As an update for the week, look for improvements at the pool. We will be hanging the outdoor TV’s and getting the landscaping completed later this week and the best news that I can report is that we’re getting a great response to staffing. As many of you know, the hospitality business has been suffering from a lack of available staff and based on the responses and interviews that I have had with some food and beverage candidates, I’m pleased to say that I will have some hard choices to make due to a number of qualified staff. You will find that as we build our teams, I evaluate and consider culture and character just as much as knowledge and expertise. During this entire process, hiring our team is my absolute top priority. I will be introducing key staff to all of you on these weekly communications as days turn to weeks and our team grows. Our goals are to ensure that your experiences are exceptional, and Cat Island is where we treat members like guests and guests like members.
This past week has also been a time where we’ve be fine tuning our plans for the golf course. Our Golf Course Architect, John LaFoy was on site this week. When he walked in, he had plans rolled up under his arm that I soon learned, were the original plans for Cat Island golf course, dated 1982! It was like looking at history as he had the original pencil drawings that he worked on with Mr. Cobb to create this golf course through the spectacular setting that they found. While George Cobb did the original layout and design, it was John Lafoy who worked with Mr. Cobb to put the finishing touches on the golf course. My Lafoy has done more than 150 golf courses and renovation projects during his illustrious career. It certainly was a treat for me to listen when he spoke about creating such gems like, Linville Ridge, the East Course at the CC of Birmingham, and the Williamsburg Club in Virginia. But he got a special glisten in his eye when he spoke about working on Augusta National. In fact, he was listed in a recent Sports Illustrated article as one of the architects that have “tweaked” the National over the years. He also told some delightful stories of collaborating with Cliff Roberts at Augusta. If you know anything of Augusta National, you know what a challenge that must have been. I saw the same twinkle in his eye when he spoke about working alongside his best friend’s father, George Cobb on Cat Island. Mr. Lafoy is not unfamiliar with the Lowcountry. Before he started working as a Golf Course Architect, he was a young Marine stationed at the Air Station right here in Beaufort. Much has changed since 1971 for this gentleman who wore the uniform, but his Marine Corps heart is back in Beaufort, where he belongs!
So, fast forward 40 years, blow the dust off the original pencil drawings and the plan to RESTORE Cat Island to its former glory is well underway. Yes-when we say restore, do yourself a favor, if you are walking on the golf course, take special note of the red boundary lines, they mark the new green surfaces, the return of the original design of Mr. Cobb. Along with John LaFoy, our Resort Development Partners, Corporate Agronomist has been in town all week. His name is Steve Cohoon who currently lives in Virginia and has the responsibility of Agronomic oversight for all the RDP properties. Steve has 35+ years of experience as a Certified Golf Course Superintendent. He was also named one of the “Most Admired Operators” by Golf Inc. Magazine. Steve has worked on many renovation projects during his 30+ year career. When you stop by the clubhouse or see someone on the golf course over the next few weeks and months, chances are you’ll meet Steve Cohoon who is a delight to talk to and is as knowledgeable as they come when it comes to golf courses.
Marc Gooden is the principal owner of Double Eagle Golf LLC based in Hendersonville, NC. His group are the boots on the ground who will be responsible for the construction aspects of this project. Marc’s group works with Architects all around the country to build, rebuild, renovate shape and restore golf courses just like Cat Island Club. His resume of courses also reads like a Golf Digest ranking of top clubs in various parts of the country.
So that’s our team to restore Cat Island Golf club. If experience is a problem, we do not have a problem! All we have is expertise, passion, vision, and pride and with RDP, the horsepower to bring this entire vision to reality.
This team has been out on the golf course this week and marking areas for spraying, they have been lining up to bring in the equipment and ensuring all the permits are moving forward. Marc and his construction team are ready to mobilize as is the Irrigation company who will focus their efforts on the main heart of the golf course. They will be here within the next week to evaluate the system and begin the needed repairs and maintenance. The first steps that you will start to see is the spraying of the weeds and overgrowth. We expect that to happen within the next several days as we are waiting on equipment needs. As I’m sure you are aware, our world is a bit ‘out of balance’ these days and what was once routine, is not uncertain at best as it relates to deliveries, equipment, manpower and any number of necessary elements. However, our options for resources are wide and we will work the system hard to get our required tools to get started. But to that end, once you see the heavier equipment in place and water coming from the irrigation system, we are closer to opening that you may think-Bermuda grass grows very quickly in hot and humid conditions, and we have no shortage of that either. With all things being considered and if all the various elements fall into place, we are still expecting to open the golf course by late summer / early fall of this year. Keep your collective fingers crossed for favorable weather, on time deliveries and no “land mines” that may delay our process. But I assure you, we’ll do our best to stay on our schedule but will not rush or cut corners to achieve our goals. I will do my best to continue to communicate with everyone as we continue down this path together. Until then, we will see you all at the pool! Look for more information soon about specific pool plans.
Many of you have inquired about the opening of the clubhouse. RDP has retained the services of a clubhouse interior design firm to redraft the blue prints and prepare renovations for submission to Beaufort County. We expect this process will take us into the winter and hope to be able to announce and share new plans for the clubhouse in the months to come. Until then, we are renovating the pool area as an outdoor dining venue for our members to enjoy during the summer and winter months.
I hope you all have a great and safe weekend and as always, stop by the clubhouse to say hello and tell your friends and neighbor, the Cat is coming back!