Fact vs Fiction

Seabrook Island Club: Fact vs. Fiction

**New information is in italics
**Updated as of February 6, 2024


This Fact vs. Fiction is intended to be the repository of facts about the Club.  The purpose of it is to dispel false information, rumors, and misunderstandings that may come up from time to time about Club activities. This document will be updated periodically with the most up-to-date information.  


Section 1 – Organization of the Club
Section 2 – Membership
Section 3 – Finance
Section 4 – Golf
Section 5 – Racquet Sports
Section 6 – Equestrian
Section 7 – House and Food and Beverage
Section 8 – Capital Projects
Section 9 – Conduct Committee
Section 10 – Amenity Cards
Section 11 – Long Range Planning
Section 12 – Litigation
Section 13 – Nominating Committee
Section 14 – Becoming a Director on the Board of Governors
Section 15 – Borrowing Funds
Section 16 – Capital Expenditures
Section 17 – Special Projects
Section 18 – Club Advisors

Section 1 – Organization of the Club

The Club was established in April 1991 as The Club at Seabrook Island, Inc.  Effective January 2006, the Club amended and updated its Articles of Incorporation, including changing it's name to Seabrook Island Club.  The Club is organized and continues to be a mutual benefit nonprofit organization under the laws of the State of South Carolina. The Club is NOT an Internal Revenue Code Section 501 (c)(7) not-for-profit organization. For Federal and State Income Tax purposes, the Club reports as a C-Corporation and files a consolidated tax return with its subsidiary, Seabrook Island Real Estate, Inc.

Section 2 – Membership

There are 2590 properties currently on Seabrook Island.  84% of these properties are Club Members.

How many Members are part of Seabrook Island Club?

o 2,285       10/31/23

How many Full, Social and Community Members are there?
o Full: 318
o Social: 493
o Community: 1218
o Other 246

Where can I find this number throughout the year?
o Attached to the monthly Membership Committee minutes on the Club website 

Membership Certificate holders’ range in age from 20-106.

There are 891 children who are Club Members.

How many Full-time residents live on the Island?
•In 2018 there were 626 memberships living full time on the island today that number is 895

What is the average age of a Club Member?
o In 2018 it was 65.1 years, today it is 62 and the average age of new members joining is 55 

Please note: 
- Non-property owners cannot purchase a Club membership
- Non-property owner cannot call in gate passes for their guests
- Members who sell their property have one year to purchase a new property on Seabrook Island, or they lose their membership

Section 3 - Finance

On average, what have we spent for new capital projects in the last several years?
o $8.4 million in 2020 (most of the New Horizon Plan) 
o $3.3 million in 2021 
o $2.7 million in 2022
o $4.5 million for 2023 YTD – estimate of $7.0 million for 2023

How many Members qualify to receive equity and assessment payments?  
o Total Equity repayment/amount remaining: 402/$4.8million
o Total Assessment repayment/amount remaining: 704/$1.9 million

How much is in our Reserve Funds? 
o $5.7 million ($1 million working capital + $1.2 million for debt service + $1 million for storms and emergencies + $2.5 million replacement/repair) – the latter two tie to the $3.0 million goal of prior boards (2016 – 2019 and it was reached in 2020)

What has the percentage increase of dues been in the last 5 years/year?
o 2019  -  3%
o 2020  -  5%
o 2021  -   0
o 2022  -  2%
o 2023  -  5%

Over these 5 years, dues have increased by 15%; over the same five-year period the rate of increase in inflation (CPI) has been 19.2%, with dues increasing 4.2% less than inflation.

Section 4 – Golf

Number of golf rounds per recent years and through 9/30/23:
o 2019 - 43,400
o 2020 - 59,900.  (Covid and one course closed)
o 2021 - 69,000
o 2022 - 64,200
o 2023 - 65,500 (estimated year-end) 50,500 (actual thru Sept 2023)

Member/Guest of member rounds of golf (2021, 2022 and 2023 YTD):
o 2021 - 58,000   84%
o 2022 - 57,400   90%
o 2023 - 60,200.  92% (estimated year-end) 46,000 (actual thru Sept 2023)
Rental guest rounds of golf (2021, 2022 and 2023 estimated):
o 2021 - 8,600
o 2022 - 5,400
o 2023 - 4,400 (estimated year-end). 3,700 (actual thru Sept 2023).  

Non-member outings and tournaments:
Year                      # Events               # Players               $ Revenue
o 2021                      20                          2400                     $120,000
o 2022                      12                          1400                     $70,000
o 2023                      8                            900                        $45,000

Driving Range Privileges
Prior to 2021 the driving range could be accessed by Social or Community members when they purchased a bag of balls from the Pro Shop.
With the onset of Covid, the thought was less people would be using amenities, such as the driving range. Therefore, the Club chose to offer free golf balls to Social and Community Members in 2021 and has continued with the practice today.
Free golf balls are not currently, nor ever have been, a part of a signed contract when joining the Club. Through the years the Joining Summary has changed with growth of the Club and demands of membership. As is the case with all Clubs, amenities described in Joining Summaries are not guaranteed indefinitely.  Clubs need to balance members’ needs with membership levels.  The Club has always had the ability to make changes to amenity usage to meet member’s needs.  Without the flexibility to make amenity use changes, the Club would have no other choice but to make changes to the dues or fees to impact usage.

  • Capacity: There are more and more times the range is very crowded.  We realize this is not every day. However, capacity is more than just what we see.  Seabrook Island Club has a men’s and lady’s league who play Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. Members pay to belong to these leagues and pay to play weekly games.
Seabrook Island Club has recently hired a new Director of Player development. She along with our Head Golf Pro and four other teaching pros will be offering schools, clinics, and lessons. Many of these will be during morning hours, especially in the warmer months. This is in direct response from member’s requests.
Our teaching pros utilize the range and practice areas for private lessons. These lessons are a part of their livelihood and are arranged according to free practice areas.

  • Agronomy: The driving range is a living entity. It needs care, growth and rest. Capacity isn’t only how many spaces are available each hour.  Capacity is also how much use the range is capable of taking each day and still be able to regenerate and survive. **Please see the information supplied by Sean Hardwick, Director of Agronomy
  • Membership: The Club’s Full members have paid the highest joining level and highest level of dues. One of their privileges for this is to utilize the driving range when they choose.
Club’s Response
The Board has listened to our golfing staff, our Director of Agronomy, and our members and made the following decision.  For 2024 the Club has decided to limit access to the driving range to 1:00 for membership levels, other than Full/Golf. Members at all levels will continue to have access to the driving range throughout the day 30 minutes prior to any tee time or lesson.
The club needs the flexibility to make small changes to amenity usage to better reflect usage by each membership level.  
From Sean Hardwick, Director of Agronomy, on Driving Range Care
Currently our range is 45,000 square feet or just slightly over an acre.  An older commonly used USGA formula is the ideal range area size is 1000 square feet of tee surface for every 1000 rounds of golf played on your courses.  With that formula in mind, we played 65,900 rounds of golf this year which would translate to being undersized by at least 20,900 square feet. However, the USGA are now recommending least 2 acres of teeing surface to be able to handle the regular warm ups but especially the increased practice that we see in golf.  We are at least a solid acre undersized for the amount of use we have.

The key is to be able to move traffic as much as possible in order to spread out the divots. This is accomplished by rotating where the hitting locations, or stands, are located.  Currently, the range staff starts with the stands up front and spreads out 22 stands across the range at a safe distance.  We ask them to move them 3 yards back the next day from the previous position in the same line, and so on until players are hitting off the mats. We fertilize, fill divots, mow and care for the range weekly and even then, it takes herculean effort to keep grass on it with the amount of play we have.  
What are our other challenges to optimal range health? In my opinion and experience the trend in the number of free golf balls available has created much of the challenge since someone can stay at a spot and hit an unlimited number of golf balls removing most, if not all, of the grass in the process.  Obviously, the lack of range size is also a contributing factor to the poor quality of the turf, especially during the winter season when the underlying Bermuda is dormant and the seeded rye is slower to fill in.  Lastly, golfer habits are the last contributing factor. Players that hit in lines of divots leave ample areas in between the lines to help fill in the resultant divots.  


Section 5 – Racquet Sports

Is the Club building more pickleball courts?
o Yes. The Racquet Club Master Plan includes the construction of five (5) additional pickleball courts. The courts are expected later this year.

Why didn’t the Club prioritize the building of the new Pickleball courts?
o Adding additional pickleball courts has always been the top priority of the Racquet Club renovation.  Building NEW projects requires multiple approvals from various regulatory and municipal agencies.  So, as we moved through that approval process, construction began on renovation projects that did not require that level of approval -  landscape, hardscape, and renovations to the ProShop. 
Did the Club consider building the new pickleball courts on the land in front of the Lake House? 
o No, as the Lake House and adjacent land is not Club-owned property.
Did the Club consider building pickleball courts on the existing courts numbered 11 through 14? 
o All possible locations were discussed at length.  After extensive review, the Club, RSC, along with numerous consulting teams (and input from the Conservancy, SIPOA, and TOSI) determined the optimal location was building the five (5) new courts in the existing parking lot, constructing a new storage building which will house two (2) bathrooms near courts 11-14, and creating a permeable parking area under the trees was the optimal decision. 
Can members play after hours?
o Play after hours is allowed on the courts with lights - tennis courts 1 through 4 and pickleball courts A and B.
A reservation in advance with all players’ names listed is required. 
Until what time can we play under the lights?
o Due to island rules of “lights out,” court lights automatically shut down at 9:30PM and cannot be restarted. 


Section 6 – Equestrian

Number of horses at the Equestrian Center:
o Horses/ponies owned by the Club: 14 horses, 2 ponies
o Horses boarded by Club members: 9 horses
o Horses boarded by non-Club members: 17 horses

Number of trail rides by members/guests:
o 2021:  2291 trail rides
o 2022:  2754 trail rides

Number of beach rides by members/guests:
o 2021:  1313 beach rides
o 2022:  1412 pony rides

Number of pony rides by members/guests:
o 2021:  394 pony rides
o 2022:  635 pony rides

Number of Equestrian 101 learning sessions offered in 2023: 
o 12 annually, 1 per month


Section 7 – House and Food and Beverage

How many Member only events have there been in 2023?
o 80

What food and beverage items do Members receive a 15% discount on?
o 17% discounts on a la carte items at the Pelican’s Nest and Palmetto Room, not on beverages

How do Club prices compare with other restaurants in Charleston and in our immediate area, incorporating the 17% discount?
o An analysis of Club prices compared with prices in the city is underway.


Section 8 – Capital Projects

On average, what have we spent for new capital projects in the last several years?
o $8.4 million in 2020 (most of the New Horizon Plan) 
o $3.3 million in 2021 
o $2.7 million in 2022
o $4.5 million for 2023 YTD – estimate of $7.0 million for 2023

How many Members qualify to receive equity and assessment payments?  
o Total Equity repayment/amount remaining: 402/$4.8 million
o Total Assessment repayment/amount remaining: 704/$1.9 million

How much is in our Reserve Funds? 
o $5.7 million ($1 million working capital + $1.2 million for debt service + $1 million for storms and emergencies + $2.5 million replacement/repair) – the latter two tie to the $3.0 million goal of prior boards (2016 – 2019 and it was reached in 2020)

What has the percentage increase of dues been in the last 5 years/year?
o 2019  -  3%
o 2020  -  5%
o 2021  -   0
o 2022  -  2%
o 2023  -  5%

Over these 5 years dues have increased by 15%; over the same five-year period the rate of increase in inflation (CPI) has been 19.2%, with dues increasing 4.2% less than inflation.


Section 9 - Conduct Committee

The Conduct Committee is the Board of Governors’ portal for hearing and deciding grievances.

The Conduct Committee is comprised of three Governors, plus the General Manger, who is a non-voting member of the Committee.  

The Conduct Committee is selected by the President and approved by the Board.  The President may not serve on the Committee.

 Any Member or Employee may submit a complaint against a Member or Employee.

The General Manager may take immediate action.

Actions that may be taken by the Committee include dismissal, verbal or written warning, probation, restriction, suspension, or expulsion.

 A decision by the Committee may be appealed to the full Board of Governors.

In 2022, the Committee addressed 16 complaints.  The Committee has addressed 5 complaints through 9/30/2023.  

Of the 21 complaints overseen by the Committee, seventeen were against Members, four were against Renters, and none against Employees.

Most complaints involve abusive behavior by Members.  

The work of the Committee remains confidential.


Section 10 - Amenity Cards

What is the difference between amenity cards and amenity fees?

o Amenity Cards are necessary for the use of Club facilities; without an amenity card there is no access to Club facilities.  All members are provided amenity cards as part of their membership, and all rental guests must have an amenity card to use the Club.

o Amenity Card fees are paid for use of Club facilities by rental guests as follows: Rental Guests obtain Amenity Cards either through the Rental Property Owner/Member (or through the rental agent) or by purchase through their rental agreement.


Section 11 – Long Range Planning

What is the timing for the issuance and implementation of the Long-Range Planning Committee Report?

o The LRP is being finalized for presentation to members in December 2023.  The plan will evaluate governance, membership, amenities, operational efficiencies, external market condition and Member communications.  This analysis will allow us to plan for the success and health of Seabrook Island Club over the next 3-5 years.

Will Members be able to provide feedback on the plan?  YES
o Focus Groups (groups of 6-8 people)
o Surveys


Section 12 – Litigation

The Club is currently involved in two litigation matters, neither of which the Club believes presents a material risk to the financial position of the Club.


Section 13 – Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee selects candidates to serve as directors of the Board of Governors of the Club.

The Nominating Committee has 5 members.

In 2023 the Nominating Committee members are Sue Dostal, Penny Lee, Dean Goodwin, Randy Powell, and Mary Beth Faulkner.

The chair of the Nominating Committee for 2023 is Dr. Fred Osher.


Section 14 – Becoming a Director on the Board of Governors

Option 1 – through recommendation of the Nominating Committee
Option 2 – by petition of 5% of the total votes eligible to be cast by the membership


Section 15 – Borrowing Funds

The Club may refinance existing loans without a member vote.

Borrowings in excess of 1 year and in excess of $1,500,000 must be approved by a vote of 2/3rds of the members of the Board and a majority of votes cast by the membership. 


Section 16 – Capital Expenditures

Currently, there is no limit on annual capital expenditures in the bylaws.

There is a current Board policy which requires a member vote (majority of votes cast) to approve spending on any new project in excess of $2,500,000, adjusted annually for inflation.  In 2024 this limit will increase by the inflation percentage.


Section 17 – Special Projects

What employees work at 1101 Landfall Way?
o Seabrook Island Club accounting, human resources and membership/amenities have offices at 1101 Landfall Way

What is the plan for North Campus (the area around the SIRE building just outside the gate)?
o The Strategic Plan will be presented to Members in Dec 2023 and North Campus will be included in the Master Plan that will be developed in the first half of 2024.


Section 18 - Club Advisors 

Dr. Jim Butler, CEO of Club Benchmarking

Jim Butler brings a unique perspective to his leadership role at Club Benchmarking, the leasing source of financial data for clubs in the US. He earned a PhD in Hospitality from Iowa State University for his research on member loyalty and attachment. In addition, he holds an MBA in Real Estate Development & Finance, a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Turfgrass degree. Jim has a wealth of operational experience and a proven track record in real estate sales and capital improvement and renovation in gated communities. He is a recognized leader in data science and academic research and a highly sought educator and public speaker.

Kurt Kuebler, Partner: Koppin, Kuebler, and Wallace


Kurt joined the firm in 2007 – KOPPLIN & KUEBLER – after a highly successful career managing clubs and club communities for more than 28 years.  Kurt’s club career includes appointments with the Tavistock Group, in Orlando, FL, where he was the general manager/coo of Isleworth Golf & Country Club, Isleworth Home Services and Isleworth Community Association. Previously, Kurt served in a similar capacity at The Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, FL, and the Desert Highlands Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ where he served as vice president and general manager.

His comprehensive background and experience working for both member-owned and private developer clubs, as well as having successfully managed country, golf, and yacht clubs along with homeowners’ associations and support amenities allows him unique insights to all aspects of the club industry and its evolving state. KKW is the leading executive search firm and advisor for clubs in the US.


Robyn Nordin Stowell, Partner: Spencer Fain


Robyn Nordin Stowell brings extensive experience in real estate and business matters to develop creative strategies that achieve client goals related to real estate development and projects while resolving any pressing legal issues to keep projects on budget and schedule.
Robyn has works closely with private clubs, golf resorts, nonprofit entities, developers, borrowers, lenders, and member groups on complex real estate and financial transactions involving multiple sellers and buyers with golf, spa, retail, fitness, clubhouse, and residential community assets. She advises clients on club turnovers; equity conversions; the purchase, sale, and financing of golf and resort assets; structuring member-financed renovation and expansion programs; contract negotiations; and the sale of amenities valued in the tens of millions of dollars. Robyn also regularly counsels private clubs on governance and membership issues and advises clients on a wide range of legal issues.

Henry De Lozier, Principal/Partner: GGA Partners


Henry DeLozier is considered one of the leading authorities on golf course asset development and financing. Henry is recognized within the golf industry for his uncommon understanding of golf and residential properties. He is known as a no-nonsense profit producer, an innovative marketer and an advocate of exceptional customer service. His career history reflects new concept introductions and numerous successful business turnarounds.
Henry joined GGA in 2008 after nine years as the Vice President – Golf of Pulte Homes, the largest developer of golf course communities in the U.S. While at Pulte Homes, Henry developed 27 golf courses in 10 states. During his tenure, Pulte Homes became the largest developer of golf communities and of golf courses in the U.S. with more than $500 million in developed golf assets. In addition, he was responsible for the operation of more than 20 Pulte golf courses.

Patrick Wooten of Duffy & Young


Patrick Wooten has a broad litigation practice and more than ten years of experience litigating civil matters in state and federal courts. A former clerk to a United States District Court Judge, Patrick has experience handling small and large matters, and he looks for creative ways to solve his clients’ problems in a cost-efficient manner. Patrick has represented corporate, institutional, and individual clients in a wide range of litigation matters, including complex commercial litigation, business litigation, appellate litigation, class action litigation, real estate litigation, False Claims Act litigation, probate litigation, and trust and fiduciary litigation.

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