Country club began with a simple notion

Partners: Cattail Creek is the product of "a group of guys who wanted to build a golf course."

July 29, 2001|By Kelly Gilbert | Kelly Gilbert,STAFF WRITER

"We were just a group of guys who wanted to build a golf course," Jack Stamarro, president of Cattail Creek Country Club, says of the time in the late 1980s when he and some friends, golfers all, decided to create what now is Howard County's only member-owned golf club.

At the time, the county had one single-owner venue, Turf Valley Country Club, and a Columbia Association-owned semiprivate course, Hobbit's Glen.

"We wanted to have a place to play golf where we could call the shots," says Stamarro, who is a lawyer.

Initially, the group formed a partnership called Howard County Country Club, hoping to attract seed money from 25 founders.

"The idea just took off and before we knew it, we had 46 original partners," he says.

The partnership invited several noted golf course architects - Dan Maples, Rees Jones, Arthur Hills and Willard Byrd - to evaluate potential sites. Byrd, who has designed more than 100 courses, was chosen for the project.

"A good number of us had been to Heather Glen, and we were really impressed with it," Stamarro says of that Byrd course in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area. "And he seemed to work well with us. He was flexible on property and willing to educate us as we went along."

By 1990, the partnership had purchased 168 acres beside Route 97. Construction began in 1991, and the course opened in July 1993. By then, the club had 130 members and had changed its name to Cattail Creek Country Club, "because Howard County Country Club sounded a little stiff," Stamarro says.

Within three years of completion, Cattail attracted the Toyota Invitational, a Senior PGA Tour event that was played there for two years. The tournament was the forerunner of the State Farm Senior Classic, being played this year at Hayfields Country Club in Baltimore County.

Today, Cattail has tennis courts and a swimming pool, but golf remains the emphasis. The club has bought more land that Stamarro says will allow it to eventually build another nine holes.

And Cattail plays a role in the county's economic development structure, he says.

"I think it's critical to any county, especially in attracting employers, technology, things like that, to have a nice club," Stamarro says. "I wouldn't say a snooty club, but someplace where people feel comfortable entertaining customers. That was a real need here."

This year alone, he says, "six to eight chief executives, brought in by their companies, have been given Cattail memberships" for business purposes.

Stamarro estimates that 80 percent to 90 percent of the club's members live in Howard County, but it attracts golfers from Carroll and Montgomery as well. Membership is near the 400 limit, but some full and one-year trial memberships are available, he says.

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