When Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser laid out the plans that became the first resort community on America’s favorite island, the Sea Pines golf courses were integral parts of the dream. So were The Shops at Sea Pines Center. Legends grow simpler and more symbolic with age, losing detail as they grow, and so now that Hilton Head Island is known in some circles as “Golf Island,” the Sea Pines golf courses seem inevitable.
In fact, our courses were preceded by bike paths and walking trails, family residences and beach access, and places to shop and dine. And right in the middle of that original vision, halfway down “the Miracle Mile” connecting Harbour Town with South Beach, in the very center of the dream, was the site that became The Shops at Sea Pines Center.
It’s hard to tell the story of Hilton Head Island and the Sea Pines golf courses without relying heavily on the idea of blending. The founders were intent on blending human enjoyment with Nature. It is a lesson long associated with golf, but it was new to the practices and process of resort development. The concepts and covenants that fostered Sea Pines’ peaceful accommodation between development and natural beauty were in fact so influential – they led to nothing less than the way things are normally done nowadays – that it has become difficult to fully appreciate how revolutionary they were at the time. The Shops at Sea Pines Center are a key ingredient in this recipe.
Blending the Sea Pines golf courses with a renowned yacht basin, a bouquet of tennis courts that include the site of famous championships, a pier for boating excursions that turn couples into dolphin discoverers and children into intrepid pirates, and a collection of shops and amenities that combine elegance with convenience, the founders here at Sea Pines had a vision that extended well beyond the pleasures of the Sea Pines golf courses. The wholeness of life that surrounds the golfers who come to Hilton Head Island, and the enjoyment that their loved ones experience too, were built into the dream, the vision that became America’s favorite island.
Customs and Lifestyle of the Sea Pines Golf Courses
Golf has a tendency to give the appearance of taking place in a world all its own. Even on the Sea Pines golf courses, golf calls for its own attire, and that apparel has recently taken on a more athletic and less madcap style. Between today’s trim and appealing golf fashions, for both men and women, and the English-country-house style of the classic Bobby Jones epoch of golf in the 1920’s, there was a long era of loud trousers, and clothing that would clearly be out of place today, beyond the 19th hole.
The customs of golf extend well beyond the apparel. For golfers who were brought up in the game, the courtesies and traditions are second nature. That unspoken aspect of the ways of golf can be just has hard to master as a repeatable swing, for people who embark on the game as newcomers. Who goes first, what’s OK to say, where to stand as your partner takes a swing, the procedures and practices are more than just the rules of the game.
The lifestyle that ripples out from these customs and understandings can be pervasive. Friendships founded on the links translate further into the world beyond golf. Trust and familiarity grown in golf, famously finds its way into business relationships. Fathers find common ground with sons, and mothers with daughters. Couples discover time together that is more and more precious as life’s distractions take on digital rocket fuel. So, while there is no one “golf lifestyle,” there are sensibilities and priorities, rapport and relations, that carry on beyond, reflect the ways of the Sea Pines golf courses, and inspire a cordial atmosphere that brings visitors back to Hilton Head Island at rates unseen in other resort communities. That atmosphere makes residents out of many of those visitors. In fact, most of our neighbors began that way.
The Shops at Sea Pines Center are a carefully curated collection of amenities for supplying and enjoying this lifestyle to the fullest. Placing it in the middle of the dream was just one of the examples of visionary inspiration that makes Sea Pines unforgettable for many, and home for a fortunate few.
The Luxury of Convenience
The moment that one is tempted to see The Shops at Sea Pines Center as a kind of Fifth Avenue for Hilton Head Island, you notice that convenience is as much a part of the design as elegance. The founders were focused far beyond the Sea Pines golf courses, to the lifestyle that they would play a part in inspiring. Keeping you close to the enjoyment, by making life’s errands efficient, is very much a goal of the design. That’s why a gas station, a bank, and a post office were sited here in the original design.
Casual enjoyment, too, makes the Center distinctive. Whether the mood is fine dining or pizza, ice cream or moonshine, The Shops at Sea Pines Center offers an answer all its own. It has long been noticed that people who enjoy the advantages that come with broad horizons and extensive options are rarely aloof and almost never pretentious. Haughty attitudes are the province of people who imagine position and privilege, not those who really have them. You’ll feel this pleasing openness, this disarming informality throughout The Shops at Sea Pines Center. Not only in the shops and restaurants and amenities themselves, but also in the beautiful plaza that weaves them together, with its fountains and foliage and statuary, its sights and sounds of relaxation and enjoyment, the Center is a good deal more than just the sum of its parts.
Here is where Sea Pines residents and guests and visitors get what they need, enjoy what they wish, and discover what they want. Without departing from the dream designed so carefully into the life of Sea Pines, people get what they need. The ideal of gracious living, in the arms of Nature and the courtesies of culture and community, is realized here, just as the founders envisioned it.