By Mike Grizzard
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, February 16, 2008
SNOW HILL — Buzz Shackleford stepped on the tee box at the third hole at Cutter Creek Golf Club earlier this week, took a swing and watched his ball sail over a pond and into a gravel-filled pit — exactly where he wanted.
By this fall, that landing spot will be plush, green grass, as will the rest of the some 220 acres taking shape into what Shackleford vows will be "eastern North Carolina’s premiere golf course."
The anticipated opening date is Oct. 1.
“We are well on the way to opening this golf course October 1,” Shackleford said in an interview in the Cutter Creek sales office. “We’re moving — fast.”
With little rain to interrupt work, the Cutter Creek project has avoided the rough since launching home site sales a little more than a year ago and, in September, began carving out a golf course. More than 200 lots have been claimed — 99 under contract and 107 closed — and home construction is set to begin within a month. The 634-acre community near Snow Hill and Hookerton is designed for as many as 700 home sites.
“The pace of this project has been tremendous from day one,” said David Taylor, managing partner for Charlotte-based Pinnacle Golf Properties, the management group for the course. “... It’s all moving at one time. That’s a huge positive for everyone involved.”
Mill Run Development Group is the engine driving the formation of Cutter Creek. Shackleford is the project’s managing director and is joined by Bill Clark of Bill Clark Homes; Cam McRae, a restaurateur and developer; utility contractors Kelly Barnhill Sr. and Kelly Barnhill Jr.; and real estate developers Tommie Little and Chip Little. Shackleford said Pinnacle was hired because no one in the development group had experience operating a golf course. Pinnacle’s portfolio is comprised of seven courses in the Carolinas.
“You need to figure out what you’re not good at and don’t do it,” Shackleford said. “That’s why we hired Pinnacle, because they are good at it.”
A founders club that will enable Cutter Creek to open debt-free is unique in the industry, Taylor said. The club has 107 paid founding members, who each get a home site for their investment. The club will launch a membership campaign soon but will operate as semi-private offering daily fee play.
“They can be a member of the club for a day, and that’s how they’re treated,” Taylor said.
Planned amenities include a swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness center, hiking trails, dining facility, bar and grill and catering kitchen. Shackleford said on-site dining would be privately-owned.
“We’re not planning to be in the fine-dining business,” he said. “We’re planning to be in the golf business.”
Shackleford likes the picture that Moore designed and ShapeMasters is orchestrating. A flat landscape has been transformed into rolling hills with the 18-hole course clearly staked off with tee boxes, green areas and bulkheads for water hazards.
More than two miles of cart paths have been paved, and some 1,500 pine trees have been planted.
Still to come is a large lake that will separate holes No. 9 and No. 18, each of which will be visible from tee to green from the back of the clubhouse.
The golf course and clubhouse alone will cost about $10 million. A house will be built to serve as a temporary clubhouse until the permanent one is constructed, Shackleford said.
“The clubhouse is one of those things that I don’t want to be rushed to do it,” he said. “... We’re only going to get one chance to build it, and it needs to fit the things that are going to be around it.”
Shackleford said the goal is to keep the course in prime condition, so all money generated by the golf course will go into its upkeep.
Mike Grizzard can be contacted at email@example.com and 329-9580.