Hilton Head courses recovering from hurricane

Heritage Golf Group finds positives in Hurricane Matthew recovery; expecting great spring

The folks at Heritage Golf Group seem to be applying the old axiom, "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," after the courses' recovery from Hurricane Matthew last October on Hilton head Island.

Heritage Golf, which has three golf clubs and 99 holes on Hilton Head Island, suffered substantial damage as a result of the hurricane. The storm also affected the other courses and businesses on the island, including Sea Pines Resort and Palmetto Dunes. Like Palmetto Dunes' Fazio Course, Heritage Golf Group still has one course closed.

"Planters Row at Port Royal sustained the most damage and won't open until late May," said Rick Shoemaker, director of golf operations for the Heritage Group on Hilton Head Island.

But the rest of the group's Hilton Head golf courses, Port Royal's Robbers Row and Barony courses, 27-hole Shipyard Golf Club and 18-hole Oyster Reef are doing well. There's been plenty of play during a mild winter, and with repairs and grow-in of new turf ahead of schedule because of those warm temperatures, Shoemaker said he is "cautiously optimistic" about a great start to the spring for all the courses. "We are really proud of the work our team is doing."

Here's a look at what the ninth hole on the Galleon Course at Shipyard Golf Club looked like right after Hurricane Matthew.

As of right now, all the courses, with exception of Planters Row are open and even starting to green up. Shoemaker expects the courses to be in very good shape this spring. In fact, he said, there may be some silver linings when it comes to cleaning up after Hurricane Matthew.

First, Heritage lost almost 3,000 trees over seven golf courses. While that cleanup was cumbersome, it did open up the golf courses, providing more sunlight for better turf conditions. It also opened the way for crews to clear out lots underbrush, which means fewer lost balls for golfers.

Here's what the ninth hole on Galleon looked like after cleanup.

A few of the lost trees, of course, were strategic, unfortunately, and Heritage Golf is replacing some of those. For example, Rees Jones Design has been brought in to restore integrity to the Oyster Reef Course. Most of the lost trees, however, have been replaced with landscaping or turf.

With repairs ahead of schedule and all the courses open, Heritage Golf Group is offering several golf packages this spring. Among them is a spring package that includes three nights at the Sonesta Resort and three rounds of golf, starting at $195 per person.

Or if you want an unlimited golf package, stay four nights at the Hampton Inn, starting at $150 per player based on double occupancy.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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Heritage Golf Group finds positives in Hurricane Matthew recovery; expecting great spring