the PGA Tour is beyond me. A new global golf tour, the Premier Golf League, is aiming to create a circuit with 18 big-money