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What sport is played on a court, requires a racquet, and is set to become Palmetto Bluff’s most popular pastime? If you guessed tennis, think again. The correct answer is pickleball—a game best described as a hybrid of ping-pong and tennis that’s set to take over not only the community of Palmetto Bluff, but the nation at large.

“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport nationwide and we’re certainly seeing that reflected at Palmetto Bluff. We’ve got two courts currently with plans to build six new dedicated courts,” said Palmetto Bluff resident Jim Curtiss, who organizes regular pickleball games for members on Tuesdays and Saturdays. “It’s a major commitment by management and a reflection of how popular pickleball has become at Palmetto Bluff.”

For the uninitiated, let’s begin with a crash course in the sport. Pickleball is played on a hard court with a graphite racquet and a perforated ball (similar to a Wiffle ball). The game’s smaller racquet and badminton-size court equate to less powerful hits, which makes pickleball easier on wrists and elbows than tennis. As an added bonus for the extroverts among us, it’s also known as a very social game…and one that keeps players coming back for more.

Pickleball players on a court in Palmetto Bluff

photos courtesy of Jim Curtiss

“It’s an addictive sport. People who started as beginners six months ago are playing really well now,” Jim shared. “It’s amazing to see how quickly people advance who come and pick it up for the first time. It’s a pretty approachable game compared to tennis.”

Considering the fact that he played his first pickleball match in February of 2016, it’s a trajectory Jim is familiar with. While today he’s an avid member of Palmetto Bluff’s quickly-growing pickleball community, at the time of his initial move to the area, the sport wasn’t even on his radar.

“My wife and I were looking for a place in the Lowcountry that had a combination of equestrian activities and golf. At the time pickleball wasn’t even on the scene,” said Jim. “I played on indoor courts for several months until we moved [to Palmetto Bluff] and got hooked on it, and then I started asking management about it. We had about a dozen people who met with management in May of 2018 and encouraged them to build dedicated pickleball courts. We originally suggested four courts, but after they saw the level of interest they decided to build six.”

The new courts are set to open by Labor Day 2019, an occasion that will be marked with a ribbon cutting and an appearance by two professional pickleball players from Palmetto Dunes. In addition to opening up more opportunities to drop in for a one-off game, Jim anticipates an increase in tournament and inter-plantation play in the near future.

“Our first Round Robin (held in May 2019) with ten teams took us two or three months to complete due to only having two courts,” he shared. “When we get our six courts up, we’ll be able to complete a Round Robin with twelve teams over the course of a two or three day weekend.”

Interested in the sport but not quite ready to play a competitive match? Equipment and lessons are both available through the Wilson Lawn and Racquet Club, ensuring that you’ll be Round Robin ready by the time the new courts open this fall. We’ll see you out there!

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

  • Pickleball matches at Palmetto Bluff are primarily played in doubles groups. Mixed doubles, men’s teams, and women’s teams are available.
  • Most active players are Palmetto Bluff members, although Montage guests can also play.
  • Players range from young children to residents between 65-70 years of age. All skill levels are welcome!

To book a lesson or request more information about playing pickleball at Palmetto Bluff, contact the Wilson Lawn and Racquet Club.

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