October 23, 2013

Sea Pines Resort unveils designs for new Harbour Town clubhouse

If you haven't seen the rendering but want some idea what the new Harbour Town Golf Links clubhouse will look like, don't think locker room.

Think art gallery or museum, instead, Sea Pines Resort officials recommend.

Architects and resort representatives unveiled conceptual plans for a new $20 million-plus clubhouse Tuesday at a meeting of the Town of Hilton Head Island Design Review Board.

"The design of the new clubhouse is intended to capture the spirit and history" of Hilton Head Island's annual PGA Tour event, according to plans that the board approved.

Harbour Town Golf Links is home to the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. Plans for the course's new clubhouse call for "wide galleries on the main floor so the wonderful collection of tournament artwork can be prominently displayed."

Every Heritage winner since the tournament's beginning in 1969 has been captured in an original oil painting by a celebrated artist. At first they were painted by Coby Whitmore, whose images appeared on covers of the Saturday Evening Post through the 1940s and '50s. The paintings now hang in the clubhouse, the grill, the locker room and the adjacent conference center, and are featured each year on tickets and daily pairing sheets.

Resort officials want to replace the 11,000-square-foot clubhouse with an 18,000-square-foot, three-story facility with locker facilities for tournament players and regular guests, according to drawings.

The clubhouse, which opened the year the Heritage began, has one of the smaller locker rooms on the PGA Tour.

During the first 31 years of the tournament, players were separated by name into the men's and women's locker rooms off the clubhouse lobby. In 2001, the players' locker room was moved to a conference center built next to the original clubhouse, but even the newer facility does not meet the needs of the PGA Tour and its players, according to the resort.

The clubhouse also does not have men's and women's locker rooms for daily play.

The new clubhouse also would include an expanded pro shop, a new restaurant, and private dining and meeting space that could accommodate tournament sponsors.

"It's really going to bring a new level of quality to the event," Sea Pines Resort president Steve Birdwell said.

Should final plans be approved later this year, demolition would begin after the 2014 Heritage in April, with a new clubhouse completed in time for the following year's tournament, Birdwell said.

The course would remain open during construction. Golf operations would move into a temporary trailer in the clubhouse parking lot, he said.


In other Design Review Board action, designs for a 149-foot cell tower inside Hilton Head Plantation received final approval, despite protest from some surrounding homeowners.

The plantation, however, still awaits town-staff approval of a minor change to the plantation's land-use plans that would allow the tower, which would be disguised as an exceptionally tall pine tree.

The tower would be built between White Tail Deer Lane and Dolphin Head Drive and serve Verizon Wireless customers. Three other carriers could be added later, and AT&T has expressed interest in being one of them, plantation general manager Peter Kristian said. If approved, construction would begin this winter and be completed early next year, he added.

Strengthening wireless coverage became a top priority of the town in 2011. The island's tree canopy, and town rules on where and how towers can be built has contributed to spotty coverage, according to wireless carriers and industry experts.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at

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