When The Landings Club was being developed in the early 1970s on Skidaway Island, Georgia, the original plan called for a private community of upper-scale homes situated amongst 27 holes of Arnold Palmer-designed golf in the pristine maritime forest 12 miles from Savannah.
After the developer started acquiring additional land, The Landings quickly expanded to 36 holes of Palmer- designed golf by 1979, and now offers 108 holes at six championship courses designed by some of the industry’s top course designers. For decades, The Landings was considered the consummate private golf club community.
Today, The Landings still holds the distinction of being one of the largest master-planned single golf-course developments in America, but it’s certainly grown to be much more than simply golf. Indeed, fueled by the club’s ambitious $26 million multi-phase capital improvements plan started in 2017, The Landings is a mere shadow of its former self some 40 years ago.
In many respects, as the member-owned club wraps up the final stages of reimagining the flagship Marshwood clubhouse and introducing more family-friendly aquatic complexes and distinctive new dining venues, this community of 4,400 households is now the quintessential private club of the future.
Leave it up to a person like Landings Executive Director Steven Freund, who came from a non-traditional hotel and resort background, to lead this transformation encompassing destination dining, top-notch aquatic and wellness facilities, and a host of other family and lifestyle-centric hospitality one would expect at world-class resorts.
For instance, one of the popular new attractions for members and guests is the newly designed family-friendly Franklin Creek campus that debuted at the end of 2018 with the addition of the club’s first fast-casual dining venue, The Deck, and various aquatic amenities designed for members of all ages. It was a vast upgrade from the previous venue featuring a non-descript poolside snack bar and nearby café for tennis members.
When it was initially proposed, members rejected the concept of one dining outlet serving all community constituents. After further design consultations with the board and a second attempt at selling the members on the vision of something more in tune with food-and-beverage trends at many clubs today, not to mention society as a whole, The Landings membership bought into the new plan.
According to Freund, the club is reaping huge dividends at the come-as-you-are Franklin Creek campus with revenues likely doubling the original $1.5 million forecast. To hear Freund describe it, that’s a lot of breakfast muffins, burgers and pizzas. Meanwhile, the club’s new Marshwood clubhouse will also be designed for multi-generational use, but plans call for a more sophisticated resort-style setting in both the dining and aquatic facilities.
What’s important to Freund about all of these thoughtfully designed clubhouses and amenities is creating them in such a manner that they ultimately attract the segment of members the club wants to bring to each venue. Meanwhile, by being mindful of the changing attitudes of the more youthful and active modern-day member, yet sensitive to the community’s legacy members typically retired from northern states, the Landings Club is poised for future sustainability and relevance. So, what exactly are the ingredients that compose the consummate modern-day club?
Freund will tell you it’s a club first and foremost focused on being family-friendly and multi-generational in its culture, operations and design intelligence. It’s also a club delivering distinctive or ‘branded’ dining experiences worthy of patronage rather than one that members just feel obligated to support. Lastly, it needs to be an inviting place with an edge of timelessness without being overly formal. In the end, it’s a place that’s welcoming and warm to all members of the family and all generations – both current and future. More simply put, it’s a place some 6,400 family members now call home: The Landings Club.