It was my privilege to found Ocean Forest Golf Club in 1995 and to see it be recognized as one of the finest clubs in the country. That level of recognition came early on, with our being selected to host the Walker Cup in 2001, the youngest club ever to be chosen so soon after opening. Please take a look at Our Story, for a glimpse of how we started and where we are today.
– Bill Jones III, Founder
For centuries, long before the game of golf came along, the land known today as Ocean Forest lay waiting on the northern tip of Sea Island. Over time, the flags of Spain, France, Great Britain, the Confederacy, and the United States flew over Georgia’s Golden Isles, with little impact on the island itself. Pirate ships, Spanish galleons, the U.S.S. Constitution, German U-boats, and World War II Liberty Ships plied the waters offshore.
Sea Island Company had owned the land since the 1920’s. While the long-term plan included a golf course and residential community, over the decades little occurred there aside from guests of The Cloister and Sea Island residents enjoying picnics overlooking the sea. By 1993, Bill Jones III had determined the time was right to move ahead and invited Rees Jones, who had redesigned the Plantation Course at Sea Island Golf Club, to design “the finest golf course routing possible.”
Jones III said, “I wrote letters to friends I thought might have an interest and would be good members of a club like Ocean Forest and invited them to join. I think our goal was 300 members, and we made a commitment that when we had commitments…from half that number, from 150, we would start construction.” Jones continued, “I sent those letters out in August of 1993. Three weeks later, we had gotten our 150 and that was just the end of September.” Work began on the course.
“…What Ocean Forest was going to be had to be felt by standing on the ground,” said Rees Jones. What he felt was the product of millions of years, as the movements of land and sea yielded ridges, dunes, trees, and underbrush, with undulations created as the dunes shifted and the river and marsh came to be. The result was a linksland course so fine that, soon after opening in 1995, Ocean Forest was named to host the Walker Cup in 2001, the youngest club to be honored so soon after opening.
When President and Mrs. Bush honeymooned at The Cloister in 1945, they did not anticipate celebrating their 50th anniversary on Sea Island as well. Or that during their visit in the spring of 1995, they would arrive when the Ocean Forest golf course was almost ready for play. President Bush, Bill Jones III, former U.S. attorney general Griffin Bell, Davis Love III, and Rees Jones played the first round, followed by Barbara Bush, Louise Suggs, and Davis’ mother, Penta.
It was fitting that President Bush returned to Ocean Forest to be part of opening ceremonies of the 2001 Walker Cup. His grandfather, George Herbert Walker, was USGA President in 1920 and gave the trophy for the first match in 1922, dubbed the Walker Cup. With remarks from him and other dignitaries, jet fighters roaring overhead, and the national anthems of the United States, Great Britain and Ireland, the teams of Georgia native Danny Yates (U.S.) and Peter McEvoy (GB&I) prepared to play.
After two days of match play, with four matches of foursomes in the morning and eight singles matches in the afternoon, the competition ended Sunday on the 17th hole with the score of Great Britain and Ireland – 15, the United States – 9. While the Cup stayed in GB&I hands, Ocean Forest received high praise during closing ceremonies from U.S.G.A. President Trey Holland, who said that the Walker Cup “surpassed anything that could have been imagined.”
Born of the A.W. Jones family’s deep commitment to amateur golf, the Jones Cup began in 2001 as an opportunity to celebrate not only the game of golf, but also the camaraderie associated with it. This three-day, 54-hole individual stroke-play event at Ocean Forest brings together many of the finest amateurs from the U.S. and abroad. Its strength has come from the strength of its field, such as Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, and others.
Because of the global success of the Jones Cup Invitational and its recognition as a premier world amateur golf event, the Jones Cup Junior Invitational and Jones Cup Senior Invitational were created in 2009 and 2011 respectively and are contested at Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course each year.
The Georgia Amateur Championship began in 1916, when 14-year-old Bobby Jones captured the inaugural title. The 72-hole, stroke-play championship is open to male amateur golfers who are GSGA members and are residents of Georgia. Ocean Forest played host in 1998, with Bill Roberts of Columbus taking home the trophy.
As a guest of an Ocean Forest member, you will be expected to adhere to certain club policies while you visit. Please review the policies with your host and let us know if you have any questions. We look forward to having you with us.