The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort

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Discover the renowned King and Prince Golf Course, which was developed by respected architect Joe Lee.

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The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort’s golf heritage dates back to the 1980s.

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The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort is located on St. Simons Island, which is one of the “Golden Isles” of the larger chain of Sea Islands. Stretching from Jacksonville to Charleston, the Sea Islands are barrier islands that protect the coastline for much of the southeastern United States. Once a haven for wild dance parties, the resort itself has since evolved into a world-renowned holiday destination. It is filled with a wealth of activities to try, including tennis, horseback riding, and clay-pigeon shooting. Guests are invited to play the award-winning King and Prince Golf Course as well, located just south of the Hampton River. The course was specifically designed by renowned golf architect Joe Lee during the 1980s, who planned 18 holes. His fantastic 72-par layout traversed around towering oaks, crossed over numerous sand dunes, and traversed various lagoons. After months of continuous construction, Lee’s course at St. Simons Island opened in 1989. The spot that he selected was part of the former site for a historic manor called “Hampton Plantation.” (Originally developed in the 18th century, the plantation was once owned by a signer of the U.S. Constitution named Pierce Butler. Butler’s family eventually inherited the estate several decades later, selling off the land right before the outbreak of the American Civil War.) Desiring to further augment its reputation, the resort team initiated an extensive restoration to the golf course in 2009. That year, they turned to landscaper Billy Fuller to restore the course and enhance Joe Lee's original design. Today, golfers travel along 800-feet of elevated cart bridges to still experience the spectacular holes that remain gently carved into the island. While four of the signature holes highlight play on The King and Prince Golf Course's back nine, the entire 18-hole, par-72 course offers an experience that is unrivalled elsewhere along the Georgia coastline. The club’s extraordinary practice facility also includes a 6,500 sq.-ft. mini-verde putting green, a 3000 sq.-ft. mini-verde chipping green, and five target greens.

  • About the Location +

    The story of St. Simons Island harkens back to the mid-16th century, when Spanish colonists first attempted to establish Catholic missions along Georgia’s entire coastline. Two missions eventually appeared on St. Simons Island—San Buenaventura de Guadalquini and Santo Domingo de Asao. But the missions proved to be short-lived as the villagers fled south to Florida in order to escape constant raids by renegade pirates. Meanwhile, settlers from Great Britain established the Province of Carolina, whose borders stretched from Cape Fear to the Savannah River. As such, English and Spanish colonials often skirmished over control of Georgia’s coastline, as both countries saw the region as a buffer zone for their respective colonies. At the height of the conflict in the 1730s, General James Edward Oglethorpe founded a town at the mouth of the Savannah River that he called “Savannah.” From Savannah spawned the Province of Georgia, which directly functioned as the defensive cushion for the southern border of British America. General Oglethorpe further enhanced the colony’s role as a bulwark against potential foreign incursions by erecting Fort Frederica on the western coastline of St. Simons Island. Named for the heir to the British throne, Prince Frederick Louis, the citadel served as the main post for the United Kingdom in the southern colonies throughout most of the mid-18th century.

    The Spanish threat toward Georgia eventually faded following their defeat at the Battle of Bloody Marsh during the strangely named colonial conflict known as the “War for Jenkins’ Ear.” The fort subsequently declined in its usefulness, save for a brief period during the Seven Years War. By the 1770s, the citadel’s garrison had completely relocated to the mainland, leaving behind only a few merchants who once serviced the location.In the years immediately following the American Revolution, St. Simons Island was largely uninhabited. The few people remaining on the island took to agriculture, growing cotton, rice, and various sustenance crops. As it turned out, cotton flourished within the climate of St. Simons Island. Soon enough, the locals began clearing large swathes of the region’s densely forested areas in order to create massive farms that would explicitly cultivate cotton. (Interestingly, the wood collected from St. Simons Island were used to build warships for the United States Navy, including the famed USS Constitution). Those farms gradually grew into 14 separate plantations, with Pierce Butler’s Hampton Point Plantation becoming the largest. By the dawn of the 19th century, Butler’s estate grew some 800 acres of cotton, as well as nearly 300 acres of rice.

    In the wake of the American Civil War, various companies established lumber mills across St. Simons Island. Two New Yorkers named Norman Dodge and Titus G. Meigs opened the very first milling plant, setting off a chain reaction that saw many more appear throughout the area. Architect Charles B. Cluskey then designed a brand-new lighthouse to help facilitate the maritime traffic that was now routinely heading toward St. Simons Island. An unintended side-effect of the lighthouse soon emerged, in which local entrepreneurs began ferrying increasing numbers of tourists to the region. News quickly spread about the tranquil environment of St. Simons Island, inspiring families to establish their own summer houses along its shoreline. Several entrepreneurs also began constructing a few hotels and resorts as well, giving rise to a prosperous tourism industry that was to last well into the 20th century. Additional developments further enhanced the region’s appeal to tourists during the 1920s, culminating with the debut of the F.J. Torras Causeway. (More than 5,000 automobiles alone traveled the route on its very first day!) Both the temporary and permanent population of St. Simons Island rose exponentially during the 1940s, even as the nation found itself embroiled in the Second World War. Soldiers found the island to be very attractive as a vacation spot for when they left their respective bases for leave. This popularity continued to be strong for the remainder of the century, which transformed St. Simons Island into one of the most exclusive vacation hotspots in the entire country.


  • About the Architect +

    Joe Lee: The architect responsible for creating the King and Prince Golf Course was “Gentleman” Joe Lee, one of America’s most accomplished golf course architects. Indeed, Lee was already a well-established name in golf by the time he began crafting the course during the late 1980s. Lee had begun his career several decades prior upon completing his studies at the University of Miami and serving a stint in the U.S. Navy. He specifically found a job designing courses under the great Dick Wilson, whom he had met while playing at the Delray Beach Municipal Golf Course. A revered landscape architect in his own right, Wilson had recruited Lee to help handle the work that the former had gained at the time. Together, the two men quickly set about designing numerous, high-profile golf courses across the nation, including the renowned TPC Blue Monster at Doral. The partnership even had Lee construct additional courses in places as far away as South America and Europe. Over time, Lee subsequently became one of Wilson’s main protégés. He thus began to assume direct control over several projects, especially once Wilson’s health started to deteriorate during the early 1960s. When Wilson finally died in 1965, Lee took over his design firm. Lee continued to work across the United States, with some of his best work appearing in Florida. Among his most prolific courses in the state were Viera East Golf Club, Bent Pine Golf Club, and the Bay Hill Golf Course. (A few of Lee’s fantastic designs appeared outside of Florida included the Cog Hill Golf & Country Club and Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club.) Lee crafted every course to be challenging, utilizing large bunkers, water hazards, and sloping greens frequently. But he also endeavored to make them fair, too, commenting that players did not wish for a purely frustrating experience. As such, his designs received great praise from many contemporaries, with Jack Nicklaus even stating that, “Joe Lee [had] never built a bad course.”


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