Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort has enjoyed a storied, 50-year history and numerous current employees have been around for a majority of that special time.
On the golf side, Director of Instruction Doug Weaver has been involved at Palmetto Dunes off and on for the better part of four decades. Director of Golf Clark Sinclair has been at Palmetto Dunes for 34 years, while Samm Wolfe — the Head Golf Professional and General Manager at the Arthur Hills Course, as well as the Membership Director for all three courses — had been at Palmetto Dunes for 32 years.
Before they arrived at Palmetto Dunes, all three had interesting back-stories.
Doug Weaver spent his high school years on Hilton Head and went on to play golf at Furman University with future PGA Tour standout Brad Faxon. After college, Doug started working at Palmetto Dunes, where he began regaining confidence that he could make a living on the PGA Tour.
In 1989, as a PGA Tour rookie, Doug made history at the U.S. Open at Oak Hill Country Club where he was the first of four players to make a hole-in-one on the sixth hole during Thursday’s first round.
“The hole was playing 159 yards, maybe a half-club downhill,” Doug recalls. “(All four players) hit 7 (irons). You’re in the U.S. Open, it’s tough, you’re emotions are going up and down; you’re trying to keep them level.
“I knew it was a good shot,” he said. “I knew it was where I wanted it to go, but to watch it trickle into the hole was a blast. You’re looking down on the hole, so it was easy to see. Then it happened again 30 minutes later, then again 30 minutes later… the crowd just exploded.
“Phil Berman from ESPN grabbed us all and made a great show of it.”
All four balls hit on that historic day are now part of an exhibit at the USGA Golf Museum in Far Hills, N.J., while the clubs adorn the Oak Hill clubhouse.
Doug enjoyed one exempt season on the PGA Tour and played in events during seven years, including five Heritage Tournaments on Hilton Head. He is one of 13 members of the Lowcountry Golf Hall of Fame and has been voted South Carolina’s No. 2 Best Instructor by Golf Digest magazine.
“I’ve pretty much been here 40 years,” Doug says. “Palmetto Dunes has been a wonderful place, the coaches we have had here are incredible. We like to make people players.”
Clark Sinclair has been at Palmetto Dunes since 1983. He started working in the cart barn back when there were just two courses at the resort.
Standing 6’8,” Clark is one of the tallest PGA professionals. He attended Presbyterian College, where he played basketball. Following military training, Clark then went overseas to try his hand at professional basketball. “It was a great experience,” he recalls. “So much fun.”
Clark, who loves water sports, says he found the perfect home at Palmetto Dunes.
“Palmetto Dunes and Hilton Head are places you want to be all the time,” Clark said. “When you’re not working, you’re on vacation.”
Clark said one of his favorite parts about being at Palmetto Dunes for more than three decades has been all the different people he was gotten to know.
“People come back year after year,” he said. “Families that I remember teaching their kids, now they’re grown up and married with kids of their own. There’s something prideful about it, but you also think, ‘Where is the time going?’”
Samm Wolfe has been at Palmetto Dunes since he started as a cart attendant 32 years ago. Before arriving on Hilton Head Island, the Kings Mountain, N.C. native played golf at Erskine College.
Following graduation, Samm took a job as a Youth Corrections officer for the State of North Carolina for a year.
“I was locking up 12 to 17 year olds,” he recalls. “It was a pretty tough job. There’s not a lot of fun in that job at all.”
Between shifts, Samm played golf. He fired a 66 one day during a round with a Pepsi sales representative, who was so impressed he called some of his connections at Palmetto Dunes and recommended Samm for a job.
Now, 32 years later, Samm and his longtime colleagues have become a major part of the Palmetto Dunes history.
“This place is just like home,” Samm said. “The (Self) family that owns it has always been very kind and fair to us. They are very much into keeping Palmetto Dunes a family type resort. It’s a fun place to work. I’ve enjoyed being here… I’ve had a great time.”