Clyde Johnston, ASGCA of Clyde Johnston Designs, Inc., rebuilt The Legends at Parris Island Golf Course, a public course located within the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot‘s military base in Parris Island, South Carolina, improving the course’s conditions and updating its features while expertly addressing environmental and historically significant conditions surrounding the site.
The 18-hole, par 72 course was originally designed by Fred Findley in 1947 and boasts a rich history. Bordered by salt marsh wetlands and encompassing freshwater wetlands, the land was used by American Indians for campsites and hunting. Then in 1566, the Spanish city of Santa Elena was established on the site. Parts of the original golf course were located within the city’s archaeology site, and so when planning for the new course commenced, archaeological study efforts were expanded to determine the total extent of the historical site and its resources.
Environmental consultants were brought in to provide consultation regarding protection and enhancement of the land’s valuable resources. After thoroughly evaluating all of the site’s sensitive archaeological and environmental features, architect Clyde Johnston adopted a policy of avoidance: he minimized negative archaeological and environmental impacts, provided a continuous flow to the course, and utilized as many existing golf corridors as possible.
Johnston’s utilization of pre-cleared areas provided minimal impact to the surrounding wooded environment. He also relocated three of the course’s original holes from areas within the Saint Elena historical area to sections found devoid of artifacts. Throughout construction, the builder paid diligent attention to implementing and maintaining erosion control, archaeological area protection, and preservation of natural buffers.
The architect made drastic drainage improvements to the site as well. Prior to the site’s renovation, small rain events would flood the course, due to its low-lying nature and proximity to tidal wetlands. To counter this, 11 small lakes were constructed throughout the course, providing fill to achieve positive drainage and detention basins to slow storm water discharge from the site. The sophisticated storm water conveyance system also controls and recycles all fertilizer and chemical applications.
In review of the project, Johnston’s measures to preserve and protect The Legends’ environmental and archaeological assets were successful. The new ponds that were built have provided additional wildlife and fish habitats, as well as storm water management, and the historical portions of the site are respected and safeguarded parts of the land.
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