Berkeley Hall pays attention to every last detail

By Joel Zuckerman, Contributor

BLUFFTON, S.C. -- There are a number of really good reasons why Berkeley Hall, an upscale golf development in Bluffton, has attracted more than 500 families in little more than two years time.

This is an 860-acre natural wonderland, with more than a mile of frontage on the scenic Okatie River. The development will eventually have a total of 770 members with an estimated 420 home sites, making it one of the lowest density private golf club communities on the East Coast. While home sites are priced from $219,500, one of the unique features is that equity memberships can be purchased independently, and aren't tied to a land purchase. This is a real rarity in an area that practically invented the concept of a golf /real estate development.

Certainly the temperate climate and ideal location, some seven miles west of Hilton Head Island, are major factors. So are the two Tom Fazio "core" golf courses, where roadways, houses and other infrastructure are kept on the perimeter of the playing areas, and allow for a pure, almost a throwback golf experience from a bygone era. "Once a member steps onto the first tee of either course, he will not be disturbed by streets, interior homes or long walks between greens and tees. It will be pure, traditional golf in a beautiful, natural environment - golf the way it was meant to be played," explains developer John Reed.

Many buyers have also been attracted to yet another amenity, one that arguably has no equal in the golf universe. Berkeley Hall has developed a reputation as one of the finest practice facilities and learning centers in the world. A certain portion of these enthusiastic members are bona fide range rats and practice addicts. They have found the Promised Land, and can beat balls to their hearts content on this 30 acre Shangri-La.

"I've never seen anything like it," marvels Loren Roberts, the eight time PGA Tour winner, and tournament course record holder at nearby Harbour Town.

"It's beyond my wildest dreams, and I've practiced all over the world. Any shot you can imagine can be practiced there without heading to the course itself."

Billy Andrade, with four Tour wins to his credit, offers similar sentiments.

"If you're into working on your game, Berkeley Hall is the Mecca. It's a phenomenal facility; the size, the attention to detail, it's beyond belief. It's truly the best practice grounds I've ever seen."

Roberts and Andrade aren't the only marquee golfers who've gone out of their way to tour Berkeley Hall. Players like Mark Calcavecchia, Sergio Garcia, Rich Beem and Brad Faxon have all visited Berkeley Hall with the express purpose of seeing the facilities, and all have come away marveling.

"I've got such a vast array of sophisticated equipment at my disposal, and I attempt to use it all when I instruct our members," explains Director of Instruction Andrew Rice, who spent six years working for David Leadbetter in Florida before moving to the Carolina Lowcountry in 2001. But while the practice facility and learning center is an eye-catcher, there's still more to love about Berkeley Hall.

The Spa and Fitness Center is yet another jewel in the crown.

The facility offers members modern cardiovascular and strength training equipment, saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzi, aerobics room, spa treatment rooms, both indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, basketball, volleyball and an outdoor recreation area and playground.

The River Park is another unusual asset, custom tailored for the outdoor enthusiast. It's situated on the Okatie River at Berkeley Hall, and sets the stage for adventures among the tidal marshes, abundant wildlife and memorable vistas of the Lowcountry's inland waterways. The community dock has a River Pavillion for intimate gatherings, a floating dock, kayak launch, boat storage, and a cleaning station for the day's catch.

Amidst all the other attractions, perhaps the most compelling piece of the Berkeley Hall puzzle is the recently completed Southern Colonial-style Clubhouse. Designed by the renowned Atlanta-based architectural firm NCG Architects, the Clubhouse will serve both as a gathering place for Berkeley Hall golfers and the social activity center for members and guests.

The Clubhouse features panoramic views of the 1st, 9th, 10th and 18th holes of the North Course. The interior is finished in a traditional Carolina Lowcountry style, and includes a "Grand Hallway", 70-feet long and 18-feet wide, which serves as a central connecting passageway. This centerpiece hallway takes its inspiration from an architectural element typical in classic Southern homes - the center foyer. Besides fine dining options, there's a mixed grill, a separate bar / tap room, a private "wine cellar" dining room, spacious men's and ladies' locker rooms and lounges with food service, and a fully stocked golf shop.

J.J. Sehlke, the 34-year-old General Manager of Berkeley Hall, came to Bluffton from Boca Raton, where his previous employer was billionaire Wayne Huizenga.

"One of the things that drew me here was the commitment to excellence. When you work for Wayne Huizenga there's only one way to do things, the right way. John Reed and Gary Rowe are the Berkeley Hall developers, and they espouse the same philosophy here. There are no excuses, and everything's done right."

For information call (888)-817-8458 or visit Berkeley Hall is located on US 278 about 7 miles west of the Hilton Head Bridge and about nine miles east of Interstate 95

For those wishing to arrange a visit, there are options to stay on property. There is also a Fairfield Inn and a Hampton Inn in close proximity to Berkeley Hall. There's also an excellent array of shopping options a few miles east on US 278 at the Hilton Head Factory Outlet Stores. Some of the best area restaurants nearby include Pepper's Porch, Belfair Café and Lorraine's Café. Staying west of Hilton Head also offers an additional benefit as well. The history, mystery, fine dining and abundant nightlife of Savannah are quite close by. It's little more than thirty minutes drive from the gates of Berkeley Hall to the Savannah River Bridge, gateway to Georgia's most beautiful city.

Joel ZuckermanJoel Zuckerman, Contributor

Joel Zuckerman is based in Savannah, Georgia and Park City, Utah. He is the author of five books, and his golf and travel stories have appeared in more than 100 publications around the world, including Sports Illustrated, Golfweek, Travel+Leisure Golf, Continental and Golf International.

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