When Marti and Tee Tolleson moved to St. Simons Island a few years ago, they knew they wanted their new home to have a golf course view. Now, with their house on Kings Way, they are just steps away from Sea Island Golf Club’s Plantation Course, one of the most recognizable courses in the world, and the site of the preliminary rounds of the upcoming RSM Classic, planned for Nov. 18-23.
“They’ve just redone that course, and it’s really fantastic,” said Marti Tolleson.
With the redesign of the Plantation Course, recently completed by Mark Love and Davis Love III, the view from the back of the Tolleson’s house has changed dramatically.
“They’ve skimmed it (the profile) down, and we can see the water,” she said.
Marti Tolleson says she and her husband, Tee Tolleson, enjoyed walking the course with their dogs during the time it was closed for construction.
The location and view can’t be beat, she said.
“It’s just beautiful; it’s quiet and well-maintained,” she added.
Tolleson explained that the community revolves around the golf course. After the golfers are off the course, she, and many of her neighbors, enjoy walking the course for exercise and some socializing.
“It’s an active lifestyle,” she said. “I’m not a golfer, but I enjoy the amenities, and enjoying being out with him.”
As members of Sea Island, in addition to golf, the Tollesons have access to dozens of activities and pursuits, including the beach, pools, tennis and restaurants.
Tolleson said her husband is the family golfer, and plays on a weekly basis, but he goes to the range to hit balls multiple times each week.
Moving to a golf community is a great idea for couples of grown children who find their nests empty, she said.
“You don’t have school and sports activities to attend,” she said. “How do you make friends when your kids are gone?”
Brannen Veal, director of golf for Sea Island Golf Club agrees with Tolleson’s assessment of golf communities. Veal explained that the golf club includes three 18-hole courses: Seaside, which is Tom Fazio Design Par 70, and home to The RSM Classic; the Par 72 newly redesigned and recently opened Plantation course, by Love Golf Design and the Retreat course, also a Par 72 redesigned Love Golf Design. Sea Island also owns the Ocean Forest Golf Club, which is home to a Par 72 Rees Jones course.
Proximity is the obvious advantage to living in a golf course community, particularly for golfers, because of the ease of accessibility for both play and practice. Other advantages include having common interests with neighbors.
“Your neighbors in the community share in some of the desire for golf and camaraderie that comes along with it,” he said.
As for non-golfers, there’s plenty to do.
“There is a large social aspect as well, and the many non-golf activities include tennis, pickle ball, swimming, playgrounds and bridge and other games in the clubhouse.”—Brannen Veal
ngela Harrison, of Frederica Realty, echoes both Tolleson’s and Veal’s sentiments.
Frederica Golf Club is at the north end of St. Simons Island, and it occupies a portion of the 3,000 acres of maritime forest the Sea Island Co. used to originally design both the golf club and the Frederica community, its accompanying neighborhood. Its 425-acre manmade, but spring fed, lake, Spanish Colonial-style clubhouse, Adirondack-influenced boathouse, pool, tennis, fitness center and pickle ball courts, all add to the ambience of the community’s centerpiece – its Tom Fazio-designed golf course.
“The practice area and learning center are state-of-the-art facilities which have attracted over a dozen PGA Tour professionals as members,” she said.
Living in a golf community underscores the adage “good friends make good neighbors.”
“A community of like-minded residents gravitate to gated golf course communities to share their lifestyle with kindred spirits with similar interests,” she said. “The sense of community in a club setting brings together those with a love of the outdoors, competitive sports, fishing, biking, wellness and amenities to recharge and relax, and form an instant group of friends.”
“Frederica, by its nature, is very exclusive; it is also a place that is uniquely inclusive.”
Like other golf course communities, Frederica Golf Club has a number of activities in which non-golfers can participate.
“Frederica’s 425-acre freshwater lake is one of the country’s best stocked trophy bass lakes,” Harrison said. “Whether you are enjoying a sunset cruise on one of the Club’s electric boats, paddling with grandkids in a hand-built canoe, reeling in a 10-pound largemouth bass or just enjoying the vistas and the natural environment filled with wildlife from the Adirondack-style boathouse or your back porch, water is a powerful part of Frederica.”
And, in addition to the aforementioned outdoor pool, tennis and pickle ball courts and fitness center, community members can enjoy a fire pit, also adjacent to the boathouse. A wide range of community clubs, including mahjong, book club, yoga and the Frederica Farms community garden, also invite residents to be involved.
Lest anyone has the impression of golf course communities being inhabited only by retirees – nothing could be further from the truth. These active neighborhoods make ideal places to raise families.
“The culture of golf club communities revolving around retired couples has evolved to structure activities which appeal to all generations of a family,” Harrison said. “The freedom for children to be able to experience a childhood similar to their parents is treasured.”
Plenty of family activities are available, including bike riding, fishing, learning golf and tennis, taking walks on the trails and enjoying the natural surroundings.
“All the while, the calendar of events offers something for members of all ages, from summer camps, golf and tennis clinics, dive-in movie nights, holiday events, ghost stories by the fire pit, or just a lazy day by the pool,” she said, adding that golf club communities offer ways for families to unplug and engage with one another. “Connecting with nature and family and disconnecting from our hectic world is a challenge most families face.”
Sea Palms, also on St. Simons Island, recently opened a new practice facility and updated golf course. Now owned by Sea Palms Coastal Management LLC, the transformation of the resort and conference center began with the redesign of its 18-hole championship golf course and practice facility, completed by Chattanooga-based golf course design firm, King Collins.
Unlike some golf clubs, Sea Palms offers activities for all ages to the community-at-large, including entertainment and dining in their on-premise restaurant. A number of activities abound, including an 18-hole golf course, two pools, a clubhouse, two fitness centers, tennis, recreational social programs including yoga, Pilates and other wellness programs offered to members, non-members and the general public. Advantages to the community include its convenient mid-island location, safe environment, proximity to good schools and the affordability of its houses and condominiums.
Jennifer Broadus, spokesperson for the community, says golf course communities provide scenic places to live.
“Whether you’re a golfer or not, and statistically half the people who live in such communities are not golfers, the green space provided by the course creates natural habitat, perpetuates lower housing density and promotes ecology; golfers benefit by living close to the amenity they enjoy, and golf course communities provide a rewarding, upscale lifestyle for their residents.” —Jennifer Broadus