Course Of Dreams Planned For The Well-heeled Golfer

$25,000 Buys Members A Piece Of The Club

March 31, 1991|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff writer

Joseph M. Dunn made plans last spring to build his home on a $220,000 parcel on a hill next to a stream in the rolling wooded hills of the Patuxent Valley.

But that wasn't enough.

For an extra $25,000, plus about $220 a month, Dunn bought a piece of the neighboring sand traps and water hazards to make his dream complete.

Dunn, vice president of Mid-Atlantic Steel Contractors Inc. of Ellicott City, is one of more than 150 people who have joined the Cattail Creek Country Club, a 320-acre site straddling Route 97 north of Roxbury Road.

It will be the county's first member-owned golf course.

The club hopes to begin construction in July and plans to open the course in the fall of 1992, said Jeff Bowers, the club's general manager.

Bowers said he receives several calls a day asking about the club, some from people who have simply seen the club's sign on a rolling stretch of Route 97 next to an old barn.

"It's a really outstanding response, especially when you consider the economic times," Bowers said.

One of the attractions, he said, was that "early members would be able to turn this into a business opportunity."

The membership entitles the club's first 200 members to be repaid the entire membership fee -- consisting of a $17,500 bond, plus an initiation fee of $7,500 for families and $5,000 for individual memberships -- if they ever resign their membership. Founding members may instead choose to receive an amount equal to 80 percent of the going membership rate at the time they resign.

"Considering the area, that (fee) sounds reasonable for a totally private club," said Peter Kaczmarek, administrator of the U.S. Golf Association's Membership Records and Research division. At some of the nation's member-owned clubs, "$75,000 is not an unheard-of figure" for a membership.

Jack Stamerro, the club's vice president and a member of its board of directors, predicts that Cattail will be the county's only member-owned course. "It's going to be a landmark in the county," he said.

Tired of waiting for hours to play at the Columbia Association's crowded Hobbit's Glen Golf Course and being cut out of play by large group outings at Turf Valley Country Club, a group of the county's more enterprising -- and wealthy -- golfers decided three years ago to build theirown course.

"We just decided one day that it's a shame Howard County doesn't have its own member-owned course," Stamerro said.

Stamerro was joined by prominent county business leaders, developers, lawyers and two circuit court judges who became the club's 46 founding members. Each invested $25,000 to get the project started.

The $7 million project will feature an 18-hole championship-level golf coursedesigned by golf course architect Willard Byrd of Atlanta. Byrd alsodesigned the pro-circuit Atlanta Country Club and the Country Club of North Carolina.

Columbia developer Donald Reuwer, of American Properties in Columbia, signed the land over to the club in exchange for rights to sell country club home sites there, Stamerro said.

Between the holes will be 40 home lots, 3 to 5 acres each, for golf lovers who don't mind an occasional stray ball landing in the yard.

For county golfers who can afford it, the course is an answered prayer.

Ronald J. Lanyi, who runs an Ellicott City engineering consultingfirm, bought an individual membership to escape the crowds in Columbia. Lanyi now plays at Hobbit's Glen, which is "very, very enjoyable to play, but it's becoming extremely crowded," he said. The problem was aggravated, Lanyi said, when the Allview Golf Course closed in 1985 to make way for a town house and apartment development. Allview wasthe county's only public golf course.

Lanyi became interested in Cattail Creek after Circuit Judge James Dudley, a founding member of the club, began spreading the word among Hobbit's golfers. Dudley's involvement was one of the selling points, Lanyi said.

"He's a very, very avid golfer, and I'm sure that his inputs will make the coursea very high quality course," he said.

Although Cattail Creek might be less crowded, with its membership limited to 350 and play restricted to 2,500 rounds a year, its price excludes all but the more affluent golfers from joining.

By contrast, the county's private golf course, Turf Valley, charges $8,000 for full family membership and monthly dues of $205. Membership cannot be sold if a member decides to start playing at another course.

Of the 40 home lots that went on the market last May, eight have been sold so far. Sales were slowed by the county's cap on residential building permits, which was lifted Jan. 24, said Tim Feaga, a marketing director with American Properties, which is developing and selling the lots.

The cap was enacted in September 1989 to control residential growth.

Now there are no impediments to obtaining building permits for houses, said Marsha McLaughlin, chief of the county Planning and Zoning Department's Community Planning and Land Development Division.

But the club still needscounty approval for golf course plans, she said. At the moment, the club is seeking a waiver of county regulations that prohibit development within 75 feet of a stream.

CP: Construction is expected to begin in July on Cattail Creek Country Club, which include the county'sonly member-owned golf course. Also in the plans are 40 luxury homesites.

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