Georgia Golf: Marsh Madness
Much of the course is lined with the moderate but handsome houses of the Hampton Club development, but most of the fairways are wide enough to keep the window-repair bills to a minimum. I was a bit embarrassed, when trying to thread my drive between two lakes on the 16th, to drop my ball in front of a porch full of people. They were all too happy to watch me shovel a hole in their yard with my 7-iron. Then, from the 17th tee, I dropped one in the back yard of the same house. They must have thought they were in a hail storm.
I played the back nine first, to avoid a backlog of foursomes during the prime morning tee times. That put me in exile out on that dreaded marsh island a little sooner than I was probably ready for, but it did give me some wonderful hours with the egrets and other wildlife that's active before the Georgia heat settles in. The long pond protecting the 14th green was just full of turtles -- and Titleists. And much later -- about 94 strokes later, in fact -- I finished up a fine day, coming in as a fellow whip-cast a fishing line into Butler Lake, the sprawling water that protects three separate greens. A sign posted on the bank read "Fishing for Members Only."
By then I had forgotten some of the abuse I had suffered from the voracious, ball-sucking marsh fairways and was able to appreciate the tableau of a man happily fishing in a setting that was once so beautiful to me: the shade of sprawling oaks, the perfume of decayed shrimp and sunburned grass, the promise of a planter's punch in the clubhouse. And most especially, the wide green estuary spread out so innocently on all sides.
I can't hate you, marsh.
But here's what will keep us friends:
More loft off the tee.
Steve Hendrix will be online to discuss this story Monday at 2 p.m. during the Travel section's regular weekly chat on www.washingtonpost.com.
Details: St. Simons Island, Ga.
GETTING THERE: St. Simons Island, Ga., is roughly equidistant from the airports of Savannah, Ga., (to the north) and Jacksonville, Fla., to the south -- about an hour's drive from either. That gives you two destinations for your airfare search. US Airways currently has a round-trip fare of $223 from BWI to Savannah (via Charlotte) and Delta has BWI to Jacksonville for $135 round trip (through Cincinnati). Delta also flies nonstop from National to JAX for $184.
GOLFING THERE: The 6,000-yard
Hampton Club course wraps appealingly around the live oaks and salt marshes at the northern end of St. Simons. The signature feature is a set of four holes on a marsh island, connected by an 800-foot elevated wooden cart causeway. A round during the summer costs $79, including cart. Greens fees drop after Sept. 1, but the fall rates haven't been set yet Info: 912-634-0255,
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