Wexford Plantation Reopens after Remodel by "The King"

Hilton Head Island, S.C., mayor Drew Laughlin proclaimed October 20, 2011, "Arnold Palmer Day" in conjunction with Palmer's return to the island for the grand reopening of the Wexford Plantation golf course.

"Our town and community are committed to excellence in all that we do," said Mayor Laughlin, "and nothing exemplifies this better than Arnold Palmer and Wexford's new golf course."

Thursday morning, Palmer landed on the island aboard his Cessna Citation, accompanied by members of his design team, and following a tour of the new Wexford golf course that now bears his name, struck a ceremonial tee shot and entertained during a lunch and media event.

Palmer first made his mark on Hilton Head in 1969, when he captured the PGA Tour's inaugural Heritage Classic on then brand-new Harbour Town Golf Links. His victory lent invaluable credibility to a tournament, a golf course and an entire island.

Now, Arnold Palmer Design Company (APDC) has added to his legacy on the island again by remodeling the golf course at Wexford Plantation, a 525-acre golf, yachting and tennis community in Hilton Head's south end.

The 18-hole Wexford course was originally designed by Willard C. Byrd and opened in 1983. Wexford celebrated its first 25 years in the spring of 2008 and recently spent $3.9 million renovating its Coastal-style clubhouse that faces Broad Creek's marshlands and Wexford's private marina, which is isolated by one of only three lock systems on the East Coast.

The club shut down its course for a renovation in April and has now reopened as an Arnold Palmer Signature Course. The new design winds through stately Southern residences within the plantation and winds through oaks and pines, involving ponds next to the marshland.

Following APDC's renovation, each hole at Wexford presents a new look, challenge, and strategy. The firm also renovated the driving range and practice area, adding tee space and target greens while improving visibility.

Considering Wexford's diverse membership - working professionals, 100-plus children, active boaters, tennis players, croquet players, golfers and retirees, the club wanted a course that three generations of members can play and have fun.

"Our intent was to create a new design in the spirit and tradition of America's classic golf courses and bring a modern interpretation or twist to their enduring standard and a few select template holes such as The Road Hole, Redan, Alps or Biarritz," said APDC senior architect Brandon Johnson, lead designer on the Wexford project.

Added APDC senior architect Thad Layton: "Wexford is by no means a replica course, we take inspiration from certain places and our inspiration for the Wexford Plantation remodel is founded in traditional and classic golf course architecture."

Wexford's renovation encompassed repositioning and reorienting tee complexes, significant bunker removal, and increasing sun exposure by widening fairway corridors. APDC also added more character to the greens and surrounding complexes with roll-offs, roll-ons and strong visuals.

"We wanted to give the golfer several options of play off the tee and around the greens to cause him or her to think about their upcoming shot," Johnson added. "By significantly reducing the amount of bunker space, repositioning them in more visible and strategic locations and widening the fairways we were able to add a previously missing strategic element to the golf course while allowing more room and avenues of play for the higher handicap player."

While Wexford will stand as the only Arnold Palmer Signature Course on Hilton Head, this is not Palmer's first design in the Lowcountry. APDC also designed Crescent Pointe in Bluffton, S.C., along with Old Tabby Links on nearby Spring Island.

"We are delighted to be back in the Lowcountry to create a special and unique golf experience for the membership at Wexford," said Palmer. "We hope the strategy, options and variety of play challenge your intellect and allow you to find the best ways to navigate the course based on your personal game. Wexford is a special place to us and we enjoyed the responsibility of remaking this exceptional club."