A group of regulars strapped their golf bags to push carts and gathered as usual near the putting green at Sanctuary Golf Club on Monday morning.
The Beaufort County golf course in the Cat Island community on the southern end of Lady’s Island closed abruptly last week, baffling club members and regular players. Though the pro shop was closed and motorized carts remained parked in the shed, golfers willing to walk or with privately owned carts took advantage of the cloudless sky and mild weather.
“If you play a lot of golf in this area, this is probably one of the best golf courses around — in terms of the layout, and the water,” club member and Cat Island resident Doug Hendricks said before teeing off Monday.
Hendricks said there was little warning before owner Jeff Fischer closed the course. A sign on the door of the pro shop invited golfers to play at Lady’s Island Country Club, which Fischer also owns on the north end of the island.
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Golfers were also given the option to walk and play at Cat Island, paying for rounds on the honor system.
“Unfortunately things have not worked out as planned,” the note on the pro shop door said. “Due to these circumstances the golf course is temporarily closed.”
Fischer said Monday that Sanctuary Golf Club is for sale. While awaiting a deal, he’s consolidating operations with the Lady’s Island club, which he has owned for 20 years.
He cited a decline in play, competition from the golf club on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and poor weather as among the reasons Sanctuary closed. A Chinese investment group was interested in buying the course late last year and establishing a golf school, but the deal didn’t work out, Fischer said.
He has also offered the local property owners group the chance to buy the course, he said. The restaurant at the club closed last year but remains open for Wednesday dinners.
“If the neighborhood wants the buy the property or building, they should get in touch with me,” Fischer said.
In July when it was time to renew membership dues, rates went up and Fischer asked for six months or a full year of dues up front, said Pat Nestor, who has been a member 15 years. In the past, members had been able to pay on a quarterly or monthly basis, he said.
Hendricks said he has his Cat Island home listed for sale and is worried a shuttered golf course will affect his property values.
The 18-hole Sanctuary Golf Club has hosted numerous junior, state level and professional events in the past. The National Women’s Golf Association held its Tour Championship on Cat Island last year, according to the course website, and the Women’s S.C. Golf Association regularly holds its match play event on the course.
The club announced the acquisition of a new fleet of golf carts in November.