Kiawah Island is known for its golf. The island is home to five resort courses, including the famous Ocean Course, but most visitors to Kiawah never realize that there are two additional courses. The two layouts – the River Course designed by Tom Fazio and Tom Watson-designed Cassique – are both part of the private Kiawah Island Club. Membership is available to island property owners and offers many amenities including a spa, beach club, marsh house, and more. Recently, the club has added to its offerings.
The newest golf addition is the Golf Learning Center. The center is an instruction and club-fitting hub located at Cassique that features the latest and greatest teaching technology. The three indoor hitting bays are fitted with the newest TrackMan and Foresight launch monitors that allow the instructors to monitor and display every aspect of the golf swing and ball flight on the large flatscreen TVs mounted to the walls. The instruction team also uses a suite of cutting edge teaching technologies that are more unusual, including MySwing and K-Vest units, which are sensors placed on the body that create 3D models of the player’s swing. Each hitting bay floor also has a BodiTrack Pressure Mat, which tracks weight shifts from address to finish. Finally, the learning center has a Science and Motion PuttLab (SAM) that dissects every aspect of the putting stroke. It is used for both putting instruction and putter fitting.
In addition to teaching, club fitting is a core offering at the Golf Learning Center. The club has even hired a director of club fitting, who can do anything from a full-bag fitting to small equipment tweaks. During our latest visit a member was working with the director of club fitting to bend his clubs’ loft angles to dial in exact distances. After a series of shots were tracked on the launch monitors, the club fitter took the club into the center’s workshop and made small adjustments before further testing and hitting.
That use of the facility is exactly what the teaching staff wants to see. The goal isn’t for members to use every technology available, but instead to maximize what works best for their game. “There isn’t anything a member could ask for that we don’t have,” says Director of Instruction Carol Preisinger. The ultimate goal is for members to take their skills from the learning center to the course.
The Kiawah Island Club has recently made renovations to Cassique, the links-style layout that originally opened in 2000. Revetted bunkers, the same as you’d find in Scotland, have been added, however, the bunkers at Cassique are actually built with artificial turf, a technology used at a number of courses including Secession Golf Club in Beaufort, S.C. They are called EcoBunkers and require little-to-no maintenance for decades.
The bunkers take a design like Cassique and make it feel considerably more like a links course. Currently only a handful of holes have the EcoBunkers, but the reception has been great and the club plans to renovate all others.
Teams have also expanded every green on the course back to their original sizes since the putting surfaces had shrunk over the years due to changing mowing patterns. Additionally, the first and sixth fairways were expanded so that groups of bunkers once in the rough are now in the fairway. The subtle change makes the holes much more visually appealing and requires players to be more creative off the tee.
These updates and additions to Cassique are only a small part of the growth and constant improvement taking place at the Kiawah Island Club.
For more information about Kiawah Island Real Estate, visit kiawahisland.com.