When the legendary World Golf Hall of Fame architect, Pete Dye, designed the golf course at The Ford Plantation, his goal was to create a course that was fun and playable for golfers at every skill level. The end result was a unique course featuring a parkland style front nine and a links-style back nine, that is unlike any other place in the world.
In 2014, The Ford Plantation Golf Course underwent a $7.5 million renovation with Pete Dye’s direct involvement. It’s not often that an architect has the opportunity to revisit one of his/her creations, and the result was what Pete Dye proudly proclaimed to be his “finest Southern links.” Since then, the golf course has received high praise from numerous golf publications.
- “Best Modern Courses (1960–present),” Golfweek
- “Best Golf Courses in Georgia,” Golf Digest
- “Top 100 Residential Courses,” Golfweek
- Host for the Georgia PGA Open
The Ford Plantation Golf Course features the long, scenic views that are one of Pete Dye’s signatures. It’s a course that was built with member play in mind, making it a joy to play for the average golfer. Ladies will appreciate the attention given to the placement of the women’s tees, which will typically eliminate the need to carry water or larger hazards. This, too, is often the case with Pete Dye courses, as Mrs. Dye was herself an avid golfer and greatly influenced the way Mr. Dye’s designs played for female players.
This is not to say that The Ford Plantation Golf Course is without challenges. On the contrary, each hole sports seven sets of tees: Black, Gold, Blue, Modified, White, Red and even Family Tees which can make the course play anywhere from 7,443 yards from the Black to 5,002 yards from the Reds. The placement of each tee box adds both distance and difficulty to each hole, often bringing additional hazards into play. Further, taking the hard line on holes will require players to be much more precise with their shot placement as shortened lines bring hazards more into play.
Best of all, members of The Ford Plantation never need a tee time to play this majestic course.
Ryan Skipton, Director of Golf
Ryan Skipton was named Director of Golf at The Ford Plantation in September of 2014. Skipton came from the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, NY, where he served as Senior Assistant Professional. He previously spent time at The Creek Club (Locust Valley, NY), the Dye Preserve (Jupiter, FL), and Pebble Beach Golf Links (Pebble Beach, CA).
Throughout his career, Skipton has distinguished himself through a blend of teaching, member relations, merchandising acumen, and playing prowess. Skipton is a graduate of the Coastal Carolina PGA Professional Golf Management program and holds a BS degree in Business Administration, Marketing. He is also Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Certified Level 1 and Level 2 Junior Coach as well as TrackMan Level 1 Certified.
Inspired by classic antebellum plantation homes, The Ford Plantation Clubhouse features four large Grecian columns and a wide second-story covered porch that overlooks a 670-feet oak alleé formed by 250-year-old trees. The double row of sentinel live oaks was described by New York City’s Central Park designer, Frederick Law Olmsted in 1853, “I have hardly in all my life seen anything so impressively grand and beautiful.”
The second floor of the Clubhouse features a large dining room that affords diners a stunning view of the Ogeechee River and the unique links-style back nine at The Ford Plantation Golf Course. Cuisine at the Clubhouse is influenced by different regions from around the world, yet tailored specifically to members’ individual palate by Chef Jerry Ford and his staff.
The first floor of the Clubhouse houses The Ford Plantation Market and the men’s and ladies’ locker rooms. At The Ford Plantation Market, members can pick up items to-go: sandwiches, snacks, fresh bread, homemade soups, and a selection of beverages. The men’s and ladies’ locker rooms feature sitting rooms, showers, changing rooms with lockers and bathroom facilities.
The Golf Pro Shop carries a wide range of merchandise for men and ladies, including clothing by Peter Millar, Footjoy, Columbia, and KJUS as well as golf equipment from PXG, Titleist, Callaway, and Ping. The Golf Pro Shop has a staff of experienced PGA Golf Professionals to accommodate members’ golf needs. In addition, the Golf Pro Shop coordinates numerous golf-related services and activities including the following:
- Weekly/daily games
- Golf clinics
- Advanced private instruction
- Golf club repair
- Golf club fitting
In 2016, The Ford Plantation received certification in Environmental Planning from the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP). This international program is administered by Audubon International and is designed to help landowners preserve and enhance the environmental quality of their property. The plan was developed by Nelson Caron, Director of Golf Course & Grounds Maintenance, who is also recognized for his ongoing work in environmental stewardship.
Nelson Caron, Director of Golf Course & Grounds Maintenance
Nelson Caron has more than twenty years of golf course experience at golf clubs ranging from 18–63 holes. He is considered a leader in the golf industry, a result of his hard work and pursuit of more sustainable golf course management practices. Caron has been on the lecture circuit for eight years talking about precision agriculture and the environmental management systems employed at The Ford Plantation. He speaks at important meetings of environmentalists including the Environmental Protection Agency and Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. In 2014, he teamed up with Pete Dye to complete a major reconstruction of The Ford Plantation Golf Course.