Written by Joel Zuckerman
hen I first drove into the brand-spanking-new development of Tradition, South Carolina, a few months back, I couldn’t help but remember the words of longtime local developer John Reed. He once told me, “When we decided to build Colleton River Plantation, just west of the island bridge, people thought we were nuts. The common wisdom was that nobody would build a home in a high-end golf community that wasn’t on the island itself.”
That supposedly risky decision back in the early 90s proved to be a wise one, and in the ensuing 15 years, the trek westward has continued unabated. Colleton River gave way to Belfair, which preceded Berkeley Hall, which came before Tradition, in Hardeeville, which in truth, is far closer to I-95 than it is to Hilton Head Island.
It’s been said that in a decade or so Hardeeville will be the state’s third-largest city, trailing only Columbia and Charleston. Though at this writing there are just a handful of model homes and a membership roster that can be counted on one hand, Tradition, upon build-out, will go a long way towards explaining the explosive growth in the offing.
David Wilding, former first assistant to longtime head professional John Farrell at Harbour Town, is the director of golf at Tradition National Golf Club. “This is a very unique project. Golf is a very important element, but only one of about a dozen important amenities that will eventually be part of this community. It will take a decade or so, but when this project is complete there will be 8,500 homes on the property.”
As of this writing, there’s just a temporary golf shop, a practice range, a solid, straightforward Tommy (not Tom) Fazio championship golf course, and a 6-hole short course. But the future plans include a 50,000 square foot fitness center and spa, with both indoor and outdoor pools, the latter nearly half-an-acre in size. Besides the standard array of weight machines and cardio equipment, there will be, for a real estate community anyway, innovative concepts like a juice bar, healthy cooking learning center, manicures, pedicures and massages.
Ten Har-Tru tennis courts will be built, with a viewing stand and exhibition court. But beyond the standard country club amenities, the developers are also embracing the “town center” concept. So within the as-yet-to-be-constructed village square there will be a grocery store, brew pub, boutique-style retail space with a coffee shop, hair salon, bank, and pizza place. There will even be a concert staging area for musical acts and festivals.
While Tradition is by no means a short jaunt to the beach, the location does afford easy access to both downtown Savannah (less than 30 minutes) and Charleston (about 90 minutes to the north.) Closer still is the Sergeant Jasper State Park and Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, both just minutes away.
Both the state park and the refuge are unpopulated, and will remain so in perpetuity. Tradition is equally bereft of mankind at the moment. But a couple of years down the road? It will be a whole different story.