By Tony Kukulich
Plans to restore and revitalize the Cat Island golf course are under way with the recent purchase of the property by Virginia-based Resort Development Partners (RDP).
The Cat Island Golf Club opened in the summer of 1985, but has struggled in recent years. Ownership of the property has changed hands several times, and the course, which has fallen into a state of disrepair, has been closed since 2019. It will be the focus of RDP’s revitalization efforts.
“As lifelong golfers who recently purchased a home on the Cat Island golf course, we are extremely excited to watch the transformation over the next few months and look forward to joining the club and connecting with our neighbors and the club’s new members,” Cat Island resident Larry Noah said.
RDP’s purchase of the Cat Island property closed earlier this month. The purchase price was not disclosed.
Now known as the Cat Island Club, the property is the sixth club in RDP’s portfolio and the only property owned in South Carolina. Other locations include Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“There’s a void for a private (golf) club in the City of Beaufort,” General Manager Tim Mervosh said. “The other main attraction is the property itself. It’s a gorgeous piece of land. It’s got tremendous potential. The homes that are around Cat Island are fantastic. The people have been so great. We can build the golf course and we’ve already got a built-in client base of members. It just makes sense to do that. The property is spectacular.”
The club’s course was originally designed by George W. Cobb. Cobb was well-known in the golf community for his course designs. Among his achievements is the nine-hole, par-3 course he designed for Augusta National. Restoration of the Cat Island golf course will be overseen by John LaFoy. For LaFoy, whose career has also been notable in its own right, the new assignment is a chance to revisit work he did for Cobb 40 years ago.
“George Cobb is one of the leaders in golf course architecture in the modern era,” Mervosh said. “This is the last course that George Cobb did. As he was starting Cat Island, he brought on John LaFoy. John has since gone on and done tremendous work, including work at Augusta National. He has got a distinguished resume of golf course architecture and renovation.”
When LaFoy returned to Cat Island several weeks ago, he carried the original pencil drawings of the course that he did for Cobb in 1982.
“We’re going to restore the course back to that level with the greens and bunkers and such,” Mervosh said.
According to Mervosh, the budget for the renovation is about $1 million. The course could be open for use as early as this fall.
Early next year, renovations of the clubhouse will begin. When that effort is complete, the private clubhouse will feature a full-service restaurant and bar with an outdoor patio.
“Right now, the clubhouse is not really quite to the brand that we’re looking for with Resort Development Partners,” said Mervosh. “By this time next year we should be a full steam ahead with any of the amenities that you would find at any private club.”
Membership in the private club can be had for an pre-opening initiation fee of $10,000 and monthly dues of $495. Mervosh said that the initiation fee will increase as the course gets closer to opening.
“There will be a cap of around 350 members when it’s all said and done,” Mervosh added. “We want to make sure that the golf experience is where members don’t feel like they’re crowded out of their own golf course. They can get tee times and have a good round of golf without feeling like they’re being herded like sheep, so to speak.”
Tony Kukulich is a recent transplant to the Lowcountry. A native of Wilmington, Del., he comes to The Island News from the San Francisco Bay Area where he spent seven years as a reporter and photographer for several publications. He can be reached at email@example.com.