Brian McCarthy had no intention of buying the Bloody Point golf course on Daufuskie Island when he entered a Charleston courtroom late last month.
By the time he left, he had won an auction for the course, which has languished for more than two years during the bankruptcy of the Daufuskie Island Resort & Breathe Spa.
"I was totally shocked walking out of there owning the place," McCarthy said this week.
A judge on Friday authorized the sale of Bloody Point from the bankruptcy estate to McCarthy. He bid $1.64 million for the course, as well as a pool, clubhouse, spa and tennis courts.
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McCarthy is a longtime Daufuskie property owner and president and CEO of the McCarthy Group of Florists, which he said is the largest "brick-and-mortar" florist in the county with 28 stores in 10 states. He also owns a taxi company and a firm that makes large machines to seal boxes, he said.
He bought 64 acres on the 5,000-acre island, which is not accessible by bridge, in 1987. He still owns about 45 acres and has fond memories of Daufuskie as a personal respite and family vacation spot, he said.
Both his sisters also have homes there, he said.
McCarthy plans to reopen the course, perhaps as a semi-private club that offers preferred tee times to members.
He already has brought a representative of Bloody Point's designer, Tom Weiskopf, to the island.
It could take some time, however, to rehabilitate the course because its greens are "burned out" and fairways are filled with weeds, he said.
To run the course, McCarthy said, he is interviewing someone with years of experience in the golf business on Daufuskie.
He said he also is talking with a chef about opening a restaurant.
He might seek permission to build a dock on the river that borders the course's finishing holes to speed access from Savannah.
Boats to Daufuskie previously have departed primarily from Hilton Head Island, but McCarthy thinks Savannah has been under-used as a gateway.
McCarthy, who lives in Alpharetta, Ga., and Las Vegas, planned to attend the hearing only to watch.
The hearing had been called to consider the sale of the course to George and Carmen Mullen of Hilton Head for $1.26 million, but another bidder, Richard Shutte of Bloody Point Investors, subsequently expressed interest in making an offer, according to court documents.
McCarthy said he was supposed to be in Denver on the day of the hearing but rearranged his schedule to attend. He decided to make a sudden move for the property to ensure it wound up in the hands of "somebody that's been totally entrenched on Daufuskie for as long as I've been," he said.
"I just trusted myself better (than other bidders) to be in control," he said.
The judge approved taking $50,000 from the proceeds to pay the Mullens for their expenses and their role in triggering the auction that yielded a higher price for the assets.
Bloody Point's property owners are excited McCarthy seems serious about reviving the course after two "difficult" years, association president Tony Simonelli said.
The association cut the grass twice in the past six months to keep the course presentable because the bankruptcy trustee had run out of money for such tasks, Simonelli said.
Property owners there also are excited McCarthy has experience with the island.
"He is a Daufuskie-oriented person, Simonelli said. "That's very important."