Beach Nourishment: Re-establishing a lost golf hole

People want to live and vacation near natural amenities. One of the most desirable amenities is being in close proximity to ocean beaches whether it is owning property or vacationing at a resort. The migration of people to beaches attracts new businesses and tourism dollars to the local community and State.

In the United States thirty of the fifty States are coastal states. One of the states South Carolina has 187 miles of coastal shoreline that attracts 28 million visitors a year that supports a 14 billion dollar tourism industry (2).

Unfortunately, the South Carolina shoreline is falling victim to beach erosion (80 percent of the shorelines in the United States are disappearing due to beach erosion) (1). The possible causes of beach erosion include natural disasters like hurricanes, and major storms like northeasters, coastal development, and rising sea levels.

In response to beach erosion hard erosion control devises like sea walls, revetments, groins or jetties are constructed to dissipate or block wave energy or with groins trap sand to widen a beach. Properly constructed these hard devises are effective but the disadvantages include their effects are irreversible, costly, and often result in degradation of beaches both physically and aesthetically.

An alternative method of beach restoration is beach nourishment. Beach nourishment is a controversial solution because it is a very expensive and temporary solution to erosion. Beach nourishment is the process where new sand, from an outside source normally the ocean is placed on a dry sand beach. It is the most common “soft” procedure for replacing sand. Beach nourishment is a temporary process because the causes that created the erosion problem remain and continue to remove the nourishment sand. Depending on the size of the project it may last for five to ten years (1).

An example of beach nourishment that involved the re-establishment of a golf course occurred on the Isle of the Palms, South Carolina where Wild Dunes Resort is located. In the late 1990’s the beach along Wild Dunes began to erode and the erosion process accelerated to the point where thousands of sandbags where protecting personal property and structures. The Par 5 18th hole at Wild Dunes (the links course) that ran along the beach had fallen into the ocean and had become a Par-3.

After 19 months of planning, permitting and funding, the beach nourishment project for Isle of the Palms and Wild Dunes began in May 2008 to reclaim approximately 2 miles of shoreline at a cost of 9 million dollars. Over 900,000 cubic yards, which is the equivalent to filling a large football stadium five times to the brim, was used. The project was completed by July 2, 2008 working 24 hours a day seven days a week, which was necessary to complete prior to the breeding activity of the sea turtle. After sand nourishment planning, and construction of the Par 5 18th hole was done and opened for play in June, 2009.

The pictures shown in this article where taken in August of 2011. The pictures are of the Isle of Palm restored beach area, 18th hole at the Links Course and installed fencing. The videos show the progress and process of sand nourishment at Wild Dunes.

The project by all accounts was a success. Given the temporary nature of sand nourishment, it will be interesting to see how long it lasts.

Literature Cited:

1. Free, K. South Carolina reponds to beach erosion: Is beach nourishment the last line of defense against an armored coastline?

2. South Carolina Dept of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (


Video 1

Video 2


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