SC golf course with stunning ocean views is getting $3M facelift. Here is a preview

Ocean Point golf course on Fripp Island has been a legacy golf destination since it was first opened for play in 1964, with its unencumbered views of the Atlantic Ocean leaving players and visitors amazed by the natural beauty of the terrain - even if the coastal winds added a few strokes to their scorecards.

The original 60-year-old George Cobb-designed course is more than overdue for a face lift and Seascape Hospitality Group is embarking on making it another must-play destination for South Carolina golf.

“You are taking an incredibly beautiful landscape and making it even more beautiful,” says Ken Guerra, a spokesman for Seascape Hospitality Group, which owns Fripp Island Golf and Beach Resort.

As the crow flies, the course is located just 30 miles up the coast from Hilton Head’s famous Pete Dye-designed Harbour Town Golf Links, which is busy preparing for next week’s RBC Heritage, a signature event this year featuring the best golfers in the world playing in the Lowcountry.

Seascape Hospitality Group purchased the Golf and Beach Resort on the barrier island off the South Carolina Coast in January 2023 for more than $20 million. The resort operates island amenities such as tennis and pickleball courts, a marina, two main pools, nine restaurants and a nature center and Ocean Point and a second 18-hole golf course.

It’s biggest capital investment to date – an additional $3 million – will be modernizing Ocean Point golf course, which is best known for its five ocean-view holes.

“It’s in very, very good shape right now, people love it,” Guerra said. “But we think modernizing it will just make it exponentially better.”

One of changes that’s expected to make the course even more visually appealing involves converting over 200,000 square feet of grass to long tracks of sand and stone known as waste bunkers. The Dye concept has long been famous for incorporating these course design elements into their redesigns.

“It’s an element that many very high-end courses have moved to because it’s just so naturally beautiful,” Guerra said.

In addition to the visual appeal, waste areas generally require less maintenance and water, adding the sustainability of the course, Guerra added.

Additional changes planned

Resort General Manager Tom Frost thinks the biggest change golfers will notice will be visual because of the waste areas and other changes. “In some ways, it’s going to be a completely different look,” Frost says.

Concrete cart paths also will be replaced with crushed limestone and all 18 sand bunkers will be renovated and reshaped. “Instead of looking at a round bunker,” Frost says, “it may have some unique design and shape.”

Areas with thick vegetation will be cleared to open up additional view corridors. “We’re not talking about cutting down a bunch of trees,” Guerra said. “It’s really more simple vegetation.”

Design leader: ‘Architect’s playground’

Ocean Point, which was built in 1964, was designed by George Cobb, a famous golf course architect whose design work also included the 9-hole par 3 course at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters.

But it will soon have a connection to Pete Dye, the Harbour Town designer. The resort hired Cynthia Dye, Pete Dye’s niece and the Dye Designs Group to oversee the renovations at Ocean Point.

Cynthia Dye, the lead architect, said her team will bring a modern vision to the Ocean Point course while preserving Cobb’s original design.

“With five holes of unobstructed oceanfront views, Ocean Point golf course is undoubtedly an architect’s playground,” Dye said in a news release.

Work is expected to begin in June and should be completed by October.

By sprucing up the course, the new owners hope to please year-round residents while drawing more visitors to the island 18 miles east of Beaufort that boasts more than 3 miles of coastline.

Other improvements

Since the purchase, founders Adam Fuller and Joe Guerra (Ken’s brother) have invested more than $5 million on repairs, upgrades and equipment and another $12 million acquiring additional property and assets that add to the resort’s menu of amenities and services, Ken Guerra says. That includes last spring’s $1.9 million purchase of the 62-acre St. Helena Island’s Camelot Farms Equestrian Center, which is located 10 miles down Sea Island Parkway from Fripp.

An aerial view of a Fripp Island Resort golf course.
An aerial view of a Fripp Island Resort golf course.

Part of larger strategy

At Fripp, 85% of the people who own houses or condominiums, or about 1,500 families, are members of the Fripp Island Club, which gives them golf course privileges. But it also draws thousands of vacationers. About 23,000 rounds of golf are played at the 18-hole course annually, with guests accounting for around 20,000 of those rounds.

The capital improvements at the golf course and other facilities are part of a broader strategy to attract more visitors in the spring and fall, filling more vacation rental homes during the shoulder seasons, Guerra says. But residents, he adds, will love the upgrades, too.

Other improvements at the resort that are in the works include doubling the number of pickleball courts to 16 and a high-end putting course that will be located within the pickleball and tennis complex.