Golf course architect George Cobb had a remarkable career. Among his contributions to golf is the 9-hole par 3 course at Augusta National, which is seen by millions each year on the Wednesday before the Masters. The Cat Island Club in South Carolina was his final design as he “passed the baton” to his understudy, John LaFoy. LaFoy himself has built a remarkable career with such notable courses as The Cardinal and Pines Golf Course in Diamondhead, MS, Pine Tree Country Club in Birmingham, AL, and West Lake Country Club in Augusta, GA. LaFoy was tasked with finishing this final George Cobb design and did a masterful job. When the course debuted in the summer of 1985, it was enjoyed by both locals and out-of-state residents and became one of the most desirable clubs in the area for years.
However, after several years of neglect and poor management, the property was in disrepair and was subsequently purchased by Resort Development Partners (RDP) on June 1st, 2022. RDP owns and operates several clubs around the country and has developed a sterling reputation within the golf industry. The company immediately called on LaFoy to help them return the golf course to its former glory. LaFoy and the staff at Cat Island Club have worked tirelessly to see that every mound, undulation, and contour has been restored to what both Cobb and LaFoy meant it to be.
Several members I spoke with have already seen big changes in the way the course is run. For starters, RDP hired Tim Mervosh, a golf industry professional with over 35 years of experience in the golf industry. One of the first things Mervosh did was open up lines of communication between himself, RDP, and the membership base. This was something that was lacking in previous ownership. Keeping members informed helped to manage expectations that arose from supply chain issues and eliminated any doubt that RDP was “in it for the long haul!”
LaFoy has done a wonderful job of blending Cat Island Club into its natural surroundings. Water comes into play on at least 12 holes and makes for a couple of Kodak moments from the 16th and 17th tees. The Port Royal Sound comes into play on six of these.
As I stood on the first tee at Cat Island Club in Beaufort, SC, one of the members offered me some words of advice, “Favor the right side of the fairway.” I took his advice and hit it down the right side and, when I drove up to the ball, I could see why. There’s a pond on the left side that is reachable from the tee. If you do hit it left off the tee, you might get lucky and find a bunker! The water comes into play on approach shots to center or left pin placements. Looking back, I should have kept him around for the rest of the round!
LaFoy and Cat Island Club prove that a hole doesn’t have to be long to be challenging. The 3rd hole is a 341-yard par 4 that doglegs to the right. Your tee shot plays over water which forms the right side of the fairway up to the dogleg. Once you get to the corner, trees line either side of the fairway and there’s another water hazard to cross. The green is flanked by bunkers on either side. Consider something less than a driver off the tee and leave yourself a manageable shot into the green. See for yourself why this hole is handicapped #1!
Another interesting feature at Cat Island Club is the back-to-back par 3s on Numbers 4 and 5. Number 4 plays 150 yards and is all carry over water into an angular green with a large bunker between the water and the green. At 142 yards, Number 5 is slightly shorter with the marshland from the previous hole on the right which is not good news for most golfers! Two large bunkers guard the left side of this elevated green which slopes back to front.
Number 8 is the only par 5 on the front side and is handicapped as the 13th toughest hole on the golf course. That means it’s a great opportunity to pick up a shot or two. From the Blue Tees, it plays 478 yards with a slight dogleg right. You won’t find any water hazards on this hole, and you may not find your golf ball in the long Bermuda rough if you miss the fairway! A good drive will leave an opportunity to go for the green which is elevated and protected with sand in the front right.
The views for Numbers 16 and 17 steal the show. As you stand on the tee box of the 118-yard par 3, 16th hole, you can’t help but be impressed by what you see behind the putting surface. Sixteen showcases South Carolina’s Lowcountry at its best with a boat dock beyond the green and countless miles of marshland behind that. The par 4, 17th hole is a dogleg left that plays 341 yards and starts with a tee shot from a manmade tee box in the middle of the marshland. Playing your tee shot over the marsh and down the left side of the fairway will leave a good angle into the green which is long and narrow.
Cat Island Club takes the game seriously as can be seen by their members-only practice area, complete with a full-length driving range, short game area, and putting green. Their highly qualified staff of golf professionals can help with every aspect of your game including private and group lessons, clinics, club fitting, and repair. The pro shop includes all kinds of equipment, accessories, and logoed apparel from top manufacturers including FootJoy, Swannies, and Titleist. Their member pricing on golf balls, gloves, and other golf necessities is competitive with local golf outlets.
If you’re looking for a club where status is measured by how much you’re worth, how big your house is, or the car you drive, then Cat Island Club probably isn’t a good match. Membership here leans towards God, country, and family. Patriotism is also on high display here and with Parris Island nearby it’s no wonder! There are many Military veterans in the area and Cat Island Club is no exception. They’re easy to spot; they’re the ones standing at attention and saluting whenever Revelle plays at nearby Parris Island. When the course officially reopened, the Marine Honor Guard raised the flag and there was a flyover of F35 fighter planes; talk about impressive! LaFoy himself served in the Marine Corps.
Cat Island Club strives to provide its members with an exceptional lifestyle and a family-friendly environment. There is something to do for every member of the family including both social and athletic activities for all ages.
On my recent visit to the club, I was overwhelmed by how much use the swimming pool complex received. It includes a lagoon-style pool, a kiddie pool, an adult-only pool, and a jacuzzi. In case hunger or thirst overtakes you, there’s a full-service bar and poolside grill with a casual menu. It’s not unusual to find entire families here for the day.
The clubhouse is the main gathering place for members. It has a warm and comfortable atmosphere and features a private wine room, a full-service liquor bar, and a unique Grab ‘n Go area where members can pick up snacks and drinks at the turn. The Oak Patio is destined to become a center of activity at the club for anyone seeking outdoor dining. It offers views of two lagoons and the 18th green and is a special place to watch the sun slip down beneath the Lowcountry marshland.
Cat Island Club is currently accepting new members. There are several membership classifications with low initiation fees and very reasonable monthly dues. It’s the best and most economical way to be a part of Cat Island Club and take advantage of everything they have to offer. For more information, call General Manager Tim Mervosh at (843) 524-2000 ext. 103 or visit them on the web at www.catislandclub.com.